On the surface, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” now in theaters, seems like a parody of the Marvel movie universe, but it actually succeeds as a stand-alone effort. For most of its running time, it’s at once smart, hilarious, visually spectacular and has heart.
Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, a space pirate on a distant planet who comes into possession of a powerful orb. It’s not long before every bounty hunter in the galaxy (no pun intended) is after him.
He’s spared a doomed fate by a green-skinned alien named Gamora (Zoe Saldana). They are joined by another alien named Drax (WWE superstar Dave Bautista), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and a wise-cracking raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper).
Together, they team up to keep the orb safe from the forces of Ronan (Lee Pace), who wants to use it to — you guessed it — destroy the galaxy. What else would a good villain use a device like that for?
Most characters in superhero movies have to say or do something idiotic in order to be remembered. However, that’s not the case in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” All the characters get their moments where they are funny, exciting or heartfelt.
In terms of the humor, Cooper’s Rocket offers one-liners that rival Steven Seagal, and Diesel’s Groot finds a charming combination of being childlike yet unsure about what he’s going to do.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” does drag on a little bit during its climax, but other than that, this is one highly entertaining movie that surpassed my expectations.
Besides the terrific cast, including the likes of John C. Reilly and Glenn Close, much of the credit has to go to director/cowriter James Gunn, who’s put together a cross between “Star Wars” and “The Avengers,” though not nearly as original as either of those movies are.
In a weak summer-movie season, this certainly is the way it should go out. This is an amazing start to what hopefully will be a great franchise.
(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.