Movies about teams of superheroes — “Suicide Squad,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” — have, in a way, become the bane of the genre. Each team is attached to a powerful mythology, yet what the movies often come down to is: more characters, more tickets sold, more merchandise. But “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the greatest movie about a team of superheroes since Pixar’s “The Incredibles.” It’s the masterpiece, so far, of the Marvel Studios brand. It’s also the rare sci-fi blockbuster that has a renegade joy comparable to that of the first “Star Wars” film. You know you’re in a universe you want to stay in the moment that Chris Pratt, in the middle of a death-defying situation, does a casually charismatic bop to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” (best taste in superhero mixtapes ever). As the half-human, half-alien Peter Quill, who must stop an Infinity Stone from falling into oppressive hands, Pratt is a wide-eyed rock & roll knight, like Luke Skywalker merged with Han Solo. He gathers up a band of extraterrestrials who might have been invented to illustrate the word “motley” (Rocket the raccoon, Groot the tree trunk, Drax the Destroyer), and the hook of their interplay is that they truly don’t like each other. That’s how much riveting ego is on display. The director, James Gunn, juggles it all — the battles, the stunning effects, a story you actually care about — like a virtuoso of fun. —OG
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