The newest Disney screen adaptation of a Marvel Comics creation was by far the most highly-anticipated (not to mention obnoxiously over-marketed) of their films since the sleeper hit that started it all: Iron Man. But what Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and all of the other various sequels have been successfully doing is melding humor with drama and comic book action, walking the fine line between comedy and superhero flick. This film, directed by James (Slither, Super) Gunn, falls off that line five minutes into the movie. And the fact that it refuses to climb back up and try again and again slowly but surely becomes its greatest strength as a movie-going experience. It's as much tacky as it is cute, and that is more than enough to make millions at the box office and warrant a group re-watch when it is released on DVD.
An all-star cast, led by Chris (Parks and Recreation, Zero Dark Thirty) Pratt as the lovable loser and destined-for-more (in his own mind) hero, the movie starts off with a very heartfelt and emotional scene, showing the end of a little boy's mother's life. But right when it hits its emotional peak, he is abducted by aliens and the story flashes to current times, with the boy no longer a sad little child, but a smart ass outlaw on the run. In space. Along the way, said outlaw runs into several other ne'er-do-wells; some allies, some enemies, all quirky and/or sassy. Zoe (The Words, Out of the Furnace) Saldana, Bradley (Silver Linings Playbook, The Hangover trilogy) Cooper, Vin (The Fast and the Furious series, the Riddick series) Diesel, Dave (WWF Raw, WWE Smackdown) Bautista, Lee (Pushing Daisies, The Hobbit trilogy) Pace, Michael (The Walking Dead, Cliffhanger) Rooker, Karen (Oculus, Doctor Who) Gillen, Glenn (Damages, Albert Nobbs) Close, John C. (Step Brothers, Wreck-It Ralph) Reilly, Djimon (Amistad, Blood Diamond) Hounsou, Benicio (Savages, Traffic) Del Toro, Alexis (Angel, Much Ado About Nothing) Denisof, and Josh (No Country for Old Men, Labor Day) Brolin. A huge cast, but most of them will be completely unrecognizable due to excellent and bizarre makeup and computer-generated imaging. Excluding Gillen, all play their roles quite well. She, unfortunately, ruins almost every single scene she is on the screen. And the post-credits sequence, which should be funny, just comes off as a bad inside joke, making the screenwriters and producers look dumb.
But it is not without its merits. Setting up several potential sequels, somewhat linking back to the other Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, and advancing the greater story of Earth and the Marvel U. for the die hard fans, this film may start out like the rest, but its charm is carried primarily through its utter lack of caring. If you are okay with watching a modernized version of the original Star Wars, with a few more adult jokes and some better special effects, you will be thoroughly entertained. If you are looking for Iron Man, Thor, or The Avengers in terms of expert directing and fantastic writing, you will be disappointed. This isn't a bad movie. It isn't a great movie. But it is by its very definition a comic book movie. Take that for what it is worth and enjoy turning your brain off for a couple hours this summer.