Guardians of the Galaxy IMAX poster

The marketing campaign for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is on a roll. More TV spots are popping up, as are cabtop ads in New York City.

With the announcement last week at the end of the “30 Days of Guardians” Facebook contest that there would be exclusive IMAX 3D previews across the States, fans leaped at the chance to see about a sixth of the film (as James Gunn mentioned in a Twitter reply on the 4th that the now-locked run-time is 121 minutes), including Will and myself.

While Will hit up (coincidentally) the same IMAX theater as Germain of Slashfilm, I made it to one of the New York City screenings – the Times Square AMC, which, even if it wasn’t true IMAX, still packed a wallop. The theater was nearly packed, apart from the front-most rows and a few scattered single seats here and there – a good sign, as the screening was overbooked to start. As 7 PM rolled around, the lights came up, a woman (most likely from Marvel’s PR division) gave a quick introduction (including a repeated request to turn phones off), and the theater went dark as the preview commenced.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - Groot and Rocket

The preview didn’t slowly ease audiences in – it tossed them right into the brig. Well, it tossed them into the brig (the Kyln) after running through the Nova Corps rap sheets on the band of misfits. From there on out, Bradley Cooper stole the show as the voice of Rocket and Vin Diesel was equally solid as the voice of Groot. The quintet was spot-on, at least with my familiarity of the 2008 Abnett and Lanning series (which serves as the overall source material) and Bendis’ current run, as Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a walking pop culture guide, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a baddie looking for a little redemption, Drax (Dave Bautista) is a Vulcan-like muscle-bound maniac, Rocket is a tortured experiment with a love for all things that go “BOOM” and “BLAM”, and Groot … well, Groot is Groot. After the Kyln sequence (which had some excellent comedic moments – including a background/foreground contrast and two perfectly timed cutaways) calms down, we were treated to a 2-and-a-half-minute sizzle reel, which included a good mix of new snippets and extended trailer moments – foremost being brief glimpses of Yondu (Michael Rooker), Ronan (Lee Pace), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), and The Collector (Benicio del Toro). Luckily for everyone who couldn’t make it to the previews, Fandago has kindly provided the sizzle reel (albeit with a slight alteration or two towards before the title card).

Needless to say, the audience – whether they were fans of the comics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or had no idea what to expect going in – was very pleased. While I wasn’t too keen on the IMAX 3D conversions, I was pleasantly surprised with how the depth was conveyed during the Kyln sequence. There wasn’t much happening outside of the window, as the action was restricted to the screen, which I was fine with. It was a subtle 3D, and the IMAX aspect helped to sell the immersive nature of the conversions. If I wasn’t already looking forward to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m now looking forward to it ten, nay, 100-fold – but on principle, I just might stick with 2D over 3D and/or IMAX 3D.

Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters in the US on August 1st, the UK on July 31st, and most of the world by the end of August.