Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2014. Marvel Studios, Marvel Enterprises, Moving Picture Company. Screenplay by James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, based on the comic book by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning. Cinematography by Ben Davis. Produced by Kevin Feige. Music by Tyler Bates. Production Design by Charles Wood. Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne. Film Editing by Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne, Craig Wood. Academy Awards 2014. Las Vegas Film Critics 2014. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2014.
Those who were bored by the pompous self-importance of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers might find relief in this lighthearted outer space adventure. Chris Pratt plays an intergalactic junk collector whose search for a precious orb links him with a group of oddball companions: Zoe Saldana wants the object to help outwit an evil villain who has ties to her own past traumas, Dave Bautista is a strongman with a similar bent, and a genetically enhanced raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his magical tree companion (voiced by Vin Diesel) want to capture Pratt for the ransom money on his head. They all get chummy when they find they have a few enemies in common, constantly outwitting disaster as they fly from one world to the next in the hopes of achieving their quest. It’s got a bouncy look, some cute jokes and a terrific cast, yet somehow it’s not quite funny or clever enough; the obvious references to Star Wars mean to combine technical expertise with wry humour, but the classic rock on the soundtrack is cued up more times than necessary, as contrived an effort to appeal to the post-modern bent of its audience as many of the forced laughs. It’s pleasant to sit through, however, and Pratt, while not quite charismatic enough to be a Harrison Ford-style movie star, is an amiable presence.