The movie chronicles the accidental formation of the "Guardians of the Galaxy," which starts when Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt) retrieves an orb from some ruins. As it happens, Ronan the Accuser (a scenery-chewing Lee Pace), a nutjob Kree, has promised to deliver the orb to Thanos the Mad Titan. He sends Thanos' adoptive daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to take the orb from Quill. Meanwhile, raccoon-like bounty hunter Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his sidekick Groot (Vin Diesel) try to nab Quill because he now has a bounty on his head from taking the orb before the Ravagers, a crew of bandits whose leader (Michael Rooker, eeeeee!!!) raised him. It goes wonky for everyone, and they end up in a high-security prison, where Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is waiting for the opportunity to avenge the death of his family at the hands of Ronan.
Such a simple plot, amirite???
No, seriously, director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman map it out so well that the story unfolds easily and with plenty of laughs along the way. Each Guardian is funny--Starlord is earnest, often exasperated by events, super attached to his Walkman, and "not 100% a dick," in his own words; Rocket is very angry at life and expresses it through nonstop sarcasm; Groot is...special; and Drax takes everything literally ("Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are very fast. I would catch it."). Gamora is mostly serious, but she does get one or two one-liners that will make any non-child member of the audience die laughing.
Apart from the dialogue, the action scenes are impressive, as expected of a superhero movie. There's plenty of hand-to-hand combat and flying-through-space scenes, and the CGI blends seamlessly with the real actors and sets. Only Thanos sticks out as a purely digital effort, which is odd because Groot and Rocket don't. I think it's because both Groot and Rocket were realized through a combination of voice acting, on-set acting, and motion-capture. Details here.
As for the villain, Ronan the Accuser is a bad mofo, although his entire character is basically "crazy guy who hates Xandar." FYI, Xandar is a planet ruled by Glenn Close, so not a bad place? But Ronan is all, "Cleanse it!" blah blah anger. The important thing is, he looks cool, sounds intimidating as hell, and doesn't do anything too stupid, apart from the mandatory monologuing.
TL;DR: Get your butt in the theater right now. Worth watching in 3D.
This post brought to you by a fried chicken sandwich with avocado!