Devon Seltzer’s review published on Letterboxd:
It would be easy to say that Marvel was taking a big risk with Guardians of the Galaxy, adapting a relatively unknown series and giving it to a relatively unknown director. However, the end result of this story of misfits coming together to save millions of lives ended up so well crafted that I don't think there was any risk at all. Director James Gunn clearly knew exactly what movie he was making, and delivered a fun filled sci-fi adventure romp with nary a dull moment.
Guardians feels a lot like many other beloved sci-fi adventure stories like Star Wars or Firefly in that it keeps things light of tone for the most part, with a pretty simple story, and it lets the characters do most of the heavy lifting. This works out perfectly for the film as the characters are by far the best feature on display. The main team consists of Peter Quill, who would prefer you call him Star-Lord, a loveable goof who keeps things glued together and is played with panache by Chris Pratt, the green-assassin Gamora, played by the incredibly attractive Zoe Salanda, who gives the character pathos and strength in equal amounts, Drax the Destroy, a hulk who is dense in more ways then one, and is brought to wonderful life by Dave Bautista, and a duo of bounty hunters, Rocket and Groot, a gun-crazy raccoon and a sentient tree respectively. While Quill and Drax get a lot of the film's humor, the scenes are constantly stolen by Rocket and Groot. Rocket is given great life by the voice talent of Bradley Cooper, normally I would never use the word talent in the same sentence as Bradley Cooper, but here he delivers, turning in a remarkable performance. Speaking of remarkable performances, Vin Diesel gets more emotion out of Groot's three word vocabulary then many actors would milk from a thesaurus, giving the film its most loveable and fun character overall.
The film does have its weaknesses, Lee Pace's villain Ronan is perfectly menacing, but his motives are vague at best. The writing also falters a little when it comes time to get all of the characters together, forcing the issue a little and then presto, they all get along for the most part, leaving the team-up feeling a bit rushed and unearned at the beginning. Also, Gunn handles the film fantastically for the most part, but his action scenes could use a little work, ending up a bit choppier then would be ideal. However, these are small complaints in an otherwise delightful film.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a visual feast, Gunn fills the screen with bright colors and impressive visuals, which consist of a welcome mix of practical and digital effects work. The script is snappy and sharp, stuffing the film full of endlessly quotable and hilarious jokes, as well as plenty of world building and character drama, without resorting to hammy back-stories via flashback. Add in the superb cast (I didn't even get to talk about Michael Rooker), and you have one of, if not, the best film in the Avengers line-up yet, which is pretty impressive considering that line-up includes The Avengers. The sequel to Guardians feels so far off now, as does their eventual inclusion in the main Avengers story, however, until then I'll just have to anticipate watching this one over and over again, or else I might get so angry I would end up kicking a clump of grass.