Movie Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Starring
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker
Director
James Gunn

Marvel Studios has a history of taking some big risks, from the men behind the camera to those in front of it, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” is perhaps their biggest one yet. Not only is the comic book on which it’s based an unknown quantity to most moviegoers (if Iron Man used to be considered a B-list character, then the Guardians are on the D-list), but James Gunn isn’t exactly the first person you’d think of to direct a big-budget comic book movie. Despite his lack of experience, the bigwigs at Marvel clearly saw something in his earlier work (the horror comedy “Slither” and the superhero satire “Super”) that suggested he was the right man for the job, and Gunn has definitely repaid their faith in him by producing the best possible version of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” film and one of the most purely fun Marvel movies to date.

Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, a member of an intergalactic group of thieves and smugglers who was kidnapped from Earth as a young boy. When he’s sent by his boss Yondu (Michael Rooker) to steal a mysterious orb, only to double-cross him in order to keep the artifact for himself, Quill becomes the target of a power-hungry alien named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who’s made a deal with the Mad Titan Thanos (the purple-skinned figure teased at the end of “The Avengers”) to give him the orb in exchange for destroying his enemy’s home planet. After he’s captured and thrown into prison, Quill teams up with a quartet of fellow misfits – deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), revenge-driven bruiser Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), gun-toting raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and tree-like humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel) – to mount an escape. But when the group discovers the true power of the orb, they agree to stick together a little longer in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

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Movie Review: “Fast & Furious 6″

Starring
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Gina Garano
Director
Justin Lin

The “Fast and Furious” franchise is like popcorn movie kryptonite – it’s my only weakness. (Okay, maybe not my only weakness.) But for as cheesy, soapy and utterly preposterous as the movies can get at times, they’re also incredibly entertaining, especially following director Justin Lin’s retooling of the series. Though the sixth installment doesn’t quite live up to 2011’s “Fast Five,” which took the franchise to new heights in more ways than one, it still delivers everything that fans have come to expect over the years. Bigger and dumber but still tons of fun, “Fast & Furious 6” may have you rolling your eyes even more than usual, but that’s part of what make the series so great.

Picking up several months after the events of “Fast Five,” the movie finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) laying low in Spain when he’s visited by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with some interesting news: his old flame, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), isn’t quite as dead as previously believed. In fact, she’s working with a British soldier turned criminal named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who’s planning on stealing a top secret computer chip worth billions, and Hobbs needs Dom’s help to catch him. With the promise of full pardons for everyone involved, and the added incentive of finding out what happened to Letty, Dom enlists the rest of the crew (save for Puerto Rican jokesters Tego and Rico) and heads to London to face off against Shaw and his own team of street racing criminals.

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