5. Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13) - Runtime: 121 minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Pace
Director: James Gunn
Writers: Nicole Perlman, James Gunn
Wow. Just wow. Totally blew up my expectations. I think as time went by this year, Guardians became increasingly more exciting to me, especially after a couple of somewhat disappointing movies in my top 5 (Noah, X-Men). And after all the amazing reviews and good word-of-mouth, Guardians is most definitely the movie to see this summer. It took us 3 months to get to an event-level movie, but no doubt Guardians lives up to and exceeds all the hype. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman have crafted a fun, weird and funny sci-fi action flick. Plus all the Guardians are written so well (yes even Groot, who can only say the phrase "I Am Groot!") and they have a nice progression and arc during the movie.
Peter Quill (the about-to-be-a-household-name Chris Pratt), a lone bounty hunter/scavenger who got abducted by aliens when he was a boy, finds an orb of significant value and power, although he doesn't know it at the time - he's just looking to unload it for money. Along the way back to cashing the orb in, Gamora (sci-fi vet Zoe Saldana) is sent to get the orb from him by the villain Ronan and also Rocket (the racoon) and his partner Groot (the tree) find Quill to be a good bounty, so they decide to try and capture him. Well, they all cause a ruckus and are soon sent to space prison where they meet the fifth member, Drax, a maniacal warrior with revenge on his mind (Ronan killed his family). They band together and finally figure out they need to stop Ronan. Hijinks ensue.
The movie starts off great - we see Peter as a boy getting abducted right after seeing his mom pass away from what I'm guessing is cancer. She made him a cassette mixtape with some awesome tunes and cut to the present day where we see Quill dancing around some ancient ruins to Redbone's Come and Get Your Love and it is perfect. Plus it sets the tone for the rest of the movie - you know you're in for a fun time and Quill is not your typical type of hero. Although he's selfish and a ladies' man, deep down he's still wounded from his mother dying and getting abducted. Gamora is the "daughter" of the Thanos - the intimidating villain behind the evil Ronan - but really he killed her family and took her in and trained her to be the galaxy's deadliest assassin. Needless to say, she has daddy issues. Drax is out for revenge like I said earlier and Groot has his moments as the sidekick to Rocket - who is the heart and soul of this movie. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, who's nearly unrecognizable, deserves many kudos for really getting into character. He is a genetically-modified Racoon who's been tortured and experimented on too many times and he sees life as nothing but unfair and awful. And he steals every scene he's in.
Rocket's humor and disregard for others is what makes this movie tick. Not only is there an awful lot of action, but the jokes and humor are extremely funny and entertaining. From Drax's quirk of not really understanding metaphors ("It's not over my head, because I'm too quick, I would catch it) to Rocket's pranks - the prosthetic leg bit was hilarious. I could go on and on - but I don't want to spoil the fun. The movie has a great climax and I can't wait to see what the Guardians will get up to next!
This was by far my favorite movie this summer and possibly the year so far. It's just fun, sharply written and all the characters are brilliantly portrayed. The action is amazing and it's just a blast. Plus the music in this movie is fantastic - I love the funky, R&B mix that Peter Quill holds dear to his heart! This is a definitive must-see movie!
Rating: A Funky Good Time!