I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Film Critic
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY | Rated PG-13 | Director: James Gunn | Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close
One could reason that THE AVENGERS and X2 are the greatest Marvel movies around. With their wit, exciting characters and explosive action, they have cemented themselves into superhero movie greatness. Another feature to add to the mix is James Gunn‘s equally as impressive GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It’s a visual feast spiced with non-stop humor, bada*sery and fun.
The story follows Peter Quill (an excellent Chris Pratt), who, after stealing a mysterious orb in the far stretches of space, is now the primary target of a manhunt led by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). To help fight Ronan, Quill (otherwise known as Star Lord) creates a team known as “Guardians of the Galaxy” to save the universe.
First, we have to talk about James Gunn, who does wonders to this film’s script by not forcing dialogue. Everything feels natural and believable in such a world. The interaction between the characters is much more organic than one would have ever anticipated. He took what appears to be a very silly premise, with silly looking characters and made it completely work. You can tell he not only did his homework, but he really cares deeply for the material, and his passion definitely shows on-screen, like Joss Whedon with THE AVENGERS.
The best thing about these characters is that they are not twenty-something terrible actors who were opted for on-screen eye candy. Chris Pratt and his acting gang all do a fine job of bringing these characters to life, and their chemistry is infectious. Put together, they are an unstoppable force, especially with the scene-stealing Bradley Cooper (as Rocket) and Vin Diesel (as Groot). Everyone is given great moments to shine, which makes it a far more balanced film than we usually get in superhero flicks.
However, the heroes wouldn’t be as impressive if they weren’t made up by an equally memorable villain. You would think the part of the villain would be a difficult one to play being opposite such powerful personalities and strong characters, but Lee Pace does an outstanding job. His performance as Ronan the Accuser should not go unnoticed.
Bottom line, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is one of the few gems that shine in sea of weak summer blockbusters. It’s the funniest (and weirdest) Marvel movie yet. Gunn brings the guns, and his cast deliver an entertaining space adventure worth your time and money. Watch out, Whedon and J.J. Abrams.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens tonight at 7 p.m. in 2D and 3D.