(MOVIE REVIEW) If the Avengers are Marvel’s golden children, then the Guardians of the Galaxy are certainly the comic giant’s punky, alternative cousins.

Directed and written by James Gunn, who previously wrote the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and both Scooby-Doo installments, Guardians of the Galaxy proves that big-budget action movies can be as clever as they are explosive.

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, and stars Chris Pratt. Photo Credit: Guardians of the Galaxy

Everything about this movie is huge—especially the cast, which includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

The film may have an overwhelming number of big name characters, but they each prove their worth equally.

Cooper voices the film’s breakout star, Rocket Raccoon, a tormented, genetically engineered raccoon, and easily the movie’s smartest character.

Throughout Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket struggles with his identity brought on by the genetic experiments that created him, making him understandably wary of the humanoids he encounters.

Gunn speaks during the Guardians of the Galaxy panel at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con
Director James Gunn discussed his version of Rocket Raccoon during the 2013 Comic-Con. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Despite his cautious demeanor towards most, Rocket’s closest friend is an anthropomorphic tree named Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. Both Rocket and Groot are in tune with each other every step of the way, showing how much more animals understand nature than we do.

Last year at Comic-Con, Gunn addressed his sympathetic take on Rocket’s character, whose origin in the comics that inspired the film, differs.

The director said:

“It’s not about creating Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers, it’s about creating a character that’s a little animal that was taken and experimented on and pulled apart and put back together again and implanted with cybernetics, and he’s half-machine and half raccoon and he’s a little gnarled, miserable, pretty angry creature because there’s nothing else like him and it’s not easy to be.”

Gunn shouldn’t only be commended for his insight, but also for the incredibly entertaining movie he put together.

Guardians of the Galaxy is also visually beautiful. Its vibrant color scheme pops against the eerie darkness of the film’s background, and Gunn’s trademark humor cuts through the action without missing a beat.

But the most unique and refreshing aspect of the film comes from its soundtrack. Composed of mostly pop hits from the 60s and 70s, no Hollywood crafted blockbuster, in recent memory, has used music as effectively as Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s safe to say the careers of both James Gunn and Chris Pratt, who plays the lead character Peter Quill/Star-Lord, will only continue to skyrocket after this hit.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy makes the leap from the comics to the movies Friday, August 1st.
Marvel’s Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord, Groot and Drax are just the most recent characters to make the jump to the big screen. Photo Credit: Guardians of the Galaxy

Just over two hours long, Guardians of the Galaxy really is a quality, dark, yet quirky blockbuster. Although some of the humor could be too much for some young children, those of proper age (the film has a PG-13 rating) should definitely check out Guardians of the Galaxy when it opens this Friday, August 1.

Global Animal gives this movie five paws.

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Watch the trailer below.

— Anthony Armentano, exclusive to Global Animal