Guardians of the Galaxy

As of October 5, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy has earned $323.3 million in North America and $330.4 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $653.7 million. It became the fourteenth movie of 2014 to gross over $300 million, which it did in just ten days.

It is a film about a ragtag band of intergalactic mercenaries who do battle with a genocidal madman in order to prevent him from destroying the admirable and civilized planet of Xander. The group is led by Peter Quill, a sneak thief played by Chris Pratt. Pratt is best known for his role as Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation, a television series that began in 2009 and is currently still running. He also provided the voice for Emmet the master builder in The Lego Movie.

A second member of the group is Gamorra, a green-skinned master assassin played by Zoe Saldana who has previously been seen as Lieutenant Uhura in the latest Star Trek movie. She might not be recognized for her role as Neytiri, one of the Na'vi, in Avatar. Her features were heavily altered with CGI in that movie.

Two of the more interesting team members are Rocket, a psychotic, gun-toting raccoon and Groot, a talking tree with a three-word vocabulary. Bradley Cooper does the voice of Rocket. His role in The Hangover brought him to prominence, but he is probably most famous for his roles as Eddie Morra in Limitless and Pat, the lovestruck manic-depressive, in Silver Linings Playbook.

Vin Diesel portrays the voice of Groot, a role that doesn't require much acting ability, but he still manages to make the character extremely likable.

This is further proof that Marvel can smack its brand on anything it chooses and make it into a hit. This is not to say that Guardians of the Galaxy is not a good movie. All of the actors playing the major roles in the film are wonderful and Lee Pace who plays the movie's chief antagonist, is suitably frightening. Pace, who is currently in the American Movie Channel hit series Halt and Catch Fire, is also recognizable for his role as the Wood Elf King in The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey and as the American politician Fernando Wood in Lincoln.

James Gunn, who previously directed the low-budget, dark superhero comedy Super in 2010 (a film previously reviewed by yours truly) and a horror movie called Slither, directs Guardians of the Galaxy and brings a great deal of heart to a genre (superhero movies) that has recently churned out some very grim movies (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Thor: the Dark World).

Guardians is essentially a movie about teamwork. It extolls the virtues of friendship, caring for each other, and fighting to preserve life in the universe. These values shine through regardless of the fact that Rocket is a foul-mouthed gun-nut, Groot is a tree person who throws things, and the fact that Dave Bautista, who is one of the most famous Cage Fighters in UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships), is cast as Drax the Destroyer. Bautista isn't much of an actor but he doesn't do a bad job in this role.

Two thumbs up for a very entertaining block buster.