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'Guardians of the Galaxy' a refreshing change to the Marvel Universe


Marvel continues their cinematic domination with Guardians of the Galaxy.  Unlike the rest of the Marvel canon, this movie focuses on the laughs, and then slips in pathos amid great action sequences and a retro soundtrack.

Chris Pratt  portrays Peter Quill (aka Star Lord), a human who ends up in outer space (no spoilers here) acquiring interesting objects and selling them. He finds an orb that everyone wants, including The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), that creepy character was first featured in one of the credits clips in Thor: The Dark World.Photo: www.comicbookmovie.com

Pratt has found a perfect breakout character – handsome, funny, and irreverent, a modern Han Solo. While Pratt might be best known for playing Andy Dwyer, the lovable dope of Parks and Recreation, he’s quietly built an arsenal of solid supporting actor performances in dramas Zero Dark Thirty, Her, and Moneyball. His first recurring TV role was in Everwood, playing the popular athlete Bright, alongside fellow Marvel alum Emily van Camp, who played his sister.

Starring as Gamora, Zoe Saldana remains queen of the sci-fi franchises. Saldana cuts a striking and dangerous figure with green skin and black and fuchsia ombré hair. Quill and Gamora have a cute meet – she kicks his ass – but then a tree and a raccoon interrupt the fun. Groot (Vin Diesel) is a humanoid plant, with a big heart and limited vocabulary.  Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) seems to be channeling a crotchety uncle – and he is a scene-stealer. WWE fighter David Bautista is Drax, a resolute man out for revenge.  

Marvel hires excellent actors, often covering them up in makeup and prosthetics so they are unrecognizable. Lee Pace is the bad guy Ronan, wearing a hooded robe like the bad guys in another popular space western. Karen Gillan, best known as one of Doctor Who’s companion, shaved her gorgeous redhead and has blue skin for the part of Nebula. Djimon Hounsou and Michael Rooker are some of the supporting cast pursuing the Guardians.

Half the fun of ‘Guardians’ is watching these characters begin to trust and connect. It’s a delight to discover each Guardian’s motivation for joining a seemingly helpless cause. They unite to fight a common enemy, who is one of the threads tying this story to the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Director James Gunn brings his trademark humor to the script (co-written with Nicole Perlman), and the audience is the better for it.  There is a sweetness to the character’s interactions that is a refreshing change to some of the more somber Marvel storylines. This is a funny, exhilarating, family friendly (PG-13) film.

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: www.comicbookmovie.com