Hey all! Eric here with another movie review, this time of the latest Marvel offering: Guardians of the Galaxy!

I’m guessing that the vast majority of the movie-watching audience has no idea who this band of merry misfits is. I’ve been reading comic books since I was a kid, and I’m only vaguely familiar with two of the main cast members, and that was with versions of the characters from well over a decade ago, at least. So going this route is a bit of a risk for Marvel, in that it doesn’t have the immediate cultural weight to it that Iron Man, Captain America, or the Avengers have. However, I can confidently say that this gamble has really paid off for the studio.

The movie starts off as a bit of a heist flick, then morphs into a comedy of errors, before really picking up as a cosmic action flick where our heroes need to save (guard) the galaxy. The movie is well paced, going through its arcs in fairly logical and smooth transitions. The casting was excellent. I don’t believe I have seen a Chris Pratt movie before, but after watching this I can believe that he is Star Lord. Zoe Saldana is her excellent kickass self, though I feel she was not used to her full (re: kickass) potential. Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper did excellent work with their voiceovers as Groot and Rocket Raccoon respectively; I actually could not tell it was Bradley’s voice at all, he sounded completely different from his normal self. There was great chemistry between those two characters too, which is even more impressive as I hear they were never actually recording at the same time, so it’s all pure voice acting.

He is Groot

While an over-the-top action movie, there was plenty of funny moments, as Marvel is building a reputation for. Like previous Marvel films, the humor in Guardians of the Galaxy feels very natural. There are plenty of witty one-liners, and the characters’ varied personalities are used to good effect many times to draw laughs without it feeling too forced. Comedy aside, there were also some touching, emotional moments where I stoically held back manly misting-in-the-corner-of-my-eye. Overall, the movie was well written, with only one moment where I really thought I had missed something, or the writers skipped over a bit.

Now comes the inevitable comparison with Marvel’s other ensemble cast romp: The Avengers. While Guardians was immensely entertaining, I’m not sure if I like it better than the Avengers. I think the latest movie suffers a bit in having to introduce so many new characters in a relatively short period of time. They kind of had to gloss over some aspects of the character’s personalities as the writers forged them into a team. For example, Gamora and Drax’s motivations for teaming up feel a bit slap-dash, at least to me. For me, Guardians also suffers from having possibly a cast that is TOO star-studded. Aside from the five main protagonists, the movie features Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, John Reilly as Rhomann Dey, and Michael Rooker as Yondu, not to mention Benecio del Toro’s Collector and Josh Brolin’s Thanos. Aside from the villains and the re-occurring characters, I kind of feel there was no need to cast such recognizable actors in these roles. That is of course assuming that they don’t come back in future films, where having such big names will provide better continuity. Then again, continuity could be achieved with lesser-known actors too.

Avengers also felt like a tighter movie overall, with a more obvious challenge that needed to be overcome. In Guardians, you didn’t really know what the main conflict was for a good portion of the movie, as they were busy introducing all the characters. But again, Guardians is a highly entertaining movie, a worthy addition to the Marvel movie universe, and a great springboard for future superheroes to be added to the ever-expanding roster.

With the Nova Corps, we’re almost certainly going to see Nova. As the Guardians face more galactic-level threats, we could perchance see a visit from Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer (or maybe Terrax, Firelord, other Nova, or all four?), Quasar (whose nega-bands could potentially be another Infinity Gem/Stone), the Kree Captain Marvel, or even other alien threats like the Skrulls or the Shi’arr. Wait, the Skrulls are out, they’re the Chitari’i in the movie universe. Regardless, there’s a plethora of merry Marvel mayhem waiting in the wings as the Guardians continue defending the galaxy.

Grade: A