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Guardians of the Galaxy/Rated PG-13 for Sci-Fi Violence and a Rude Gesture by the Leading man – Apparently Improvised on the Spot.

The filmmakers who created Guardians of the Galaxy certainly didn’t give anything away in the trailers. The trailers were specifically filmed for promotional use and are not even in the movie. This turns out to be a good thing.

The film is a delightful surprise. While the preview looked promising, it also looked like a Star Wars derivative. Gigantic outer space battle scenes and character fights are all things we’ve seen before.

But as you get into the film, you find it has a lot more to offer: originality, humor, and irony. And the film’s makers never forget to be entertaining in the course of a story that incorporates the conflicts of galaxy-wide cultures. A surprise cameo has been credited as Cosmo the Marvel Space Dog. Considering where he appears and the insignia on his space suit, I would argue it’s a famous dog named Little Curly and later called Laika or Barker (Born 1954, died November 3, 1957). Those who lived during the time of Laika should remember this historically famous animal.

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Chris Pratt (60 pounds lighter) plays Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord who discovers the orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser. (CP also acted in Zero Dark Thirty, 128 episodes of TV’s Parks and Recreation, is currently filming the new Jurassic Park movie and may be in a forthcoming big screen version of Knight Rider.)

Zoe Saldana continues her successful career in space. (She has played Uhuru in the Star Trek series since 2009.) She was also in Avatar and its three sequels – currently in pre-production – and, we assume, the third Star Trek film. This time she’s green.

David Bautista plays the big and heavily muscled Drax. His prior acting experience was primarily in the pro wrestling circuit – something that’s immediately evident. Recent Oscar nominee, Bradley Cooper is the voice of Rocket the Raccoon and Vin Diesel voices Groot the Tree. He looks like an animated version of the trees in the first Tin Man scene in The Wizard of Oz. These folks make up the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The special effects are brilliant. With $170 million in the budget, they should be. Tyler Bates provides a wonderful score, best noticed during the end titles. The rest of the time hit songs of the 70s and 80s take center stage. The film is 111 minutes long, with another 10 minutes of end credits leading up to a final scene with some ties to the same scene in the end of the original Thor film.

Producer, writer and director James Gunn does a terrific job of guiding the film to a highly satisfying conclusion. This is his biggest assignment to date. He also scripted Scooby Doo and the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead. A sequel to GOTG is announced in the end credits and planned for 2017.

Those who experienced, and were surprised by, how great Star Wars was in its first release may be in for a similar experience here. I was.

Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 hopes the surviving Guardians remember to do the necessary watering.

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