Tyler Duswalt’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s commendable for Guardians of the Galaxy to be able to make up for its ubiquitous shortcomings in the central cast of antagonists and in some action sequences. This is all due to the Guardians themselves: the group is brimming with chemistry and each member overflows with personality. In fact, everything here has a distinct personality, with impressive visuals at the forefront and the embracement of a retro theme in its soundtrack and color pallet supporting it all.
Unfortunately, Ronan and Nebula (and company) stuck out like sore thumbs for being so one-dimensional when placed among characters built to be far past “flat.” And Thanos himself has improved vastly as a character since, as his demeanor here is generic compared to his evolution in Infinity War (I’m aware that this holds the early stages of Thanos, but that doesn’t excuse his plain presence). It’s these villains that create setpieces that feel very formulaic and almost tedious compared to the rest of the film. They feel as though there’s no rhyme or reason to their actions with how uninteresting they are.
But these are where most of the problems stop. It’s rare that a film can have flaws as fundamental as this but still be strong as a whole despite them. As I’ve said, the main cast of heroes is entirely lovable, their development from strangers to family is endearing and entertaining, the settings are varied and always gorgeous (save for Ronan’s ship), and the side characters are memorable. Michael Rooker’s Yondu and Del Toro’s The Collector stand out as people that are just as charismatic and enticing as the Guardians themselves. Every interaction is fun or irreverent, and they’re all the more enjoyable for Guardians of the Galaxy’s ability to be a nonstop joyride. As far as the MCU goes, this film is one of the best available within it currently. It doesn’t dwell on the melancholy, rather going for colors that pop, scenes that excite, and true hilarity to make a package that feels just right.