Here's a breakdown of the 17-minute Guardians of the Galaxy preview!
Last month, Marvel let us know that they were teaming up with IMAX theaters to bring audiences a 17-minute sneak peak into GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Given that I'm not fluent with the comic or any of the stories of these new characters, I was frothing at the mouth to get more of this "gang of thieves", if you will. What follows will be my thoughts and impressions of the footage shown. While these are mild spoilers at best, for those of you trying to avoid story details at all costs, you can jump down to the final two paragraphs for some spoiler-free impressions. For the rest of you, read on!
Mild spoilers ahead!
The IMAX event opened with an intro with director James Gunn, who went on to comment that the following footage has been optimized for IMAX theaters and to enjoy the show. Roger that, Mr. Gunn!
The footage starts off with the now familiar USUAL SUSPECTS opening, in which John C. Reilly's Rhomann Dey reads off the names of our arrested heroes, and gives us a little bit of information about each. It's almost beat for beat the trailer, until we reach Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and we're given a little more information on her connection to Thanos, as well as her supposed allegiance with Ronan the Accuser. Then we come to Chris Pratt's Peter Quill (he's not referred to as Star Lord in this preview), who just can't seem to figure out how that "middle finger machine" works (there is no box blocking the goods).
Next, we move to our gang being taken to The Kyln, an intergalactic prison located at the edge of the universe. Interestingly enough, the Marvel Universe Wiki describes The Kyln as a place "where criminals and miscreants from across the universe too powerful to be held elsewhere are taken." Rocket and Quill exchange some abrasive words, while Groot chimes in the only way he can ("I am Groot"), much to Quill's dismay. It's at this point Rocket is told he IS a raccoon, and claims "that there's no one like me, but me"! Quill passes by a security officer who starts playing his mix tape, at which point he takes great offense, and marches into the evidence room, demanding that the guard put his tape away.
This marks the first great character moment of the footage shown, and surprisingly, there were several in this preview. As we know, this mix tape is all Quill has from when he was taken from Earth; it's his last remaining connection to his roots. The officer wastes no time pulling out a "space cattle prod" and shocking him into the ground. Blue Swede's "Hooked On a Feeling" fills the sound spectrum as we pan away from Quill's seemingly needless torture, to him getting deloused by an orange liquid. He's forced into a cell where four drones have their guns drawn on him, demanding his cooperation (that would be the shot in the trailer where he's shirtless with a reddish- hue). He's shortly joined by Rocket, whose cybernetic enhancements located on his back grab Quill's attention.
Next we're taken to the main "courtyard" area, where a security tower looms in the middle, watching the prisoners. The disdain from the other inmates is made apparent, as none of them seem to be a fan of Gamora and her connection to Thanos. This is about the time a blue alien, having a few feet on Quill, starts some trouble. Groot steps into play, shoving his branches into his nose, and in a wince-inducing moment, you can hear what sounds like the branches growing within. Rocket takes it upon himself to announce that "Quill is his booty, and rather than someone having to go through them, Groot will be happy to do so."
At a nearby table, Rocket outlines a plan of escape, starting with the removal of a battery at the base of the security tower. As Rocket, Gamora and Peter start to outline the plans, Groot innocently makes his way to the very battery discussed earlier, and removes it. It's a great scene to show Groot's very simple nature, and our heroes spring into action shortly after. Drones are dispatched, demanding Groot's cooperation. As you can imagine, he does not comply, thus prompting them to open fire. Splints of wood fly about the place as Groot forms somewhat of a "branch shield" with his right hand, blocking the flurry. Rocket jumps to his shoulder, despite not having anything to fight back with.
This is where we get our first look at Drax, and he observes the crew and what they're doing, as well as the guards getting into position, ready to fire on Rocket and Groot. Drax immediately jumps into play, overpowering the guards and laughing maniacally as he does so. He loves this. He's been waiting for this opportunity and you get immediately just how nuts this guy is. Incapacitating some guards, he throws a gun to Rocket who exclaims "Oh yeah," before opening fire. The war cries of Rocket and Groot during this berserker moment was such a great "f*ck yeah" moment. I absolutely loved it. It got that adrenalin pumping.
During this action, Gamora displays some of her acrobatic finesse, while Quill has his own super important task given to him by Rocket involving a leg (I won't spoil that endgame for you). Groot finally extends himself to the top of the tower, where the gang climbs up. Once Groot makes it there, the door opens to the center room, revealing one very scared guard. This is our first hero shot of the guardians, and an epic fanfare takes hold. Groot wastes no time throwing the guard out, as the ever popular Willhelm scream is emanated from the poor sap's vocal folds.
Rocket, displaying some technical wizardry, disables the artificial gravity in the prison (with the exception of the room they're in) and orders the drones to attach themselves to the top of the tower, thus flying it out as if it were a ship.
This ended the preview, and what followed is footage very similar to the trailers we've seen so far. Glimpses of Quill in his Star Lord getup, as well as him giving his two cents on why the universe is worth saving. We also get a bit of an extension on Rocket's "fake laugh" as Quill explains that he has "part of a plan." A few more quick glimpses of our villains, and what appears to be Ronan bowing down before Thanos on a throne (who was facing another direction). The clips end with some reckless flying on behalf of Rocket, as well as flying directly into the camera. Cue title card: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
End of mild spoilers.
While it's hard to judge from just 17 minutes (and what scenes were omitted), the pacing of what was shown was fantastic. Of all the guardians, Rocket was the centerpiece of this footage. I guarantee you it will take all of 30 seconds to forget that he's voiced by Bradley Cooper. In every scene he was in, I couldn't take my eyes off the little guy. Several times he grimaces in (dare I say) the cutest fashion. People are going to love this character. The vibe is very much in line with what you get in trailers, and that's what I really enjoyed. Each character bounced off the next in entertaining fashion, and I just wanted more of them. Drax feels like someone ripped out LORD OF THE RINGS and thrown into a sci-fi universe. He worked so much better within the context of the crew than I thought he would. Quill and Gamora were the more mysterious of the two, and I imagine they will have some intimate moments to deliver some drama.
The 3D conversion was acceptable, showcasing some nice depth, although given the IMAX format, I would definitely get there early to score some good seats. When all is said and done, the audience applauded over the small glimpse that we've got. I'm happy to see people are hungry for something a little bit "out there" from Marvel, and while a lot of films this summer seem to be taking themselves a little too seriously, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY may be the perfect, summer entertainment we've all been waiting for.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY hits theaters on August 1, 2014.
And check out a new extended trailer below!