It seems a bit, well, internet-y, to post a “review” of a seventeen minute preview for a movie that’s coming out in, like, three weeks but since this is the internet why the heck, not. Also I will endear to not give spoilers but just so you know: there is a talking raccoon in this movie.
First of all, it wasn’t, per-say, seventeen minutes of the movie in the expected sense; it was essentially one scene, taking place in the Nova Corps prison followed by an extended trailer and another brief scene. That is all good though because the scenes actually played showcase what I expect (and we all hope) to be the real strength of Guardians – the character dynamic. We get the extended, probably in-film version of the Nova corps line-up which does exposition with a keen visual sense of humor; Groot leaning down into the screen, Rocket barely above the bottom of the screen, Starlord winding up the bird. Gunn’s dialogue is funny and embraces the inherent absurdity of the situation without being winking or distantly ironic. The already beloved “What a bunch of A-holes.” Works for this very reason.
Next is the fleshed out bit where Quill confronts the Kree guard (who looks a lot like that alien creature that agent Coulson found in agents of SHIELD) and gets electro-shocked over “Hooked on a feeling”. The character dynamic is already in full play as Starlord and Rocket bicker over Groot’s catch phrase, what a raccoon is, and just about everything else. It’s the kind of exchange that any experienced movie fan can tell leads to a deep friendship. A meeting of equals that makes the sum greater than its parts. Guardians isn’t a just a buddy movie but you sense that fun and chemistry a great buddy movie has (think the first two lethal weapons or, yes I’ll say it, the first Rush Hour) with Quill and Rocket’s quipping. This is even more impressive when you remember that Rocket is a three foot talking raccoon and isn’t really there which doesn’t affect Chris Pratt’s chemistry with him at all.
The real meat of the pre-view was the prison riot/escape scene which clearly defines each of the guardian’s strengths, crackles with humor (both visual and vocal), is tense and exciting, plus it unleashes such well-constructed mayhem that it puts most other action scenes this year to shame. The sequence runs on a firm (if inherently silly) internal logic and moves with a frantic, exciting pace. That said the scene never sacrifices coherency for motion like some action movies I know (Transformers I’m looking at you). And not a single stylized lens-flare or shaky hand held camera shot in sight!
Gunn has leveled up in talent with this movie and he delivers with big budget on the promise he’s shown with limited budget. The whole scene grabs you and charges forward like the most fun, exhilarating roller coaster ride you’ve been on. And like the coaster, when it’s over you stagger away with a huge smile on your face. Like I promised, no spoilers, but when Rocket (paws down the break out movie character of the year) gets his claws on a gun and has an almost orgasmic growl of “oh yeeeeeeah!” people in the theater applauded. Look, anybody can do explodo in a movie but to get your audience to engage with the characters doing the explodo is where the line is drawn. Gunn is firmly on the right side of that line, in fact he’s so far across it that Michael Bay and his blowin up robots can’t even be seen.
Following that was the extended trailer, you finally get to see a good shot or two of Ronan who looks fresh out of the most extreme Goth club ever. Action shots, space fighters, sword play, planets that look like giant floating cyber-skulls just friggin geek-tastic stuff for a few minutes. And the whole thing was capped by a funny scene where the guardians are talking about a plan (well, 12% of a plan) and once again we get sharp, funny, and character rich dialogue. I wouldn’t call it a quiet scene (there will be no quiet with Rocket involved) but the preview ends showcasing the reason Guardians of the galaxy will keep us enraptured – these are characters you want to hang out with.