Full disclosure – I have absolutely no recollection of ever having read a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY comic book.

Beyond the trailers and some behind the scenes stuff I’ve seen on social media and at the geek centric sites I check out on the regular, I really have no strong understanding of who the characters that make up the title team from this newest entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are. In short – unlike the other Marvel movies where I know the players and consider myself a fan – I am almost completely in the dark when it comes to this one.

Tonight I had the opportunity to check out a 17 minute extended preview of James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in IMAX 3D and I was absolutely blown away.

I’m not going to go into a full description of it except to say that it seemed to mostly be taken from the jail break sequence that is hinted at in the theatrical trailers and the presentation in IMAX is stunning. Seriously. It is absolutely ridiculous how fantastic this movie looks in that immersive high definition format. I am not generally a fan of 3D, but this was really well done and easily the brightest lit 3D I’ve ever seen.

As for the characters themselves:

gotg

Chris Pratt’s Starlord is instantly relatable and genuinely funny in a natural, good natured way – he’s not cocky, but oddly earnest in a way that feels fresh for the genre.

Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the daughter of Thanos looks amazing as usual. They use a sort of ’super soldier” type effect on her during her fight scenes and she sells it easily. She’s a bad ass and manages to wield sarcasm in a way that feels genuine – she reminded me of Carrie Fisher in the first Star Wars movie.

Dave Batista’s Drax is the character I had the least amount of expectations for or for that matter, interest in as the preview started and I have to be honest – he was really very natural and extremely effective- nothing forced about his performance at all – he was actually much more understated than I expected him to be.

Rocket and Groot. Do you remember the first time you saw C3PO and R2D2? The way they instantly just made sense to you? You know what – that’s not a good comparison – they are more like Han Solo and Chewbacca; without knowing anything about them you understand exactly who they are and what their place in that universe is. There is really some pretty inspired voice work by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel here. Rocket and Groot flat out ROCK and I honestly cannot imagine that CGI is going to advance very far past this point. They look amazingly real even though they cannot possibly be.

Groot can grow at will – it’s the damn coolest thing ever! It looks so organic and natural you don’t even question it – not even when the other characters climb up him because, well, he’s a tree – why wouldn’t they? Ha! It’s really very funny – and clever – and just really, really, well done. It’s good. Really good.

The preview footage was only 17 minutes but it was tight – I swear when the lights came up it felt like 30 seconds had passed.

This doesn’t look or feel like any of the other Marvel movies. This is something different. Don’t get me wrong I have really liked all those movies, but I absolutely LOVED what I’ve now seen of this one and I cannot wait for August 1st to see the rest.

I am obviously all hyped up on this flick right now but since the first sneak peek last year at Comic Con it struck me that this was going to be something really special – the kind of thing that doesn’t come around all that often you know?

There are a bunch of people spending a whole lot of time and effort right now over in England spending Disney’s money to break Harrison Ford’s limbs and make some new STAR WARS. After watching this tonight – I don’t think they should bother.  James Gunn may have beat them to it.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY feels like that sort of BIG to me.

August 1st feels like it’s pretty far, far away.

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