GUARDIANS of the Galaxy boldly goes where no Marvel film has yet to venture - the far reaches of outer space - but can it bring an audience with them for the ride?
The film was seen as a risky move by many as it was based on a lesser-known comic book from the archives of Marvel's extensive database.
But many people must have forgotten that Marvel's creative team, led by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, have been all about risk from the beginning when it cast Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man.
The story of Guardians revolves around human Peter Quill who, in 1988, distressed by the death of his mother is abruptly plucked from Earth by a spaceship.
Fast forward 26 years and Peter (Chris Pratt) is a space adventurer, roaming the galaxy searching for artefacts he can sell to the highest bidder - think Indiana Jones in space.
One such artefact he comes across is an orb, coveted by some of the most powerful characters in the galaxy including Ronan (Lee Pace) and Thanos (Josh Brolin), who was last glimpsed in the after-credits scene in Avengers.
Soon Peter is joined by four other companions Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green-skinned assassin - Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper - Groot a walking tree only capable of speaking three words voiced by Vin Diesel, and Drax (Dave Bautista) a heavily tattooed enforcer, all with motives of their own.
The plot is simple - this group of intergalactic fugitives must put aside their differences for the greater good and stop the orb from ending up in the wrong hands.
Neither director James Gunn nor writer Nicole Perlman are really interested in the plot however.
Instead, this fresh, witty and fast-paced film is focused on the main characters and their interactions.
Pratt, mostly known for his comedic work on television's Parks and Recreations, has buffed up for the role and comparisons with Serenity's Mal Reynolds and Star Wars' Han Solo are apt.
The gun-toting and cynical Rocket as voiced by Cooper steals the show along with his sidekick Groot.
The soundtrack is a foot-tapping collection of hits from the 70s and 80s and the way it incorporates that into the story - Peter's mother made him a mix tape before she died - is handled beautifully.
Overall, this motley crew are the ultimate outsiders who slowly form a strong bond with each and thanks to some fun writing we as an audience form a strong bond with them too.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn (Slither)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker
Reviewer: Jim Alouat
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