I had never heard about the comics before a friend of mine mentioned the movie has being one of the best adaption to the big screen. Now that I've seen it, I must say: it is one of the best action movies I ever seen.
But before I start explaining why it is so awesome, let's have a little disclaimer. First, as stated above, I don't know the comics so I'm not judging the adaptation. Secondly, I haven't seen all the Marvel's movies (specifically not Thor 2 and Captain America: the winter soldier), hence I'm seing this as a standalone.
The plot is about Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, a scavenger that travels through space looking for objects to sell to private contractors. After an quite dark introduction that will give him pathos, we find him casually dancing in an old ruined palace searching of an old and mysterious orb.He will soon discover that he is not the only one looking for it. Some guy named Ronan wants the orb for his master Thanos. The later is a very powerfull being, probably the most powerful in the universe.
Star-lord soon meets three others charaters. Rocket, some kind of super intelligent raccoon, resulting from numerous and horrible scientific experiments. His friend Groot, a big talking tree that acts as his body guard. And finally, Gamora, one of the two daughters of Thanos. Both have been tortured and trained to become the most dangerous living weapons. After they all get arrested, they'll meet the last of the soon to be guardians, Drax. A very strong man that wants nothing more but to destroy Ronan, who killed his familly. They will quickly understand that if they want to survive, they going to have to team-up to fight Ronan to prevent him from getting the orb, which holds a tremendous power.
So why is this movie so good ? For a start, the characters are great. Star-Lord is very joyfull and fun. Even though he seems to be selfish, he is going to be the leader of the group that will eventually make every members stick together dispite their differences. Added to that, his wonderfull audiocassette player which plays a very important role in the music of the film. Rocket is cold, always jocking and mocking other members of the group and seems to care only about his survival and Groot's. He has very funny lines that makes him endearing. You'll love his intelligence and his energy. Groot acts has the silent (most of the time) wonder of the movie. A little naive, he soon shows that he cares a lot about others, no matter what. In fact, he is like a child, a child in the extremely powerful body of a big moving tree. Drax is the brute of the group, he takes everything very seriously, specially metaphores which he takes litterally. This leads to very funny moments. Nevertheless, he is still touching given the fact that he has lost his familly. Last but not least, Gamora, she is the most determined of the five, and the most sensible too. She has been on the dark side all her life, hence she knows what a threat are Ronan and Thanos. Now, she hopes for a change and a chance of redemption. All those characters who seems to have nothing in common will unite to protect the galaxy. They will find common ground because they all suffered, and it is this suffering that makes them who they are.
All those very good elements are supported by excellent soundtracks. Indeed, one of the greatest aspect of the movie lies in those 70s pop song you can here throughout the movie. They always pop out at unexpected moments giving the movie an energy and a joyfullness I rarely experienced. Everytime those song started, whether it was David Bowie, the Jackson 5 or Blue Swede, an uncontrollable grin came to my face. And most of the time, I kept it just long enough for another song to start. And the fact that all those soundtracks are legitimated by Star-Lord's artefact, his radiocassette player, only adds to the movie a consistency that is very valuable. The original ambiance tracks are very discrete but quite good, they simply accompagny what's happening on the screen. It offers a good break from the invasive pop songs and leave more place to the dialogs. All in all, the soundtracks are very effective.
Visually, the movie is interresting too. The colors are very faithful to the comics. A lot of plain and light colors. The special effects are very good and action scene very efficient.
But enough with the good stuff. Even if I loved this movie, there is a few things that aren't so great. I could talk about sound in space, but that wouldn't be relevant. No what really disappointed me is the character development, espicially Gamora's. It is really rushed. One scene she's with Ronan, explaining she wants to be the one trying to take back the orb, the next she tells Star-Lord that she intended from the beginning to betray him. It seems to be enough for Quill, but as a spectator, it fills odd. In fact, the other characters are not much more developped. Each has one scene, often short, where we get an explanation of the source of his suffering and thus motives (suffering is the driving force of the movie) but in the end they are all classical tropes of the genre. We've got the selfish because he suffered too much from scientific experiment, the vengeful guy-with-nothing-to-lose, the bad girl who tries to be forgiven, and the kind alien. I have to admit that the director is very honest about the movie, nothing here pretends to redefine the genre and it is a light movie. Much in contract with the late comics adaptation like Batman or The Amazing Spiderman. The movie is full of joke on those tropes we're used too. Like the "bouding" moment, where everyone stand up to affirm his will to finish the mission even if it means death. And Rocket comments "Yeah we're all standing now, like a bunch of idiots !". It's funny, but it doesn't hide the fact that marvel's got a formula they indent to use until we're all fed-up.
Anyway, despite its little flaws, the movie is great. It is full of energy, joy and fun. In my opinion, it is, after the first Iron Man, the best Marvel so far.