Seeing a film at the cinema is often a contained experience - you'll go with one or two other people, silently praying that no one else in the theatre makes a noise for the next three hours, arrive just in time then leave straight away afterwards, casually asking the opinion of your companions as you leave to see if the cramp in your butt was worth it.
This was not the case for the cast and crew screening of Guardians of the Galaxy. Shown at the same Odeon in Leicester Square where fancy celebrity premières are held, I was lucky enough to experience watching Marvel's galactic super hero epic surrounded by the artists and crew that made the film possible, and it was completely different to an average cinema viewing. We arrived over an hour before the film began and as the seats quickly began to fill, and there was a buzzing atmosphere in the room. It was the anticipation, the feeling of a few hundred people willing the film to be good, the excitement of seeing their work up on the big screen, and I think it's fair to say they can all breath a sigh of relief - because Guardians is incredible.
Not one of the most well known of superhero teams, the Guardians of the Galaxy are one of Marvels most popular comics, featuring a team of outlaws, renegades and assassins, thrown together to fight evil throughout the corners of the universe. And yes, one of them's a gun toting talking raccoon and one of them's a walking tree.
Guardians takes a few notes from the Avengers film - a great team dynamic, a powerful threat, tonnes of all out action and a very healthy dose of humour - combines them together and takes them to the far reaches of space in what ends up being an extremely funny, heartfelt, and very entertaining film. Although all the cast are great, it's Rocket and Groot who quickly stand out, being so charming and believable throughout, and it's a testament to the hard work of our friends at MPC and Framestore that the two totally VFX characters become the heart of the film. It's not just the characters though - every shot is visually stunning, resulting in probably the best looking film I've seen in years.
My friend (and escapee) Allyn Lawson who worked on the project had this to say about being involved...
"Guardians of the Galaxy was an amazing show to be part of, there's been a real buzz and excitement around it since we began and having seen the finished film, we were all really thrilled with how it turned out. Having worked a lot on Groot and Rocket, it was great to see two fully CG main characters perfectly hold their own amongst an incredible (live action) ensemble cast, and ultimately steal the show!"
As the film drew to a close, thunderous applause erupted throughout the room. This was months, or for some people, years of long hours and hard work on one of the most anticipated films of 2014, and everyone who helped make it in any way, shape or form should be proud of themselves, because as both a comic book and film fan, Guardians exceeded my expectations in every way. And it was so encouraging to talk to the artists afterwards and find out that they enjoyed the film just as much as me.
Guardians was is a truly great film, and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to see it with the hard working men and women who made it possible. Thank you all so much - can't wait for the sequel!