David Jenkins’s review published on Letterboxd:
'Guardians of the Galaxy' is everything I thought that it would be and more. It is a goofy, fun sci-fi adventure with a witty script that continually keeps on giving. Like most of the Marvel movies it has its drawbacks but it feels like a perfect introduction to these rag-tag characters. From the clear James Gunn style to a fantastic ensemble cast, this is one of the most impressive films Marvel have put out. It balances comedy and action in an effortless manner. The whole film just oozes charm and will please Marvel fans as much as it will those looking for a fun sci-fi adventure. Visually it is often stunning and the visual effects are superb in bringing to life some of the more outlandish beings presented to us. The film also doesn't take itself as seriously as a lot of comic book movies tend to do and that is where the films true charm lies. My audience was laughing along from start to finish with all 5 of our main characters each delivering their fair share of the laughs.
What this film also makes clear is that Chris Pratt is probably going to be a big deal around Hollywood for the foreseeable future. He has the charisma and charm to be a likeable leading man and this film showcases that he can carry a film with ease. He has that Han Solo roughish charm mixed in with a helping of a lovable oaf. He often carries the film to greatness and his chemistry with practically everyone he is paired with is always entertaining. The rest of the cast are also great in their respective roles. Zoe Saldana does what Zoe Saldana does best and delivers a strong confident female hero who more than holds her own against the rest of the group. Her back-story is also highly intriguing and there is real potential there for some interesting developments in future instalments. Dave Bautista was however the real surprise for me. I feared his lack of acting chops would be a stumbling block for the film but his deadpan delivery of his dialogue was spot on and leads to some of the best jokes in the film. He has the physical presence to pull off his character and he more than proved himself to me here.
While Chris Pratt's Star Lord is undoubtedly the star of the film the real heart and soul of it is Rocket and Groot, to many they will be "the raccoon and the tree". Rocket for me was the scene stealer but Groot wasn't far behind. James Gunn needed to get their execution spot on or else the whole film could have become a farce. He somehow makes it work effortlessly. Voiced by two of the biggest names in the cast they are the two breakout characters of the film. Bradley Cooper is often unrecognisable as Rocket while Vin Diesel gets some commendable mileage out of the words "I am Groot". They were the two characters who I found my gaze wandering towards when they were on the screen. The overall goofiness of a talking tree and raccoon double team also embodies everything that this franchise will be about. The CGI is also believable enough that it is easy to forget these two creatures aren't actually in the room with the other actors. The whole chemistry of the 5 team members is superb. Considering this film will be many peoples first exposure to these zany characters you will find yourself caring for them all when the credits roll.
Despite all this gushing praise for the film I do have some minor quibbles. As with practically all of Marvel's films, the villains here are quite underwhelming. Because this film is introducing us to so many characters they clearly get lost in the mix. Lee Pace's Ronan is a serviceable bad guy but he doesn't have that much to do beyond serving as a plot point to bring these 5 characters together. There is also the slight problem of him being overshadowed by a much more menacing presence being teased to the audience for future films. Beyond the villains, the plot falls into all the regular trappings that every Marvel film is plagued with. We are presented with a MacGuffin type object early on and we then spend the entire film with everyone chasing after it. It doesn't really bother me because the characters in each film are often more than enough hold my interest. It is however becoming a slightly tired plot formula at this point and will hopefully not continue to be the focus in every Marvel film released. I would also briefly complain that we get little actual development for some of the characters. Rocket, Groot, Drax and Gamora are all given very brief back stories and it would have been nice to see them fleshed out a bit more. Star Lord is rightfully given the focus for this first outing but he is also the only one given any real complete arc in the story. None of these problems were deal-breakers for me but for those not quite susceptible to 'Guardians' charm the film might end up feeling formulaic and part of the Marvel conveyor belt.
All things considered, Marvel took a slight risk with 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and it has paid off big time. While it was always most likely going to do well due to its connection to the hugely popular Avengers film, it truly deserves all the success it is going to get. It is a James Gunn film as much as it is a comic book movie. Witty, charming and highly entertaining. The awesome soundtrack attached to the film only adds to its overwhelming charm. Much like when the trailer was released, I am going to have "Hooked on a feeling" stuck in my head for weeks. As an overall film, of course it has its problems but they were minor bumps in the road for me. Those looking for a fun time with a rag-tag group of rogues, lunatics, a talking tree and a gun totting raccoon however will leave more than happy. For fun sci-fi escapism there are not many better films out there. I had a real blast watching it and I can't wait to go back and experience it all again tomorrow.