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How is it that every new Marvel Cinematic Universe is my new favorite? Because Marvel Studios is really good at their job, that's why!
It's pretty easy to understand why The Avengers was so successful; they had five movies to set up tons of hype, with recognizable characters. All Guardians of the Galaxy had was a kick-ass trailer. I guess that's enough to earn them a $94 million opening weekend.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was nice seeing a Marvel movie that didn't even pretend to take itself seriously, yet still contained a bunch of events that will impact the rest of the Universe. It was comedy gold, especially when you think it is getting serious and then something hilarious happens and changes the tone completely.
I also love getting a Marvel movie with a hard science fiction setting. Don't get me wrong, superheroes are cool, but I like technology-based powers better. Part of that is because there is the potential that we might develop that technology in the future. A big part of a good science fiction movie is the visuals, and Guardians of the Galaxy was beautiful. I loved the spaceship designs, the weapons, and the plethora of alien races on display.
The soundtrack was fantastic and definitely unique. As the trailer suggests, it is heavily based on 70s and 80s pop music like "Hooked on a Feeling", "Cherry Bomb", and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". The original score was also fantastic, and carried the emotional tone of the movie perfectly.
As an ensemble movie it worked very well. All the characters got a chance to shine, though the focus was certainly on Peter Quill, the human. Groot stole the show as the lovable beast with a heart of gold.
The one area that disappointed me with was how they stuck with entirely traditional gender roles. Gamora was supposed to be the deadliest assassin in the galaxy, but she ends up being the one who needs to be saved by Quill. Quill was also portrayed as your quintessential ladies' man, though of course a part of his character development was him finding love. Marvel has had many opportunities to be more creative and inclusive in their portrayal of genders, and it just hasn't happened yet. I hope the upcoming show Agent Carter finally breaks the mold.
I don't care who you are, you should go and see Guardians of the Galaxy as soon as you can. Seriously, just Google "Nearby showings of Guardians of the Galaxy" and it will get you on the right path.