The word out of initial "Guardians of the Galaxy" screenings was so good that Marvel's publicists let critics squeak under the embargo to post a few rapturous words on social media. But the first reviews of the quirky tentpole are just hitting the web, and they're mostly singing director James Gunn's praises for deviating from the Marvel Cinematic Universe's well-established template. Put it this way: the words "Star Wars" come up a lot.
Reviews of "Guardians of the Galaxy"
Scott Mendelson, Forbes
The film has inventive spectacle to spare, but it remains rooted in character chemistry and successful broad-strokes storytelling that makes the action beats count as more than visceral moments. The irony of this film being distributed by Walt Disney is that it captures the genuine swashbuckling thrill and wide-eyed wonder of "Star Wars" so well that it all-but-negates the need for a new "Star Wars" franchise.
Robbin Collin, Telegraph
"Guardians of the Galaxy’s" cheerful, hectic aesthetic is closer to one of the crackpot fantasias of Guillermo del Toro than Marvel’s own increasingly house-styled output, which reassures you, even in the wake of the "Ant-Man" debacle, that the studio hasn’t entirely lost the will to experiment. Who could have guessed that, after six years of hawkish franchise-building, the new installment in cinema’s mightiest serial would be such a delirious one-off?
Daniel Krupa, IGN
If it was a risk, it’s paid off… big time. "Guardians" is right up there with the very best Marvel has made – bold, brash, fast-paced and action-packed, not to mention the funniest blockbuster in ages.
Oliver Lyttleton, Playlist
As with the original “Star Wars” (the clearest influence here, and the film is one of a small handful in nearly forty years to come close to the vibe of “A New Hope” et al, as if the Mos Eisley Cantina was spread across a larger universe), you’re thrown in at the deep end, and given enough credit that you’ll pick up things as you go on. Gunn would rather you were confused for ten minutes than bored for one, and there’s so much crammed onto screen that you never resent the movie for letting you play catch up, in part thanks to a screenplay credited to the director and Nicole Perlman that, Thanos asides aside, is well-structured and tight.
Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy
Gunn's last film "Super" was a sly deconstruction of comic book storytelling, yet "Guardians" is a celebration of old school heroism filtered through five eccentric outsiders who form this film's eponymous team. On pure entertainment value, you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie this summer as good as Marvel's latest.
James Rocchi, the Wrap
The film in fact owes as much to the space-faring fun of Joss Whedon‘s “Firefly” and “Serenity,” with its blue-collar approach to traveling the cosmos in search of profit, than it does to the other Marvel movies, and that's a good thing: Unlike the stiff-jawed heroics of the other Marvel films, this feels a little looser and lighter, with Pratt as charming, amoral accidental leader Peter Quill, an earthling among the stars who, as he will tell you, is also known as the roving brigand “Starlord.”
Mat Colgate, Quietus
What sets GotG apart from its Summer tent-pole brethren is its tremendous sense of pace and sure-footed confidence. Gunn has given himself a lot of elements to juggle — awe-inspiring locations, piratical derring-do, vast clashes between good and evil, pinpoint accurate slapstick — and he handles it all with total class; all the pieces fitting neatly together with very little in the way of flab. It's a complex, fully-formed universe that is evoked, and the film's comedic elements are never allowed to get in the way of this sense of complete immersion.
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
If "Guardians of the Galaxy" dropped its actual high stakes plot (that is, saving the universe from imminent destruction), it would still amount to a pretty enjoyable movie.There's a genuine thrill to watching these raggedy moments — rather than distracting you with effects, they apply the effects to more satisfying exchanges, and it's here that the movie provides a window into a better kind of blockbuster.
Scott Foundas, Variety
An unusually prankish and playful Marvel Studios vehicle, director James Gunn’s presumptive franchise-starter is overlong, overstuffed and sometimes too eager to please, but the cheeky comic tone keeps things buoyant — as does Chris Pratt’s winning performance as the most blissfully spaced-out space crusader this side of Buckaroo Banzai.
Steve Rose, Guardian
Movies like this are usually described in terms of popcorn but a better comparison would be space dust: it's fun, wacky, explosive and bursting with artificial colors.
James Hunt, Den of Geek
Perhaps the only way the film actively disappoints is in meeting, rather than exceeding expectations. The soundtrack is great fun, the characters are vivid, the jokes nearly always land perfectly and the visuals are routinely stunning – but you could've guessed all that from the trailers. What "Guardians" is missing is a didn't-expect-that moment to rival the plot twist in "Iron Man 3," or the long tracking shot in "Avengers." It sings. It dances. It has what is, by some distance, the best final act Marvel has produced for some time. But it doesn't quite surprise you.
Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is bland, holding absolutely zero surprises. The only questions being which song from the '70s will be used next and when will the showdown with Ronan take place so the credits can roll?