I've been ridiculously looking forward to GotG since the first trailer dropped and I think I was definitely influenced by the insane amount of hype I had for the film, but it did not disappoint.
I loved the infusions of 70s and 80s Earth pop culture since that is the last bit of Earth that Chris Pratt's character knew (in the first 5 minutes he's abducted from Earth circa 1988).
It was an origin movie with a hefty amount of exposition, and was a bit slow and clunky to start off with, but after a certain point (about when the Guardians started to come together in the first 1/3 of the movie) I started smiling and didn't stop.
I don't think it's a Star Wars level film like people are saying, but at the same time, if you compare it one-to-one with Star Wars: A New Hope and not the trilogy as a whole . . .
It does many things amazingly. In no particular order:
Pop culture references.
Make-up and digital effects of characters (with the exception of Thanos who looks completely stupid and cheap, I hope he improves over the course of Phase 3).
Scenery and spacecraft.
Character Relationships & Chemistry
Some of the best one-liners in recent movie history
Once you get into the movie, backstory of the characters is revealed in bits and pieces, with never taking too terribly long or distracting from the flow of the story.
People are saying Dave Bautista and Karen Gillan are low-points in the acting realm of the movie, but I thought they did fantastic. Drax the Destroyer (Bautista) is an alien that takes everything literally, so his reactions and deadpan were fitting and not (necessarily) a result of bad acting. They made his character so that his acting would not detract from it and I thought it was great. Gillan did better than she ever did on Doctor Who (where she was a regular disappointment to me in terms of acting) and her make-up and the effects of her character are some of the best in the movie. She didn't take me out of the movie at all and I had absolutely no complaints about her.
I can't underscore that enough. I went into the movie expecting that she was going to be the one low-point and I thought she was fantastic.
Many people are criticizing the level of villain in this film and that they just want to get to Thanos, but I thought the villains were suitably powerful, badass, and personal enough that I had no complaints there either.
Because of the comedy I think (which always felt natural and never wink-wink nudge-nudge to the audience), the level of intensity and fear/worry/build-up you have for the climax did not seem as incredible as say, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Granted, Cap 2 is one of the best superhero movies of all-time and probably in my top 20 best movies of all time (if not higher), so that's not necessarily a fair comparison, but I wasn't overly worried in any particular scene, even when characters started dying.
The end-credit scene is not worth staying for unless for some reason you're a huge fan of obscure superhero movies from the 80s made by George Lucas. Maybe if it was a minute of credits, but GotG is the type of movie that you're not going to want to get up to use the restroom, so forcing 5 minutes of credits on an audience expecting an Avengers 2 tease for a hah-that-was-mildly-amusing-if-you-get-the-reference moment is the low-point of the entire movie.
Here's where I think it ranks amongst the current Marvel films.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
2. The Avengers
3. Iron Man
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. Iron Man 3
7. Iron Man 2
8. The Incredible Hulk
10. Thor: The Dark World* (haven't seen)
Note that I've enjoyed all of those movies. Only Thor and the Incredible Hulk were in the 7-out-of-10 range and that's still a movie that I enjoyed but don't really need to see again. The top 4 on the list are movies that I never get tired of watching and the other two Iron Mans are fantastic entries in the series and ones I don't mind rewatching.
I'm not going to go see GotG again in theaters (unless there are friends that want to go see it with me! anyone? anyone?) but I will definitely be purchasing it and watching it again once it's available.
If you remember the 80s or are aware of the culture from back then, I think it adds an entire dimension to the film, but even if you don't, it's just a fantastic time. This is how space-adventure should be done. Fun, exciting, grounded.
Now, if you include all Marvel films. Then the ranking is something like this:
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. The Avengers
3. The Amazing Spider-Man
4. Iron Man
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
7. Iron Man 3
8. Iron Man 2
9. Spider-Man 2
10. X-Men: First Class
11. X-Men 2
14. Amazing Spider-Man 2
15. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
16. The Wolverine
18. Incredible Hulk
21. X-Men: Days of Future Past*
22. Blade 2
23. Thor: The Dark World*
25. X-Men 3: X-Men United
26. Spider-Man 3
27. Blade 3
28. Fantastic Four
29. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Note: I haven't seen the * movies, but I assume they are better than 22-29.
My favorite Marvel comic book characters going from most favorite to least favorite (not including unfavorites):
2. Iron Man
3. Captain America
4. Black Cat
5. Gwen Stacy
6. Mary Jane Watson
7. Jean Grey
. . . wow, I guess I don't really have many favorites. And that's including villains! I'm probably forgetting some. . .