nicktday’s review published on Letterboxd:
As Rocket would say "ooooh yeah".
I know it's based on Marvel's massive wealth of source material and as such can't be called original but Guardians of the Galaxy is a magnificent breath of fresh air in an age when every summer is chock full of familiar names. The only sadness is that in 3 years from now GotG2 will fit straight into that category.
Long live the death of the origin story. As much as I adore Batman Begins it sure has a lot to answer for in the years since it's release. Indy, James Bond (until Casino Royale), John McClane, Martin Riggs et al are all characters without a shred of on screen back story. To be instantly dropped into the world of Peter Quill and co is the single biggest delight of the film. Watching the characters function in a world in which you are playing catch up is incredibly enjoyable. Yes it is true that this is an origin story bringing the Guardian's together but as individual characters they are all fully developed long before the film begins.
James Gunn does a brilliant job of keeping things moving fast and ensures the film is an absolute hoot the entire time. I was expecting a large dose of witty banter but I wasn't ready for the film to be quite so heavy on outright comedy. Most of the jokes hit the sweet spot and there are several laugh aloud moments but unfortunately the repetitive nature of it becomes a bit predictable. You end up awaiting the joke that'll end every tense action beat. It's easily forgiving though by the excellent charisma of the cast.
Rocket is a revelation, Groot is a sweetheart and Peter Quill is the perfect leading man - cool, likeable and totally badass. Gamora is a femme fatale with heart and reason and Drax is a force of nature and a penchant for stating the obvious. His character feels the least realised, he is used for comic effect a little too often given his tragic past. Together they are wonderful to watch, the dynamic absolutely works and luckily it's where almost all the focus lies.
The galaxy is a beautiful place, the costume designs and sets and art direction are all stunning, the film looks amazing. Coming back to Terra for the next Marvel outing is going to seem a little dull now. The film is filled to the brim with geeky things for children of the 80's to adore, it has a wealth of visuals to appease the most hardcore sci-fi nut and has some fast, smart, visceral action to sit alongside the best summer blockbuster. I love the final moments and how the Guardians use the Infinity Stone. It's emotional, powerful the best way any big bad has been defeated thus far in a Marvel movie. It lays a very interesting path for the future for what the Guardians can achieve together.
Now Marvel have proved their longevity (6 years and counting) and have now proved their willingness to explore new territory I am hopeful they will continue to make bold choices with future properties and give us plenty more new characters to enjoy. That said I just hope we see the Guardians saying hello to Tony Stark, Thor, Hulk and Caps very very soon because despite their cosmic locale they are definitely part of the same world. Long live the Marvel cinematic universe.
That said, if Marvel wont to remain here for years to come they have one serious issue they need to address and a few minor niggles to iron out. The niggles first...
Their formula - I don't know how they can avoid the trappings of escalating action until a big finale but they do need to start thinking about it cos it's getting a little obvious.
Their finales - enough of the aerial battles already! (a consequence of the shit ass 3D fad I fear).
Stan Lee - I respect what he gave us and all, it was fantastic but I abhor his cameos, they are the bane of every Marvel film.
The serious issue is their rogues gallery. To date the MCU hasn't had one single decently realised bad guy. Many have come close to being excellent and their designs and motivations are often perfect. The trouble is Marvel have a terrible tendency to sideline the villain in favour of heroes and this castrates them of any genuine impact. Never has their been a villain you feel could actually harm a hero. Sure they cause problems and antagonise (as they should) but never have they spread a true sense of fear through the movie. Not compared to say, Heath Legder's The Joker. Lets hope Joss Whedon has big plans for Ultron.
Until The Avengers return however, I have this perfectly crafted, wonderfully entertaining movie to re-watch many times.