Now, full disclosure here; i enjoyed this movie. I'm saying that because i'm gonna end up saying quite a lot of negatives about the film, but hey, it's all opinions guys!
If you are a comic geek (like me) then i probably don't have to tell you to go see this but well, you definitely have to see this, it's just so full of easter eggs that made me geek out. Regularly.
The plot is fairly simple, on the surface. Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord) steals an orb from someone called Ronan and after being locked up with Gamora, Rocket Raccoon and Groot (long story). Drax the Destroyer happens to be in the same prison as them and so they all team up to break out with the orb and sell it sharing the profits between everyone except Drax, who's tagging along because Gamora betrayed Ronan so he banks on him showing up so that he can get a shot at revenge. I could explain it all but it just wouldn't be worth the effort, and herein lies one of the major problems of the movie. See, the big team-up hook of say, Avengers worked great because we'd already met each individual character, so the movie didn't need to give us their back-story or reveal their character, that was already taken care of. But here? We have to be introduced to every single Guardian, given character motivations and shown a character arc. This leaves no time for plot and thus we receive a pretty bog standard fight over an orb (read: infinity gem) and then when the bad guy does get it, stop him wiping billions of people out with it. Yep, Ronan is just Malekith guys, re-enacting Thor: the Dark World. Which sucks because He's actually a fantastic villain in the comics, with an intricate back-story and all that which is actually pretty engaging. But in the film it's only really hinted at and well, we probably wont be seeing it played out from what we see. However. One of the plots redeeming factors is that it comes up with an excuse to show us a certain someone, which i'll put as a spoiler just because it being a surprise is so awesome.
So Thanos shows up. And not like he does in the Avengers, this is full on in the flesh, seeing and hearing him. If i were to nitpick i'd say the CGI was a little dodgy on him and he never came across as all that intimidating for the ultimate villain of the universe, but hey! It's f***ing Thanos guys! And he looks exactly like Thanos.
Beyond that, there isn't much else to say regards the plot, the collector shows up, but he just delivers some exposition on the infinity gem.
The wafer thin plot is to be fair, acceptable in a movie like this. It's all about the Guardians themselves. So let's go through them.
Star Lord: Chris Pratt is, as always, hilarious playing the likable asshole, and he pulls a lot of great comedic moments out of the bag. We also see how he was taken up to Earth as a kid immediately after his mother died. The idea of his mother dying is well climaxed as he manages to resolve that childhood trauma and plays out as the best emotional moment of the film. Sadly, however satisfying it was, it just goes to show how blunt and poorly aimed all the other emotional scenes were. We're gonna need spoilers here again:
So when Gamora ends up drifting in space (and not exploding to to vacuums but whatever) Peter floats out and gives her his helmet, which stops her from dying (somehow) but then leaves him floating in space with her still unconscious. And they both of course survive as they're picked up by a ship. Now you could argue that it works as a turning point for his character but it's so full of scientific errors and is so predictable that honestly, i couldn't get invested.
Gamora: Possibly the worst depicted guardian. Ok ok, put the gun down man. Ahem. She's just not given enough screen time for me to get emotionally invested in her character at all. Yes, she has a decent back-story, but it hardly plays out at all. But Zoe Saldana does do a good job of being the straight woman to give her some credit.
Drax the Destroyer: Hit and miss. He's funny and Batista has put my fears to rest about his acting chops, but though he's given more time than most to his character arc, it arcs half way and then skips to the end. His completely literal nature is done well and gets a few laughs too and when we first meet him he is really imposing and threatening. He feels like a maniacal madman out for revenge.
Groot: Adorable. He's like a child with insane powers and while he doesn't have an arc or anything, he doesn't need one, he's the heart of the film, providing some lovely feel-good moments and just being altogether lovable.
Rocket Raccoon: My favorite thing about the movie. He's hilarious, he's got an engaging back-story which doesn't play out conventionally because he feels like a guy who has a lid tight on his painful past. Even when the rest of the guardians earn his trust, he still keeps his feelings hidden. Apart from when he gets drunk, no-one gets inside his head. If Groot is the heart of the film then Rocket is the soul.
Sidenote: The other main problem this movie has apart from too many characters is that it doesn't take itself seriously enough for me to take it seriously when it gets to dramatic moments. Pretty much every one of them is undermined by a joke immediately after it.
Visually incredible. Overlooking a slightly anti-climactic ending battle (as in, the end of the end battle, the main bulk of it is really good) all of it is really enjoyable, especially if Rocket is involved. Flying sequences look spectacular and creatively put together, especially a moment involving the nova core that played out really nicely. Groot's superpowers are put to use well if inconsistently but we do get some really cool sequences where he just annihilates his foes in imaginative ways. So yeah, nothing particularly special but still thoroughly enjoyable.
I feel i need this section to highlight all the good points about the film because i realize i'm coming across as incredibly negative. Maybe i'm a little harsh on it because of how fantastic Captain America The Winter Soldier was dramatically as well as visually. The comedy in Guardians hits the bulls-eye, always funny and not over done. The soundtrack is also brilliant, both in its own right and also in furthering the comedy in a fantastic scene with Star Lord Stealing the orb early on. This is also probably the most nerd-tastic film marvel have done to date, so expect a lot of easter egg analysis across the web, cause there are tonnes.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a whale of a time at the cinema. It misses the mark a lot from a dramatic standpoint, but never from a comedic one, and see, the thing with this movie is that it's just so fun, and everyone's so damn likable that while it's not what i'd call compelling, it's so good at what it IS, that it's enough for me to forgive what it ISN'T and tell you that it's definitely worth a watch. I'm looking forward to the sequel.