From the moment Chris Pratt dances solo on a deserted planet in the opening minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy, booting the native rodent-dinosaurs through puddles and clutching one by the midsection to use as an impromptu microphone, you'll be on board with this zany summer sci-fi comedy that opens areawide on Friday. And you'll most certainly be on board with its ragtag band of unlikely heroes. Here's the blurbable distillation: "Guardians of the Galaxy flat-out rocks."
Pratt is Peter Quill, a rogue pilot who was abducted from Missouri in the '80s as a boy and now traverses the galaxy "making out with hot alien chicks" and doing the bidding of Mad-Maxy scavengers and thieves led by the Walking Dead's Michael Rooker, in blueface. Quill is roughly the hybrid of Han Solo and Marty McFly, and Pratt (Parks and Rec's Andy Dwyer) has channeled them both admirably.
In the film's political background, an uneasy treaty has been brokered between the people of Xandar (Glenn Close, John O'Reilly, et. al) and those of Kree (bad guys in fearsome makeup, generally). Peter Quill becomes the object of a Kree manhunt when he stumbles upon an orb carrying a stone of untold cosmic power. Ronan (an unrecognizable Lee Pace), the archetypal bloodthirsty deep-space villain, means to steal the stone for himself and go Pinky-and-the-Brain on the universe.
But not if Peter Quill can stop him! After Quill is apprehended by the Xandarian military, he enters into a tenuous truce with a team of misfits who recognize the great power (and payday) the orb represents. His cohorts include: Gamorah (Zoe Saldana), a Kree assassin with an agenda; the genetically modified raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his muscle, a walking tree (Vin Diesel) who says only "I am Groot"; and the eminently tattooed Drax the Destroyer (WWE's Dave Bautista), who doesn't understand metaphor — "What's over my head? — and is hellbent on killing Ronan for personal reasons.
Guardians, despite its nonstop cheeky tone, has the thumping heart of an underdog narrative. These weird characters are united by individual hardship and loss and strengthened by their emergent friendship. A few surprisingly touching moments are sprinkled among the jokes and action sequences of the film's final third.
And not for nothing, but the action sequences look awesome too. Bursting forth with color and never-before-seen alien landscapes, this 10th installment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a far cry from its earth-centric predecessors but maintains the studio's high pre- and post-production value while endearing fans to a whole new roster of heroes. And it has got a kickass '80s soundtrack to boot.