On Monday, Marvel Studios and director James Gunn released a 17-minute first look at their new film, Guardians of the Galaxy. Viewers were also treated to an exclusive first look poster. The preview, a one time limited release for select markets, offered audiences a chance to meet each of the “Guardians”, showing off a scene in which each had a chance to show off what they could do and expanding on a scene introduced in the trailer. The viewing also gave attendees a chance to jump into the 3-D atmosphere, which Gunn has promised to be “spectacular and immersive.” The preview delivered on those promises.
The demonstration shown takes place in a prison somewhere far from Earth. The scene gives a brief setup of the environment of Guardians of the Galaxy, demonstrating how little regard the men in charge have for inmates, and how the inmates themselves have even less regard for each other. Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, is quickly shown to be at the same time helpless and brave, confronting a guard to retrieve his music player as the scene seamlessly transitions the sounds of Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling from the background of Quill’s headphones to the booming IMAX system. For his trouble, Quill is electrocuted repeatedly before the team is given their bright yellow prison jumpsuits and sent to meet their fellow prisoners. The rest of the preview involves a plot to escape the prison, with each member of the team being given a task that shows off their skills and personality.
Plans for escape begin almost the moment the group enters the detainment center. While not quite the Guardians just yet, the group consists of Quill, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana). Rocket offers a plan for escape, footnoted with the fact that he has escaped from prisons dozens of times before. As the trio of Rocket, Gamora, and Quill carefully lay out a plan, Groot sets off an alarm with an overzealous attempt to help.
In the following several minutes are an incredible series of action set pieces demonstrating smooth, vivid CGI in Rocket and Groot, and extraordinary makeup work done on Gamora and the eventually introduced Drax (played by Dave Bautista). The prison, populated by humans and aliens alike, is incredibly vivid. Gunn is able to convey at the same time a bright, visually engaging setting and a dour, dangerous one. The scenery and characters are both apt for a film taking place in space, both beautiful and dangerous.
The most outstanding asset of the first look was how fantastic the comedic elements were. As a Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun action movie first and foremost, but every scene shown off was punctuated by a well set-up punch line. The most outstanding joke comes at the expense of Quill at the conclusion a riot that breaks out as the Guardians attempt to escape. The trailers and advertisements that have been previously released do a good job of conveying the tone of the film. It will without a doubt be driven on the strength of the characters and their direction by Gunn. The creative Gunn has a knack for using comedy and absurdity to help convey his films’ commentary, as he did in his last film, Super. During the brief look, with material that has the potential to be goofy, Gunn appears to have struck the right balance, never taking things too seriously but still paying proper respect to his characters.
While the preview was able to avoid spoiling much of the movie’s main plot, it did a fine job of showing off what should be its strongest elements. Pratt and Saldana are rising stars, and the team as a whole demonstrates sparkling chemistry as the members become dependent on one another. The audience was wowed, offering positive comments after the preview. Hype will continue to build for a few more weeks, as Guardians of the Galaxy is schedule to be released in the United States on Aug. 1.
Opinion by Brian Moore