Guardians of the Galaxy is an unabashed entertainment that isn't afraid to get a little silly amidst all its end-of-the-universe drama. Parks and Recreation funnyman Chris Pratt is an action hero, Star Trek's Zoe Saldana is green, Vin Diesel voices a tree, and Bradley Cooper provides the mouth for a psychotic raccoon. Conventional it certainly is not. That's part of its charm.
The characters are a deadly, quirky lot who fall backward into saving the universe. And at the center of it all is a super-powerful orb. Peter Quill (Pratt), who calls himself Star-Lord, steals it, Gamora (Saldana) steals it from him, and the villainous Ronan (Lee Pace) can't wait to get it (a college drinking game based on who has the orb is in the near future). In prison Quill and Gamora team with Drax the Destroyer (pro wrestler Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Cooper), and Groot (Diesel) to escape from their cells. Their plan is to sell the orb to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and split the money, but when they realize the danger Ronan and his boss Thanos (voice of Josh Brolin) present, their plans change.
Director James Gunn has essentially made a roaring action comedy and infused the narrative with '70s and '80s pop music to give it a little flair. Songs like "Come and Get Your Love," "If You Like Pina Coladas," and "Hooked on a Feeling" make the intergalactic setting relatable and engaging; it never feels too far from home. Watching Pratt dance to the songs in the face of grave danger also helps. In fact, his Quill/Star-Lord doesn't take much of anything seriously, which gives much of the film its lighthearted appeal.
It is often the unexpected that makes us laugh the most with comedy, and because nothing is what you expect in looking at any of the five Guardians, there's ample room for creativity. Gamora is a sexy and lethal green alien; Groot has one oft-repeated line, "I am Groot" that Diesel said he recorded "about a 1,000 times," but proves repeatedly resourceful; and Cooper sports a New Yawk accent to give Rocket Raccoon needed spunk to offset his diminutive size. Acting newcomer Bautista takes everything literally as Drax, which leads to some of the funniest bits.
Although Guardians of the Galaxy takes place in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as The Avengers, none of the main characters from that storyline appear.
But here's how it will ultimately come together: There are six infinity stones that offer absolute power: The Tesseract from The Avengers was one, the Aether from Thor: The Dark World is another, and the orb is the third. The other three will be introduced leading up to the third Avengers film (likely 2018), at which point it's believed that the Avengers, Guardians, Ant-Man, and whoever else Marvel has presented on screen will battle Thanos for the stones.
But back to Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a trip, and you certainly don't need to have seen any of the other Marvel movies to get a kick out of it. It's funny, action-packed, visually spectacular, and, most importantly, an out-of-this-world good time.