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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Vin Diesel

Written By: Nicole Perlman, James Gunn Directed By: James Gunn

The Short Version

Marvel’s next (cosmic) phase begins… and this one gets knocked out of the park.

Forget brooding antiheroes; this is fun, adventurous space opera.  With jokes!

The characters are wonderfully realized, and the visuals are fantastic.

And the music… oh, that well chosen music.

Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s best movie so far.  See it, and own it when the time comes.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


The good stuff; a mixture of mellow and sharp.  But please, serve it on crackers.  This is a party.

Pairs Well With...


Because you like Pina Coladas.  And getting caught in the rain.  Especially when you escape.

“We are like Kevin Bacon!”

Ooga-shaka, ooga-shaka, ooga-ooga-ooga-shaka…

When I first heard that Marvel would be doing an adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, I was skeptical. 

Then came the inevitable flood of marketing and hype, and while the previews looked cool, I still had some doubts.

Then I walked into the theatre.

Oh, wow.

Guardians of the Galaxy is, beyond doubt, the best movie to come out of the Marvel gates.  Better than Iron Man.  Better than Captain America: The First Avenger.  Better by far than The Avengers.  Better, indeed, than any comic book adaptation I can think of, no matter who the original publisher was.  (Sorry, Caped Crusader.)

Not bad for flick based on characters who weren’t exactly at the top of the radar, populating a script that dares to peel away from the established Marvel formula and go for something different. 

It starts with a boy from Earth who gets abducted by aliens and grows up to be a thief that likes to call himself Star-Lord (Chris Pratt, The Lego Movie).  He steals a mysterious orb that an evil alien named Ronan (Lee Pace, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) would like to use to devastate a planet, and so said evil alien sends an assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek) to steal it from the thief, who has also found himself the target of cash bounty that a genetically modified raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper, Limitless) and his humanoid tree pal, Groot (Vin Diesel, Pitch Black), would like to collect.  One chase scene later, the thief, the assassin, the tree, and the raccoon end up in prison, where they in turn meet up with an angry dude named Drax (Dave Bautista, Riddick), and, hey, what are sci fi prisons for aside from turning unlikely groups of misfits into a band of friends dedicated to fighting the very evil some of them used to work for?

Okay, so it’s not that simple, but that’s what happens eventually.  After a prison break, a bar fight, some near death experiences, and a whole lot more where that came from…

There’s so just very much that’s great about this flick.

Starting off, how about this script?  After several helpings of Whedon-penned and Whedon-inspired “trust no one” screenplays, the Guardians of the Galaxy script from Nicole Perlman and James Gunn is breath of fresh air.  This story is populated by recognizable, relatable characters with real emotions; characters for whom the term “development” means something other than finding out that everyone else wants to betray them.  Can I get a sigh of relief for the return of the good old power of friendship?  And hey, how about fun?  No, I don’t mean the sarcastic insults of a 3am coffee house a-la Tony Stark; I mean actual jokes!  Sight gags, practical jokes, long cons, laugh-out-loud one liners that aren’t at someone else’s expense…  In others words: good old fashioned comedy!  Being delivered by characters who also happen to be experiencing genuine trauma!  Inside of an adventurous space opera!  Who’d have imagined that there could be room for so much stuff when the “brooding” valve is turned off?  (Okay, somebody else did, but that was a long time ago in a… well, you know.)

Also impressive is the fact that all of the characters in the ensemble feel as though they’ve got real depth.  Are their stories complete?  No, but they’re complete enough that no one ends up flat.  Hell, even the tree with a five word vocabulary gets some depth, and if that’s not worthy of some achievement points, I don’t know what is.  (Do I want a Gamora origin story flick after this?  Of course I do.  But still.  And no, the raccoon and the tree do not come across as silly in the least.  Did I mention that this movie is impressive?)

And then there’s the fantastic way that the production team takes advantage of Star-Lord’s (very well explained) attachment to his old school Sony Walkman: a soundtrack that makes inspired use of classic rock hits from the 1970s era, matched brilliantly with the scenes on the screen.  (One example is the coolest ever use of the “Pina Colada Song,” which is properly titled “Escape,” during a prison break.  Well done, folks; well done.  Even Tarantino would have to bow to that one.)  Am I surprised that a few days after release, “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” (the name of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack) is the top selling album on iTunes?  Not one bit, my friends.  Not one bit.

Meanwhile, there’s this perfectly-paced space opera going on the may bring to mind some other flashbacks to, say, 1977.  The visuals are awesome, from the CGI wizardry that any 21st Century audience walks in expecting to the highly detailed costumes and practical makeup effects that are becoming less and less commonplace.  The cameras pick it all up to great effect, and an IMAX screen makes it all look even more impressive.  (Even the stereoscope is worth checking out, and I never say that.)

What, you’re looking for flaws?  Forget it.  If there are any, they’re not big enough to worth mentioning.  Honestly, the only one I can think of right now is that I have to wait a few years for the sequel.

And yes, of course you stay past the credits.  I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll just say that there’s some hilarious advantage taken with regard to a recent intellectual property acquisition made by a certain studio.

Bottom line, I’m hooked on a feeling.  I’m high on believing that Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s best movie to date, and that its writers should be looked upon as go-to gurus for anything that follows.  This is a great flick that’s worth seeing more than once in a theatre while the opportunity’s there, and picking up for the permanent collection once home video time rolls around.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2014

More From The Bar! | Thor: The Dark World | Batman | Elektra |

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