"Guardians of the Galaxy"

Oh, yeah! Actors Bradley Cooper lends the voice to Rocket Raccoon (left), while Vin Diesel voices Groot, in the new film “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

When I first saw the trailer for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” I’m pretty certain I said, “What the hell was that?” If I didn’t, I sure thought it.

The movie looked a little ridiculous. OK, a lot ridiculous. Whoever thought a talking raccoon with a machine gun was a viable option?

I didn’t read “Guardians” growing up. In fact, before the hoopla about the movie, they were only a blip on my Marvel radar, if that.

Marvel’s marketing campaign had Star-Lord and Co. plastered everywhere, though. And each time I saw the trailer, I became a little bit more intrigued.

The talking raccoon — his name is Rocket — became a little less ridiculous. In fact, he became downright hilarious as more footage was released.

Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) didn’t seem quite as shticky. His motley crew — not to be confused with Mötley Crüe — didn’t look so much like a train wreck as a team I was interested in seeing.

Suffice it to say, I got excited.

And the Guardians didn’t let me down. Marvel Cinematic Universe took a risk with this one. It’s a franchise that isn’t widely known or a sure box-office bet. But the film pulled in $94 million domestically in its opening weekend, a number that proved Marvel’s gamble paid off.

What I initially thought looked ridiculous turned out to be one of the best films of the year thus far.

The Guardians aren’t your typical set of heroes. Star-Lord is a thief for hire. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his partner Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) are bounty hunters. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is an assassin and adopted daughter of Thanos, a super big bad. And finally, there’s Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). He’s called the Destroyer so do I really need to say more?

Thrown together in prison, the group unites with two big payoffs in mind: one is dollars and one could save the universe. Technically, they don’t realize the latter is an option, but it comes into play pretty quickly.

I’ve never been big on comedies, but “Guardians” had me laughing despite myself. The one-liners are smartly timed, and all of the actors prove the master of his or her domain.

Pratt is a familiar face on the sitcom scene as a regular on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” His comedic talent shines as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. Quill is a leader with a misguided heart of gold. I’ve heard some compare him to Han Solo, but his skills with the ladies are Captain James T. Kirk all the way.

Gamora is as bad-ass as they come. She’s trying to break free from the life she’s led. The chip on her shoulder is big, but she’s trying to think first, kill later.

Drax is the visible muscle of the group, although the others are just as physically capable. He’s big, he’s strong and he will crush you. However, he also provides some fantastic laughs during the movie, even if it’s unintentional on his part (not the script’s, mind you).

Finally, we have Rocket and Groot. While both are CGI creations and the latter only has the ability to say one line over and over, the two add laughs and a lot of heart. Rocket lets the wisecracks and bullets fly. My earlier impressions were totally off the mark. He’s not ridiculous, he’s awesome.

The movie features a stellar — pun intended — supporting cast as well. John C. Reilly and Michael Rooker are both perfect in their roles. Reilly is a guard that plays the perfect straight man while Rooker plays Yondu Udonta, who interestingly enough was one of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” in its 1969 debut.

Yondu is a hybrid of bad and almost good. He’s not the big bad for this film, but he’s the only “villain” that doesn’t suck.

Marvel films have regularly had fantastic character development for its heroes, but the villains are lackluster, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki excluded.

Lee Pace is Ronan the Accuser, a leader in the Kree Empire. Even after acquiring an Infinity stone, which supplies him unlimited power and could destroy worlds, Ronan is just kind of lame. He’s not fearsome nor does he seem overly imposing.

Next, we have Nebula, another adopted daughter of Thanos. She’s played by Karen Gillan of “Doctor Who” fame and is just as much a snore as Ronan. Despite trying to develop the character, Nebula falls flat.

Director James Gunn had the odds stacked against him with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he created a film that enthralls and entertains. It’s filled with action, great characters, a lot of well-done laughs and even some heart. In fact, there was a moment or two that made me cry. I’ll admit it.

Aside from the craptastic villains, everything works here. It’s a movie the whole family can enjoy, and if you’re like me, you’ll love the ’80s pop culture references interspersed throughout it.

I’ll go ahead and give it my highest rating. And, I hope everybody runs — not walks — to get in line for this one.

Amanda Greever is the assistant managing editor of The Daily Times. Contact her at amanda.greever@thedailytimes.com, follow her on Twitter @agreever_editor and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.

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