The picture above did not really capture the situation correctly, but it was taken inside the Melbourne IMAX cinema the other night as I sat waiting to watch a short, 17 minute preview of the next Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy. I had the good fortune to win a double pass to this event, and I was very excited as Guardians of the Galaxy has looked to be a very different type of film compared to the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And once the short teaser had concluded, I was presented with some very good news: there are no restrictions on what I can and cannot tell you from what I saw! I promise to do my utmost not to mention any huge plot points, although I doubt I could even if I wanted to as the section of the film that was shown contained little of the film’s overall story and was more an action sequence. Regardless, I will place a SPOILER WARNING here just the same given what I am about to write is related to a film that has not yet been released.
The section began with the five lead characters, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), being sent to a jail in deep space. The reasons for their incarceration were not established, although they did all have a long list of prior crimes attached to their names. Once inside, the five of them hatch a plan to escape their confinements before the rest of the prisoners kill them as Gamora is apparently associated with someone who is responsible for many of the other inmates imprisonments. The five of them hatch a plan, carry it out in a blaze of glory and that was it.
Hey, I said it was short! But there was a lot for me to think about in that 17 minutes…
I said at the beginning of this post that I was very excited to see this preview but I must admit that I was also a little cautious. In the lead up to Guardians, I have been both curious and worried about whether characters such as a sentient tree and a gun-wielding, cyborg raccoon would come across as engaging or ridiculously stupid. Could I take them seriously? I didn’t know but I was very keen to find out. Also, the Marvel films have always been pretty well rooted on Earth (with the Thor films featuring other planets now and then) so I had no idea if a superhero movie set in space would work as the others have. Having said that though, I have always believed anything with an additional “set in space” attached on the end is usually a guaranteed improvement!
And what an improvement it was! I was very impressed with what I saw of Guardians. While I won’t call it a guaranteed hit just yet as I only saw one section out of context (and possibly edited too as it did feel a bit rushed) I will say that it is shaping up to be something very good. And I guess the first reason would be because it isn’t a superhero movie. It is just a science fiction adventure.
There were a few little tidbits of information connecting the film to the Marvel Universe as a whole (suffice to say, “Thanos” was mentioned!), the action was impressive and gripping. And as for taking the living tree Groot and maniac raccoon Rocket seriously? They were actually my two favourite characters! Groot is a large, simple creature whose vocabulary consists solely of “I am Groot” and wields his tree trunk limbs as formidable weapons. He reminded me a lot of Hodor from Game of Thrones; a gentle giant who means well but is capable of dealing out the pain when he is needed to. The way he garnered my sympathies so quickly when the action really heated up I think is a testament of good things to come in the final film.
As for Rocket, I am a little lost for words. I don’t know quite how the film did it, but it somehow made the fact that Rocket is a sarcastic, witty, rage filled, criminal and, most importantly, TALKING raccoon not seem really strange. He may be small, and he is most definitely more about the brains rather than the brawn when it comes to his partnership with Groot, but he never comes across as weak. And he was also quite humourous when he wanted to be.
The rest of the characters were all very interesting as well, I am very keen to see more of them. Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill (aka “Star-Lord”) was very much the comic relief of the lot, but Pratt has also managed to shed his goofball persona of previous roles. He’s packed on a bit of muscle and presents himself as someone who is tough, if maybe a little over confident. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is one huge mystery as far as I’m concerned, but I’m sure fans of the comics will probably know all the answers to my questions. She is cold and out to betray the person everyone hates her for being associated with, so I think she might be the big link to this film’s “big bad”.
And lastly, there is Dave Bautista’s Drax. I must say, I’m not won over by him yet. He intially comes across as a brute due to his insane strength and ferocity, but then he speaks like he stepped out of a Shakespeare audition. I can see what the filmmakers are going for with the difference between his speaking manner and his physicality, but right now I don’t think it works as well as they would like. That’s not to say it’s awful, not at all, he just felt to me to be the weakest of the five.
But overall, Guardians is shaping up to be something awesome. If the 17 minutes I saw is an accurate representation of the style and tone of the entire picture then I think Guardians might be one of the best films of Marvel’s “Phase 2” (though The Winter Soldier was pretty good!). It was colourful, action packed, with a really witty sense of humour and a real sense of something darker lurking underneath. There was a sinister side to Rocket’s origins that was hinted at that I am intrigued by, as well as Peter Quill’s pride of his “Earthly” possessions. These moments of seriousness were hidden inside some really dry humour, and they worked together nicely.
If I had to put my opinion on the preview of Guardians of the Galaxy into a few sentences (as they were asking some people to do at the event) I would have to say this: Guardians seems to have the perfect combination of Star Wars and Firefly along with a weapons-toting raccoon. I’m in. Can’t wait for August 7.
See you next time!
Want to see/hear more of Tom’s antics that may or may not involve raccoons? Only way to know for sure is to read some of his other works on his Digital CV and to listen to Unnatural Selection, a comedy podcast which will please your ears!
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