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When a power-hungry madman threatens to destroy the galaxy, these guys are the LAST people you’d call for protection. Yet, this ragtag group of mercenaries, thugs, bounty hunters, and assassins, prove to everyone that appearances can be deceiving. They are the Guardians of the Galaxy.

You may commence with the “Ooga Chaka Ooga Chaka”. Like the titular characters, Marvel’s latest expansion of their cinematic universe is out to prove to viewers that you don’t need multiple origin movies before creating an epic team outing. The movie follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star Lord, who was abducted as a kid from Earth, now a legendary (in his own mind) outlaw, on his way to nab an ancient orb before his boss, Yandu (Michael Rooker), arrives. Quill ends up as the target of bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), as well as assassins like Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

After a brief scuffle, the lot of them are caught and land in prison, where they meet the one-man-wrecking-team, Drax (Dave Bautista), whose sole purpose in life is vengeance against Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). The five inmates strike a temporary alliance in order to help each other achieve their own goals, but soon find themselves going against a force dead-set on conquering the galaxy.

Who says losers can’t be heroes?

From the outset, this movie does its best to not take itself too seriously. Rocket and Groot steal every scene they are in. Quill drops loads of 80’s pop references and the occasional dance move or two. Even Drax provides some surprisingly funny dialog at times, though at times it does feel forced.

Unfortunately, the cost of all this hilarity seems to be character depth. Gamora tries to hold her own throughout the movie, but aside from her fight scenes, there is very little for viewers to connect with and therefore care for her. Her sister, Nebula (Karen Gillian), has even less presence, though her design is epic. The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) is delightfully off-kilter, and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) is a great mini-boss villain, but neither gets the screen time to flesh out their stories.

While we do get some back-story on both Quill and Rocket (read: sob story), it’s still not enough to get me to care for these characters when they’re in trouble. Even badass Kree terrorist Ronan feels one-sided. The very little back-story we get on this guy is sped through in one quick exposition, which makes him feel more cartoony than menacing.

The character that I felt closest with was, surprisingly, Groot. Vin Diesel was able to portray a vast array of dialogue and emotions by using only 3 words (“I am Groot”). Combine that with the animators’ ability to effectively tweak his body language and face to enhance his dialog, Groot comes across as a simple, but lovable creature.

The CG work in this movie is a mixed bag. One one hand, Rocket and Groot look amazing and have realistic movement (that is, if raccoons and trees could walk and talk). On the other hand, some CGI sets seemed more like concept art when live actors interact with it. It’s just slightly off, but noticeable.

Overall, this may not have the polish of The Avengers, but it didn’t need it. With a nice blend of action and comedy, director James Gunn and co. provide an entertaining, hilarious, and sometimes sarcastic look at the Guardians of the Galaxy: a band of epic A-holes.

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