Marvel Series 2 is well underway. We have seen Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier continue the success of The Avengers and grow to surpass the quality of of their initial run. Marvel is now vastly ahead of their counterparts at Warner Bros and their DC comics license. It should be noted that all of their wins have come without The X-Men, Spiderman and The Fantastic Four, while WB flounders holding the rights to all of the DC properties. Now as a Disney company Marvel Studios is taking its biggest gamble. They are placing their faith in a summer blockbuster for a series of superheroes that are unknown to all but the most devout of comic book fans. The windfall for Disney is that a successful Guardians of the Galaxy film expands the Marvel Film universe exponentially. Will it be worth the effort?
The first look event was held in theatres all over the United States at 7pm on July 7th, 2014. We were told we would see 17 minutes of the film and that the footage would be new. We didn’t know if it would be like Avatar Day, which featured scenes from all over the film, essentially ruining the minimal plot or something like the before credits sequence of The Dark Knight Rises, which was short but much more helpful as a showcase to excite audiences over the film. What we saw was about 14 minutes of a scene from the early portion of the film and then an extended “trailer” of scenes from throughout the film. They picked a sequence that was action packed, fun, and so good I still want to see it again in August. It also felt like it had elements from the rest of the plot but didn’t give away too many key points.
So in my spoiler free assessment it was a fantastic piece of the film for them to show. It thoroughly features all of our heroes: Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot The Tree Man (Vin Diesel), Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). Everyone is given time to shine, everyone is amazing and everyone found their tone and the flick works.
The screening began with an introduction from director James Gunn (Slither, Super). He thanked everyone for attending and explained that all of the sequences we were to see in IMAX 3D were remastered for the best possible viewing experience. (Personal Note: I hate 3D but whether shot that way or fixed in post Disney 3D is consistently the best. The sequence we saw was no exception.)
We see the scene from the trailers where we are introduced to each of the main characters as they are being assessed by Rhomann Dhey (John C. Reilly). Rocket is described as a genetically altered lower lifeform. Groot as Rocket’s companion and bodyguard. Drax as a humanoid monster seeking revenge after the death of his family. Gamora as the adopted daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and who was sent to serve as a warrior for Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace). Thus causing Dhey to assess that Thanos and Ronan are working together. Star-Lord is described as mostly a nuisance and he acts as such.
The group are sent to a supermax prison in space called ‘The KYLN’. When they arrive each of them are led down a hallway and Star-Lord sees a guard rummaging through his stuff and finding his walkman. The guard plays the tape inside, which is the song from the trailer, “Hooked on a Feeling”. Star-Lord gets into a fight with the guard telling him that the song is his. After zapping him repeatedly with a stun baton the song continues playing while showing a montage of everyone being sprayed with an alien delousing liquid. After they are cleaned up they put on their prison uniforms and move into General Population.
In Gen Pop the other prisoners throw things at them, presumably due to Gamora’s association with Thanos and Star-Lord is claimed by an alien as property. Rocket in the first of many scene stealing opportunities sets Groot on the alien and the plant enforcer subdues him. Rocket then claims Star-Lord as belonging to Groot and himself and that anyone that gets in their way will be taken care of. All of the prisoners back off and Star-Lord proclaims happily that he’s with them.
At a meeting during lunch Rocket tells everyone that he’s got a plan. He details that he needs a battery from a panel on the guard tower, one of the prisoner’s cybernetic leg and a control panel from the arm of one of the guards. While telling everyone what he needs they assess that getting the battery is the hardest due to its placement. It is very high off the ground and directly attached to where the watch guard is stationed. Star-Lord volunteers to get the leg and Gamora says she can get the control panel. Rocket tells everyone that’s fine, they need to get the battery last because once its detached an alarm will sound making the entire process more difficult. At that moment Groot rips the battery from the panel alerting all the guards to the escape plan.
Gamora runs off to find a guard and Star-Lord tries to find the prisoner with the automated leg. Star-Lord is attacked but Drax decides to help him. Gamora as a warrior fights the panel away from a guard, Star-Lord talks the prisoner out of the leg, Drax fights off any interfering guards and prisoners and Rocket/Groot make their way up to the guard’s control panel. They break into the tower and Rocket attaches the battery and arm panel together then rips into the main control board and attaches them. Star-Lord asks what the leg is for and Rocket tells him it was a joke. He thought it would be funny to watch the guy hop around on one leg. The Guards finally get it together and start to assault the tower. Rocket works furiously and just as the guards use missiles to break through he switches off the gravity in the prison except for the tower. Then he takes over the guard’s robots and uses them to fly the top of the tower away through the prison to the ship dock.
The rest of the trailer features sequences of Ronan The Accuser, The Guardians and tons of fun jokes and action. I don’t want to speculate at everything involved because we only saw quick flashes. The things we did see at length were jokes and I don’t want to ruin them because they had everyone in the theatre laughing. The movie is a hit waiting to happen. It would have to lose a ton of steam, be too long or have its only good sequence be the one we saw for the movie to be a failure. I can’t rate a movie that I haven’t seen, but I can make a recommendation.
My recommendation is see this film. If you’ve got superhero fatigue, this will cure it. If you want an “original” film surprisingly this kind of feels like a fresh film. If you want a fun popcorn movie I think this will be exactly what you want. Marvel is winning the comic book film war. This film is a curveball, that said it has what it needs to succeed. Rocket is a scene stealer. I think we’re going to have people calling for a Rocket/Groot standalone film from what I’ve seen. That said everyone in the theatre left excited. People cheered and clapped and with the exception of one guy no one complained. (Except to say they wanted to see the rest of the flick.)