Guardians of the Galaxy – 5 stars
The model summer movie, with perfectly distributed action, humor and homage. There is nothing original in the film – Chris Pratt as intergalactic robber “Star Lord” is a younger, hipper Han Solo, Vin Diesel is Chewbacca without the fur, and the Death Star has been miniaturized to a tiny crystal – but if not unique, it is fresh. Rather than reaching for the myth of Star Wars, Guardians opts for more humor, and the operatic sweep of John Williams is replaced by vintage pop, courtesy of Pratt’s 70s mixtape. There is sweetness (Bradley Cooper voices a surprisingly moving raccoon) and while director James Gunn’s resume’ (Slither) contains nothing suggesting an ability to handle this fare, the actions sequences are expert, comprehensible and brief, avoiding the mind-numbing excess of so many Marvel pictures. The only criticism is the short shrift given to the motives and backstory of the villains, but I assume that comes in the inevitable and welcome sequel.