After viewing 17 minutes of new footage Monday evening from "Guardians of the Galaxy" in IMAX 3D, it's now clear that Marvel has fashioned the ultimate "Star Wars" riff. The '70s sci-fi grunge, the rag-tag underdogs, the sarcastic chemistry, the serial action and the improbable success are wrapped around the "Hooked on a Feeling" anthem. Judging from the enthusiastic response at the TCL Chinese, director James Gunn pushed all the right buttons and Disney/Marvel should have a late summer hit.
The centerpiece of the footage revolves around the gigantic intergalactic space prison, Kyln, and the Guardians having to band together to pull off a wildly entertaining escape. There’s the orb stealing, obnoxious Star-Lord Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the loud mouth Rocket raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper laying on the thick New York accent), the tree-like humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel, who keeps repeating "I am Groot"), the badass and cerebral Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the revenge-driven, not too bright Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). Rocket's the brains and quickly engages in a power struggle with Quill, but he bonds with the surprisingly powerful Groot, who acts as his bodyguard/buffer, and everyone falls in line.
You get the feeling that you've seen it all before -- and yet you haven't, which is the perfect way to approach this obscure, low-rent Marvel property that's appropriately more self-mocking than "The Avengers." Despite the grunge, the look of "Guardians" (opening August 1) is warm and colorful, the VFX space hardware and Rocket's animation are stellar, and the IMAX 3-D offers terrific depth and dimension (Drax's tatts really stand out).
The footage ended with a delightful clip introducing Michael Rooker ("The Walking Dead") as the mysterious, blue-skinned Yondu, and playful bickering about Quill's partial plan while Groot eats himself, underscored by The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb." This extended look can be viewed courtesy of Fandango, which is also launching a sweepstakes to win two Marvel props (the stunt "Stealth" Shield" from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and the SHIELD license plate from "The Avengers"). The contest runs July 7-August 4 by purchasing Fandango tickets or via Fandango's apps.