Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by James Gunn. Voices by Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, Sean Gunn, Peter Serafinowicz. (2014, PG-13, 120 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 1, 2014

Memorable plots – or heck, even coherent ones – have never been a priority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re typically hung on some gobbledygook idea, a meaningless MacGuffin dressed up in a solemn-sounding name – the Aether! the Tesseract! – and this latest Marvel movie is no different. It’s literally about chasing a ball around the galaxy. (Sorry – make that “infinity stone.”) It’s so rudimentary, it’s genius.

The opening creaks, but once all the characters are introduced, Guardians of the Galaxy clicks into place. As the wisecracking space outlaw Peter “Starlord” Quill, Chris Pratt takes a page from two iconic Harrison Ford roles – Han Solo and Indiana Jones – and presses it lovingly into a fart joke book. Once Quill takes possession of the infinity stone, an ad-hoc gang comes together. There’s Gamora (Saldana), a green-skinned professional assassin; the vengeful Drax the Destroyer (Bautista); Rocket Raccoon, a mutant and mercenary (voiced by Cooper); and Groot, a sweet-tempered, sentient tree (voiced by Diesel). Groot and Rocket were crafted from motion-capture CGI and spot-on voice-work, but they never feel unreal. Overall, the effects work is outstanding – not least of which is the use of painterly backdrops (one calls to mind an architect’s rendering of midcentury Tomorrowland) – and the 3-D justifies itself with a stunning depth of field.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an outlier: a space opera in a largely earthbound movie cycle (excepting the occasional red-eye to another dimension in the Thor pictures), candy-colored and bopping where the other Marvel movies are muted and imposing, and the funniest one to date, without a doubt. James Gunn, who previously directed cult faves like Slither and Super (a noble failure) and co-wrote the script with Nicole Perlman, was an inspired choice to adapt these lesser-known, misfit, comic-book characters for the screen. His pledge to irreverence and his uplift of the everyman (not superman) with an earnest drive to do the right thing is just the kind of goosing the increasingly wearying Marvel movies need. You can have the Avengers’ supergroup of professional heroes and egos: I prefer the Guardians’ garage band – rowdy and rough-edged and a real family.

More James Gunn
He Needed a Hero
He Needed a Hero
A regular schlub turns caped crusader in James Gunn's 'Super'

Marc Savlov, March 11, 2011

More James Gunn Films
Movie 43
This raunchy collection of short films drew A-list talent behind and in front of the camera.

Kimberley Jones, Feb. 1, 2013

Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page star in this tonally odd superhero spoof that veers between cartoonish stylings and gruesome violence.

Kimberley Jones, April 29, 2011

More by Kimberley Jones
The Sense of an Ending
A man's past comes back to haunt him in the form of a letter

March 24, 2017

Song to Song
Malick takes on the Austin music scene (sort of)

March 24, 2017


Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, Sean Gunn, Peter Serafinowicz

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)