If anyone needs me, I'll be camping outside my local cinema waiting until I can go and see Guardians Of The Galaxy again. Here's why.
Mild spoilers below. We've marked the paragraph so you can skip it in the review!
The film centres around our hero, Peter Jason Quill (Chris Pratt), also known as Star Lord. He was abducted from Earth in 1988 and has been raised as an outlaw and scavenger in the galaxy. He's tasked with retrieving an orb of mysterious origin, before he's caught by Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who wants the orb for herself. The pair run into Rocket and Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) who want to capture Star Lord to fulfil a bounty contract. The team is eventually caught for causing mischief and thrown into a terrifying galactic prison where they meet Drax (Dave Batista), who wants revenge for the murder of his family by the bad guy, Ronan the Accuser.
All the while, the characters are protecting the orb that so many people want to steal for themselves.
SPOILER ALARM Turns out, the orb everyone's fighting over contains an Infinity Stone, which can give those who wield it the ability to destroy organic worlds with ease. Bad guy Ronan the Accuser wants the orb for his master Thanos, and once the Guardians realise what they have, the race is on to protect the Nova home world from annihilation.
Cue two tight hours of killer action, amazing CGI and hilarious gags.
Guardians Of The Galaxy takes place in the broader Marvel Universe, which is already a pretty convoluted place. The film does a great job laying out the galactic bag of snakes that is ongoing conflict between different races, without really making you think one side or the other is right or wrong.
All we know is that the main villain, Ronan the Accuser, objects to a peace treaty with the Kree and the Nova Corps, and goes on a rampage in the employ of the big baddie, Thanos (who you may remember from the end of The Avengers), who wants to control the universe.
The film scratches the surface of the Earth-616 Marvel Universe timeline by showing off amazing sets like the Guardians' base of Knowhere, the prison facility known as The Kyln, and Star Lord's ship, the Icarus. That really rewards fans for their love of a slightly more obscure comic.
The whole film is a brilliant action/comedy romp, scored with an epic soundtrack and a mixtape of the best '70s hits you've ever listened to. Watching someone fly through space with a jetpack to the Pina Colada Song is something I never thought I'd see.
The timing of jokes is really superb. Even when Drax is about to kill Gamora by strangling her to death in The Kyln prison, the whole audience is in uproarious laughter at a conversation between Star Lord and Drax, who takes everything literally.
My only real criticism of Guardians of the Galaxy is in the pacing at the beginning of the film.
It sort of alienates people who don't know much about the larger Marvel Universe by throwing you straight into the retconned lore of Thanos, Ronan the Accuser and the five Guardians themselves.
Relationships and motivations are pretty hard to understand, for example, when the film gets into Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Sure, they're referenced as the "children" of Thanos but it's never really explained that Gamora is a foster daughter and that Nebula is an "alleged granddaughter" following Thanos' resurrection. The Nebula-Thanos relationship is particularly strained in the film, which isn't well understood if you don't get how the two are connected in the comics. That's just me being a huge nerd though.
The broader Marvel Universe certainly makes sense for filmgoers if you've watched a few post-credit scenes from The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, but some prior knowledge is certainly required to fully enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy.
Even if you're not hardcore into the Marvel Universe, however, the film rewards your patronage with gorgeous action scenes, hilarious dialogue, charming misfits and eye-popping visuals.
It's a big call, but I'm happy to make it: Guardians Of The Galaxy is the best Marvel movie made to date. It has more laughs, more action, more pew-pew and more story than any film before it in the Marvel universe.
Do yourself a favour and go see it.
Guardians Of The Galaxy hits cinemas on August 1.