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After his mother’s tragic death in 1988, a young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted by a group of alien pirates. For 26 years he is raised by the Ravagers lead by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and is now an outlaw that goes by the name Star-Lord. After trying to sell a sphere he stole that holds an infinity stone on the Nova Corps homeworld Xandar, Peter is hunted by not only the men of Ronan (Lee Pace) but also the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Learning that Ronan is working for the genocidal maniac Thanos (Josh Brolin) and trying to destroy Xandar, Peter eventually teams up with Gamora, Rocket, Groot and the warrior Drax (Dave Bautista) to form the Guardians of The Galaxy in an attempt to stop Ronan.

Easily Marvel’s most ambitious film to date, Guardians of The Galaxy is unlike any other recent Superhero film. Yes, it’s conventional in the sense that it still involves a group of people who need to come together to stop a bad guy from destroying something, but it’s everything else included in the package that makes it a special one. Obviously not as memorable or life-changing as Star WarsGuardians of The Galaxy still holds its own in the Space Opera genre, delivering great comedy with fantastic action and wonderful lead performances by Chris Pratt and his team.

Beginning a bit awkwardly with a clunky opening scene, Guardians is a bit rough around the edges but manages to gain momentum throughout its running time. The things like Thanos that tie it into the overall Marvel Universe seem a bit tacked on, but these are minor hiccups in an overall great summer blockbuster. Much like Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, it seems like director James Gunn was actually able to put his own stamp on the material, truly making it feel more like a “James Gunn Film” rather than a job-for-hire. His weird and sometimes inappropriate humour is riddled throughout, and it’s nice to see a big company let a filmmaker like Gunn just do his thing. Oh, and for a guy who has only directed two smaller indie films before this, he shows no sign of inexperience, as Guardians is filled with beautiful imagery, fun action set-pieces, great special effects and old-school practical make-up.

Lead by Chris Pratt, the cast in Guardians of The Galaxy is fantastic. Well balanced and often surprising, everyone fills their roles perfectly, whether it’s a small role for veterans like Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro and John C. Riley or large ones for newcomers like Pratt and Dave Bautista. It’s an eclectic group, and it’s nice to see them come together and interact on film. Whenever you can convince an audience that a talking raccoon and tree is not too silly, you have a good group. Cooper and Diesel are very good in their voice over roles and there are often times actors will be heard or seen but you won’t know it’s them, due to great voice acting and make-up.

The story as mentioned is a bit conventional in the sense but it’s this interesting, weird and funny group of characters that bring it all together. The film could have easily been tonally awkward, but Gunn finds a way to balance the comedy with the action you would expect from a Marvel film. It’s the closest to a pure comedy film that Marvel has ever made and mixed with all the other weird elements going on in this Space Opera, it was a risk for them that could have been a misfire. Luckily, Guardians of The Galaxy is a ton of fun and shows that Marvel is open to trying different things and expanding away from the typical Superhero fare. It’s a blast.