The latest entry to the Marvel Universe of movies was a risky one. Casual fans know who the X-Men are, they know who Captain America is, they know who Thor and Iron Man are...but not many knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were. It was a chance that the studio was willing to take, to introduce a collection of heroes to a new audience. It could have failed miserably, but box office numbers and critical praise have made it a success.

The Guardians are a group of misfits that band together, highlighting individual strengths to compensate for another member's weakness. That sort of group theme is nothing new, but it's definitely a unique interpretation to include a human, two aliens (one female), a raccoon and a tree. Peter Quill is Star-Lord, a space thief who unites the group. Samora is an alien who is plotting against her ruler, Drax the Destroyer is an alien hell-bent on avenging the death of his family, and Rocket Raccoon & Groot are a raccoon/tree team of bounty hunters. It sounds insane, and that really was the risk Marvel took in putting their story on the screen. I actually felt that going into the movie knowing nothing about the characters was a nice change. With The Avengers series, I sometimes felt like my cursory knowledge could be a disadvantage; I knew enough about the stories to get some of the inside-jokes, but other times I felt like I was watching something that other people were understanding while I wasn't. With Guardians, I was a clean slate.

The cast was tremendous. Since I don't know the comics, I can't exactly claim that each actor perfectly channeled their character, but I can say that they felt right to me. Chris Pratt was able to portray Peter Quill/Star-Lord, a "thief with a heart of gold" wonderfully. Zoe Saldana brought weight to her character Samora without being overbearing. The remaining three Guardians are what truly impressed me. Dave Batista is a pro-wrestler, and I had seen him previously in The Man With The Iron Fists, where he was nothing memorable. Here, he plays Drax the Destroyer, another brute, but manages to play him with a good amount of subtext. He's not just a smasher, he ends up with a nice transformation with some heart. He also does a good job of being the straight man to the comic elements. Lastly, we have Rocket Raccoon and Groot. A genetically altered raccoon, and a giant tree creature. Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel provide the voices, and are perfectly cast. Cooper barely sounds like himself, and is able to put a sort of maturity into the voice of a space rodent that could have easily veered off into cartoonishness. If you haven't seen the trailers, this could be a slight spoiler, but Groot is only able to speak the words "I am Groot", but Vin Diesel somehow makes those three words convey different emotions each time. I'm definitely not a fan of Diesel, but the guy's got pipes and brought life to a tree.

I couldn't do a full review without mentioning the soundtrack.  Quill was abducted from Earth in 1988 as a young child. His mother had made him a mixtape of songs she loved, and it's really a fantastic collection of mid-70s "AM Mellow Gold", ranging from Blue Swede to The Raspberries to The Five Stairsteps. You can listen to Star-Lord's "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" if you click here.

A friend of mine said that Guardians was what the Star Wars prequels wish they were, and I agreed. This movie succeeded where George Lucas failed; creating an epic space movie that spanned across galaxies, but still felt connected. It combined humor and drama and action in equal amounts, with none of those elements detracting from another. It wasn't a perfect movie, it may have stuck with a formulaic pattern of a "ragtag team of misfits", but it's still a hell of a fun ride, and should provide some great entertainment from Marvel for a while.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Guardians of the Galaxy" gets an 8 out of 10.


More From 105.7 The Hawk