Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.

To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits… Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot, a tree-like humanoid (voiced by Vin Diesel), the deadly and enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista).  But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

The star-studded film cast also includes others such as Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, John C. Riley, Glenn Close, and Peter Serafinowicz.

So when this film was first announced back at San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I was unfamiliar with the Guardians as I’m sure a good majority of film goers were as well.  But the closer it came to the release of this film, the more and more all the promotion got me hyped up.  And believe me, this film lived up to every bit of hype if not exceeded it.

Marvel Studios took a big gamble on bringing on James Gunn to direct this galactic masterpiece in that his past works, while good, never measured anything of this scope or magnitude before.  However that gamble paid off BIG TIME and made this 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe a HIT!

Story-wise, this movie is never lacking on plot.  The story kicks off from the beginning and continues through every minute of the film never dropping off once.  On top of that, it makes sense which is something that quite a few movies are lacking now-a-days.  The dialogue is smart but not too smart for its own good.  A huge plus to the script is that this film is damn funny as well.  So funny in fact that it would give any comedy released this year a run for its money which is rare to see from an action blockbuster like this. 

The visuals of this movie are nothing short of stunning.  Every element, from the costumes and sets, to the space battles, all the way to the CGI used in creating both Rocket and Groot are so vibrant to the point where they just pop off of the screen.  I’m not a huge 3D person as well, but the colors and textures of this film make it one that is easily enjoyable in the 3D format. 

I’d have to say that one of my favorite things about this movie is the soundtrack.  Now I have always been one who has a deep appreciation for the music of a film (as noted by my huge collection of film scores on my iPod), but what sets this film apart from others is how the great selection of music chosen for this film not only mixes well with the movement of the film, but also becomes a part of the story being told. 

Last but not least… the characters.   The cast of this film is nothing short of phenomenal, from the main five all the way down to the minor roles.  Every character is masterfully portrayed and is great in their own way, but as I have expressed already in my time since seeing the film Rocket Raccoon steals the show.  His crass and sarcasm add huge amounts to the action and humor to this film, but in that in no way takes away from the greatness of the other characters.

In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short than an A+ film.  With no tie ins to the rest of the Marvel Universe (at least not yet), the movie is easy to go into not having to worry about where the tie in will fall or how the story will connect to the previous films.  It has quickly become not only my favorite movie of the summer, but also possibly my favorite of all of the Marvel movies to date.  In summary, MAKE SURE YOU GO OUT AND SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

Official Review: 9.5 out of 10

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next installment in the Planet of the Apes prequel films, takes place 10 years since the first film Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco and John Lithgow.  Sadly, no Franco in this film except for a few second cameo, however with the tone this film sets for the franchise, it may be better that way.  This next installment stars Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis as Caeser and in the 10 years since the last, the world as we know it has changed and progressed.  ALZ-113 developed in the first film which is what gave the apes their intelligence has wiped out a majority of the world’s human population all the while the apes have flourished on their own in seclusion.  Living in peace believing that the human race has since wiped itself out, the world will change when apes and the remaining human survivors come face to face once again.

As of this moment there is no Academy Award for Motion Capture but if this film proves anything, it’s that there should certainly be one.   Andy Serkis does a PHENOMENAL job portraying the ape Caeser as does the rest of the cast who act as the remainder of the ape colony.  A job so well done in fact that within the first 10 minutes of the film you completely forget that you are watching animals that are completely CGI.  The first 30 to 40 minutes of the film have no human characters which works well for the story.  In that time, you grow to feel for the apes as you did the first one as well as everything they have built.  Once humans enter the story, the film takes a darker turn that completely sucks you in until the very end.  Keeping this as spoiler free as possible, that’s pretty much all I can say.  There is love, loss, compassion, action and war, but all in all the story and the special effects steal the show.

My review… solid 8.5 out of 10