Guardians of the Galaxy ★★★★

From the studio that brought you Iron Man, Captain America & Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy arrives as Marvel Studios' biggest gamble to date and yet, the risk pays off tremendously well as this crazy mixture of an oddball cast & an eccentric crew strikes gold for the studio in both critical & commercial departments and succeeds as an immensely enjoyable, extremely entertaining & most satisfying Marvel piece since The Avengers.

Set in a galaxy far far away, Guardian of the Galaxy concerns a notorious scavenger who finds himself as the main target of a manhunt after stealing a mysterious orb and is put in prison along with a deadly assassin, a genetically-engineered raccoon & a tree-like humanoid where they encounter a brute looking for vengeance. As an uneasy alliance form between these extra-terrestrial misfits, they learn to work together as a team & try to save the world when a greater threat arises.

There is so much in here that could've so easily gone wrong and there's no denying that many eyebrows were raised when James Gunn was brought in to direct this high-budget space epic. But he has done his job with such precision craftsmanship that it feels like a work of an auteur & the remarkable use of humour infused into its blockbuster elements only makes the experience all the more amusing, enriching & delightfully engaging.

Coming to its technical aspects, every single filmmaking department works in near-perfect harmony with the other in a manner that only elevates its overall story & characters to new heights. Set pieces are impressive to look at, make-up adds a dimension of its own to its characters, its homage to many space classics is tastefully carried out, cinematography makes dynamic use of camera without ever getting carried away, editing is tight, VFX is seamless & the selection of songs is near-perfect.

The cast is as eccentric & diverse as the characters present in the film with Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Vin Diesel (Groot) & Bradley Cooper (Rocket) playing the role of Guardians and each of them deliver excellent performances with Groot & Rocket leaving the most lasting impression. Also chipping in with fair doses are Lee Pace (Ronan), Michael Rooker (Yondu) & Karen Gillian (Nebula), with brief appearance from Benicio del Toro & John C. Reilly also adding more flavours to the film.

On an overall scale, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most exquisitely balanced cinematic offerings of 2014 that promises a lot of fun from start to finish and seamlessly delivers it in an endlessly entertaining & immensely rewarding manner. Ingeniously directed, wonderfully light-hearted, fluidly photographed, skilfully edited, splendidly performed & featuring dazzling visuals, Guardians of the Galaxy is arguably the ballsiest big-budget production to surface on the silver screen since James Cameron's Avatar. Delightfully recommended.

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