The Irish embargo on this lasted a bit longer than most other regions, but it's now lifted and I can tell you what I thought of Marvel's latest. Does Guardians Of The Galaxy deserve the praise that's been heaped upon it? I am Groot!

Be honest, when Marvel announced that one of their 2014 big screen releases would be Guardians of the Galaxy some of you asked "the who of the what?", while some simply wondered why they were bothering with such an obscure property. But then the trailer hit..and the rest is history. GOTG went from almost an afterthought to one of the most anticipated CBMs in recent memory -- and I'm very happy to report that you all have every reason to be excited.

Right from the opening title scene which sees Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) dancing to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" while en route to a space-heist, the tone is set. You've probably known me to take issue with Marvel's use of humor in some of their previous movies, but it wasn't the comedic elements I was objecting to, rather when and how they were used. GOTG is by far Marvel's funniest film yet, but it's genuine, flows naturally and doesn't offset any of the more dramatic moments. Of course it helps that the main characters are so damn likable and engaging.

The Avengers are cool; they crack wise, they save the world, etc etc -- but they are all pretty well paid for their efforts and (maybe Banner aside) accepted members of society. The Guardians are outcasts, downtrodden, desperate, but still risk everything to see a planet saved, justice done, and to facilitate the violent revenge of a bloodthirsty lunatic. In short, they're just better company.

As Quill, Pratt oozes charm and just-the-right-side-of-irksome cockiness to make for a terrific lead. WWE Superstar Dave Bautista is going to silence his naysayers with an assured, physical, and very funny turn as Drax. Zoe Saldana is as reliable as ever as the "deadliest woman alive" Gamora, though she doesn't really get to flex her comedy chops -- I guess there has to be a straight man woman. Then there's Groot and Rocket. You've heard these guys steal the show, and they do. Sure the Raccoon gets the funniest lines but it's more than that -- he and his adorable giant tree-creature pal are the heart and soul of this movie, and should instantly shoot to the top of most people's favorite Marvel character list.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for the villain contingent. Lee Pace is menacing enough as lead baddie Ronan, but his motivations are a tad murky. Something about a peace treaty he rejects, and so wants to exterminate an entire planet. His sidekick Nebula looks cool, but that's about it. Karen Gillan is a perfectly capable actress, but whether it's down to a lack of material or some kinda terrible line delivery, she just doesn't impress here at all. Oh and Benecio del Toro and Djimon Hounsou are also in the movie for some reason.

Also in the negative side of things, as risky as GOTG is in many ways, plot is not one of them. Sure there's an anarchic, suitably punchy vibe to the pacing  but ultimately it's Marvel Studios formula all the way, and the film concludes with yet another slightly convoluted air battle. Of course that won't bother everyone, but it would have been nice to have a few story surprises to go along with the rest of the gleeful craziness on display.

Here's the thing though: Guardians of the Galaxy gets away with it. The truly excellent stuff in this movie so far outweighs the bad that -- though potentially pretty big problems for another film -- here they seem like nitpicks. James Gunn deserves all the praise going for taking a bunch of little-known characters and, without solo films to establish them, bringing them to the screen as well rounded, three dimensional individuals, before putting them together believably as a team -- all the while making you laugh until you cry...then just cry.

Marvel's best movie? Not sure about that..but it's by far my favorite one. Not without some problems, but hilarious, heartfelt, and just brilliantly odd -- Guardians of The Galaxy is the most entertaining flick I've seen in many years, and chances are you'll want to go right back in and see it again as soon as you leave the theater.
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