The Bock’s Office: Joy level of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is out of this world | CraigDailyPress.com

The Bock’s Office: Joy level of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is out of this world

Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Groot (Vin Diesel) await evaluation in "Guardians of the Galaxy." The movie is about a group of outlaws who find themselves responsible for saving an entire world.

In a business where bigger isn't always better, it's good to see a movie like "Guardians of the Galaxy" that's huge in every way but still dares to be small where it counts. And, not just in having a trigger-happy star that's only two feet tall.

If you go…

"Guardians of the Galaxy," rated PG-13

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 122 minutes

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig's West Theatre.

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Earthling Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has learned to adapt to life among the stars ever since being abducted from his home as a child, and that includes staying one step ahead of the law that doesn't look too kindly on his affiliation with a group of interplanetary thieves called the Ravagers.

His long string of offenses catches up to him after his latest heist, landing him in confinement with an assortment of personalities, including an assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), disgraced warrior Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), a sentient tree and a hot-tempered, genetically engineered raccoon.

The only thing this hodgepodge of misfits has in common, besides a distrust of one another, is a desire to escape imprisonment and get back to settling some scores, whether that means cashing in on sordid activities or seeking revenge for grander purposes. However, the group may have to stick together longer than planned when they learn of the intentions of a bloodthirsty being known as Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to wipe out an entire world.

After all, even scumbags care about billions of lives being destroyed, at least if there's a good chance that they may be included among the mass casualties.

A few years ago, you wouldn't have pegged Pratt as a candidate for any kind of action hero role, his best bet probably the part of the useless but humorous sidekick. But, you can be charming and still kick some butt, and he shows the traits of Han Solo's selective ethics and James Kirk's love ’em and leave ’em habits with his many flings while still being entirely amiable.

Peter's biggest influence and his self-professed idol? Kevin Bacon in "Footloose." Give him a break, he's been gone from Earth since the '80s.

After "Avatar" and "Star Trek," Saldana adds another franchise to her list of accomplishments as the green-skinned Gamora, the last of her race looking to bring justice to those responsible for past genocide, a goal shared by wrestler and mixed martial artist Bautista's Drax, whose skin tone is as gray as his grave personality.

You see, some aliens don't understand things like sarcasm, metaphors, fun …

Rocket, on the other hand, knows how to turn a phrase, as well as blow up everything in sight with a lust for firearms that would shock even Ted Nugent, his fresh banter made better by Cooper's surprisingly worthy vocal performance. He may be intelligent, yet he's completely unaware that he's the spitting image of a certain woodland critter, which still doesn't excuse terms like rodent and vermin.

You don't have to say much to say a lot, and Diesel does both the voice and motion-capture for the walking plant powerhouse known as Groot, an ent-like enigma whose vocabulary consists of one multipurpose expression: "I am Groot."

Still easier than translating a Wookiee, right?

It's a tall order to give depth to an arboreal simpleton who eats the leaves that grow off his shoulders and impales his enemies on his branches, but if anyone can do it, it's the guy who gave a soul to the Iron Giant.

With some characters looking like they just had part of a color printer ink cartridge — cyan, magenta, yellow — burst all over them, James Gunn isn't lacking for visual stimuli in his first film with an actual budget. Some real financing must be nice after being the writer of the least action-packed movie ever, "The Specials," and directing the deranged indie vigilante flick "Super."

It's hard to know what to anticipate from Star-Lord — Quill's title that only he seems to recognize — with his Marvel Comics adventures most closely resembling those of Green Lantern.

We all know how that turned out as a movie.

It's that lack of familiarity from casual or non-fans of Marvel that helps Gunn make this the funniest, most surprising film yet to bear the red and white banner with an irreverent approach that is always looking for, and usually finds, a good joke — the best being the gag after the credits — simultaneously crafting magnificent battle scenes and brawls and tapping into the emotions of these five outcasts, often with overwhelming success.

If you aren't singing along with the sounds of Quill's Awesome Mix Vol. 1 on his treasured Walkman, you may need to check your pulse. Or figure out why it's taken you this long to appreciate bygone sensations like Blue Swede, Rupert Holmes, 10cc and Redbone.

All hail the timelessness of the audio cassette tape!

With a story that's tangential to everything we've seen so far from Marvel — oh, but it is connected, don't you worry — Gunn also uses time better than most comic book films have, boiling down an exhaustive history of villain Ronan, his people the Kree and many other details down to a few sentences.

Trust us, anyone who wants the full explanation has already read it.

The weird and wacky, the sweet and subtle, basically everything you wouldn't think could fit in a comic book movie does so in "Guardians of the Galaxy," the oddly shaped piece that will come in handy to complete the jigsaw puzzle that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Any movie that tries to settle the fate of a planet with a dance-off and can come up with a term like "pelvic sorcery" is just crazy enough to work.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

If you go…

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” rated PG-13

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 122 minutes

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.