So, Guardians of the Galaxy came out Thursday night at 7 and I’ve seen it twice now. I like to consider myself a bit of a Marvel aficionado and sort of a film junkie, so keep that in mind going in. I may be a bit harsh, but I do it with love.

“Guardians” is great. Not excellent. Not phenomenal. But it’s definitely better than good. Granted, Guardians of the Galaxy is not one of my strongest suits of knowledge when it comes to the Marvel universe, along with Marvel: Romance, Alpha Flight, Excalibur, and Great Lakes Avengers. Okay that’s a lie. I kind of like the GLA, yes even with the pterosaur-human hybrid so creatively named “Dinah Soar”. Thankfully you don’t get bogged down in any unnecessary backstory or verbiage and someone who knows nothing of the series really can just jump in without a problem. You don’t even need to see the Avengers first. Granted, it will enrich the experience but there is nothing in it that needs to be retained to understand GotG.

In fact, “simple” is a great way to describe the film. The plot isn’t complex (bad thing exists, bad guy gets bad thing, bad guy gonna use bad thing to hurt good folk, stop bad guy basically sums it up) and that may be why I seem to view this film on a lower tier than some others. I guess it’s that I expected more pandering to my nerdy affection of Marvel’s cosmic stories than I got. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable- far from it. I suppose I just went in expecting a movie that would speak just to me and instead it spoke to everybody on the same level. Granted there are a few nods to comic fanboys that get you squealing in your seats, such as actually seeing a living Celestial at one point as well as Rocket and Cosmo snarling at each other in another. However, for all the faults I find in it, I have to admit what this movie does phenomenally is keep you engrossed and entertained. I wouldn’t say it’s completely emotional, but it does have a heck of a lot of heart.

Chris Pratt is the rough-and-tumble Peter Quill, abducted as a child by a man named Yondu Udonta and his group of outlaws known as The Ravagers. From the get go, Quill obtains the magical orb of MacGuffin and everyone wants a piece of it. Yondu puts a price on Quill’s head and the festivities are off. Groot, a sentient tree-beast with astonishing colloquial skills, and Rocket, a feisty, rowdy, crude raccoon with an itchy trigger finger, attempt to capture Quill for the bounty but are captured, along with green assassin Gamora, by the Nova Force. From there, the four are sentenced to a prison and this is where things heat up. The group, along with another inmate called Drax, bond over a prison break and go on a galaxy wide romp to places such as a ten-mile-long floating mausoleum spaceship, a colossal floating head corpse, and a place that looks like a strip joint but surprisingly turns out to be a place where Benicio del Toro keeps many things, including his eyeliner apparently. It’s a very simple movie with very simple goals and is a character driven sci-fi space romp in the vein of Star Wars and Firefly.

Ronan the Accuser ,the main antagonist, is definitely built up to be a major threat and delivers. There are several emotional impact moments such as when a Nova fleet goes kablooie, and when Groot decides to increase his vocabulary to a staggering five words, and each of these lands extremely successfully. What doesn’t land is the general feeling of camaraderie we are supposed to get from the Guardians. They become friends too fast and spend the third act doing whatever is possible to keep Ronan from the MacGuffin of Malevolence despite the fact that they had spent the first two acts generally poo-hooing the concept.

I can’t decide the best character in the film. Rocket, of course, is built to be likeable. He has Wolverine’s temperment but he’s an adorable rodent with tiny rodent hands. The standout has to be the phenomenally animated Groot, who expresses an incredible range of emotions despite being a Vin Diesel surrogate or the impressive Drax, played by WWE wrestler Dave Bautista. Bautista has an incredible screen-presence and steals the scene whenever he’s on, even in his other film roles. The only problem is those film roles didn’t provide him with much opportunity. Drax is the shining star of the film, I’d say. He is humorous, emotional, and butt-kicking and Bautista’s performance is as spot on as you could be.

This is becoming a bit of a ramble so I’ll wrap it up. Even though it seems like I’ve been negative of the movie it really was quite enjoyable. Probably my third favorite Marvel movie behind The Avengers and Winter Soldier, respectively. It’s absolutely unique even for a space superhero movie. I would fully recommend you check it out for yourself. Stay through the end credits for a blast from the past you won’t expect and won’t forget (no matter how hard you tried to).

Also, can anyone confirm the presence of Beta-Ray Bill? The skeleton Quill encounters in the opening sequence (a place where the casting of Pratt shines through in what is quite possibly the most entertaining and memorable openings of a Marvel film) seems to be a Korbinite and in one of the collectors boxes is a figure with a flowing red cape. Get back to me on this. Love me some Horseface Stormbreaker.

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