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Movie review: Marvel shifts gears into fun with 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Guardians of the Galaxy zips across the screen and fills movie theaters with a breath of fresh air in the process. That is an interesting summary considering that it comes from Marvel Studios, the home to masked, emotionally conflicted superheroes that have singlehandedly created a genre of films on their own.

The Guardians of the Galaxy - Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Drax (David Bautista) battle an evil force.
Used with permission of Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios

The movie, which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista, opens for special previews Thursday night (July 31).

Guardians may remind anyone of a film that concerned a galaxy far, far away. It’s possesses emotional and humorous streaks and wears them as badges of honor.

But it has originality, flair and all it does is entertain. At that it is extremely successful as Guardians provides laughs with drama and that heart. Additionally, there’s no way to forget a thoroughly captivating and, yes, ironic soundtrack culled together by director James Gunn along with a look that pops off the screen.

Beginning with the abduction of a young Peter Quill, a boy who loves his mother so much that he can’t say goodbye to her as she dies, from Earth to the movie’s fantastic end, Guardians is mostly non-stop fun.

Fast forward years later and Quill (Pratt of Parks and Recreation) now fancies himself a mercenary named Star Lord in is search for an artifact sought by more than a few people.

That includes Gamora (Saldana, who now finds herself in two potential film franchises, the other being Star Trek), an apparent ally of Ronan (Lee Pace). Two bounty hunters Rocket (Cooper), a genetically altered raccoon and Groot (Diesel), a tree-like creature, are seeking the price put on Quill by a former associate. They find the last member of their ragtag team in Drax (Bautista) in a space prison where they band together to escape.

The fun in in Guardians of the Galaxy comes in watching these five characters assemble for their adventure. After they bond – reluctantly of course – the audience immediately invests and them and their struggle.

It’s their battle against Ronan that is rather meh. The character does little more than engage in moustache twirling antics and given that this is just a set-up film that may not be necessarily a bad thing. There’s little doubt that Marvel plans to visit this universe again (another in the series has been announced already), establishing the characters should be a primary concern.

Gunn and his cast, which possesses enough chemistry for five films, do that with gusto, a fact that leaves the audience wanting more. For Marvel that’s a good thing, providing a respite from their usual superhero fare. It’s even better for the audience because they’ve been given Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that rocks and rolls from the beginning.

Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista
Studio: Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Running time: 121 minutes
George’s rating: 3.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com