Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Director: James Gunn

Running time: 121 minutes

Release date: July 31 (UK & Ireland)

JUST as the Marvel cinematic world was becoming a tad predictable – superhero saves the world from destruction – along come the Guardians to pep up the genre with a free-wheeling, rollicking adventure.

This mash-up of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, coupled with a sense of humour, is just very good fun, not least because unlike most other comic book adventures it’s not afraid to have a laugh instead of all this dark, brooding, angst-ridden nonsense that bedevils too many superheroes.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is snatched from Earth as a boy and becomes an intergalactic mercenary with a liking for 1980s music, courtesy of the “awesome mix 1” tape that he’s never let out of his hands.

As played by Pratt – best known until now for TV’s Parks And Recreation – he’s a likeable, charming rogue who calls himself Star-Lord. Give him a hat and a whip and he could be Indiana Jones in space.

Stealing a strange orb puts Quill in the firing line. Everyone wants it because of its special powers (whatever they may be). Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is ordered by his shadowy boss Thanos (Josh Brolin, of whom we’ll no doubt be seeing more in the sequel) to retrieve the orb.

He sends two assassins – green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and blue baddy Nebula (Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan) – to recover the orb.

Nebula (Karen Gillan) 

Basingstoke Gazette:

Wise-cracking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his sidekick, talking tree Groot (Vin Diesel, voicing variations on just three words “I am Groot”), are more interested in catching Quill for the bounty on his head Once the true power of the orb comes to light, Quill and his assorted band of merry men (if you count a raccoon and tree as men) find themselves on a mission to save the galaxy.

The movie becomes, like a lot of science fiction, bogged down from time to time with incomprehensible made-up technical jargon and a plot that’s denser than an old London pea-souper (or perhaps I’m the one that’s dense).

But director James Gunn doesn’t let the audience pause for breath with spectacular action sequences and dazzling effects coupled with wisecracks to lighten the mood. After all, any space movie that manages to reference artist Jackson Pollock and The Maltese Falcon can’t be all bad.

Pratt proves himself an energetic movie star superhero without having to pull on a rubber suit and mask although he’s given a run for his money by the double act of Rocket and Groot, Zoe Saldana’s killer with a mysterious past, and man mountain Dave Bautista whose muscular character isn’t called Drax the Destroyer for nothing.

This ill-matched band of Guardians could be just the thing to shake up a summer blockbuster season that’s way behind previous years in terms of box office takings.

Steve Pratt