Guardians of the Galaxy, filmed by Secret Cinema, went into ir

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(Pocket-lint) – Secret Cinema is not on its first try. From humble beginnings, the list of franchises the titan of immersive events has worked with continues to grow.

Having already conquered the Star Wars universe and tied up with Netflix through Stranger Things, his latest show in London brings Marvel into the dance. We went to Guardians of the Galaxy: The Live Immersive Experience (its full, verbose title) to get a feel for how this partnership has evolved.


A whole new world

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Secret Cinema offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a recreation of part of a fictional world. Previously, it was about walking around Mos Eisley from Star Wars or Los Angeles from Blade Runner, seeing the sights and interacting with costumed actors.

In this case, a few locations familiar to Guardians of the Galaxy fans are open to explore, all located in an industrial area near Wembley.

It’s all indoors, but that hasn’t stopped the Secret Cinema team from creating some impressive otherworldly vistas, from the space snow of Contraxia to the glowing underground city of Nowhere.

There’s fun signage everywhere and plenty of entertaining nooks and crannies to explore if you’re dedicated enough to sniff out all the possible leads.

Having said that, the universe cannot be said to live up to Secret Cinema’s work with, for example, Star Wars or Blade Runner – and this could easily be because the cinematic world Guardians occupies, despite its popularity, is a little less vibrant compared to .

Still, even with that caveat, you’ll find it a very interesting place to spend a few hours, thanks to a still enthusiastic cast of actors.


Secret Cinema has clearly understood that the best way to engage an entire audience in the story of their world is to give them a central reason to gather around.

This time it’s about Ravager’s pirate clans, of which the participants are all a part, uniting against the infamous Collector. This “us versus the system” scheme isn’t particularly new at this point, but it works, so why fix it?

As always, the agenda for the evening is to chat with anyone wearing a costume good enough to probably be an actor to find out what’s going on and what action you can get in on.

Within hours, our group helped rescue and smuggle a kidnap victim, negotiated a deal for valuable contraband, uncovered a secret message from Rocket himself, and still found time to enjoy some peace away from the pressures of the main story.

The best Secret Cinema experiences leave you wondering what was in that curtained room you didn’t go into or the staircase you couldn’t climb, and Guardians of the Galaxy has that “I’d love to do this again to see what would be different” feeling. That’s what we come to the movies for, folks.

That said, the story itself isn’t exactly Pulitzer quality, and things got a little muddled when it came to getting into the main story moments. While these are nicely choreographed, they get a bit chaotic when everyone is busy watching, which is hard to avoid.

Things end on a high note with a big scene where the Guardians do Guardian things, although we were a little disappointed to see Rocket and Groot on the sidelines – finding a way to embody their characters using practical effects.

The staging nevertheless remains exciting on several occasions, with details such as Yondu’s fluted Yaka Arrow shining in their truth.

To see or not to see

After experimenting with shorter Stranger Things experiences that avoid the “sit down to watch a movie” part of its formula, Secret Cinema turned it into an extra for Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you pay full price, you get into a screening room to see the second film with some really solid immersive lighting effects, or you can choose to join the immersive experience and then leave.

We think that would be a mistake, all things considered: being able to sit back and see the world you’ve explored in all its detail is a great way to reinforce what you’ve done during your stay, and also a good way to loosen up.

Once again, though, we’re a bit disappointed by the lack of immersive extras, beyond some cool lighting. It seems that the days of actors acting out important moments or battles are over and while some may have found these moments silly, we loved them.

This means that the film feels more detached from the experience, which may be part of the goal, but it detracts from the quirky, fun aspect that the old series offered.

Yet even as it grows, there is still a unique chemistry at play when you truly commit to an evening with Secret Cinema. It’s like playing Dungeons & Dragons with a setting, cast and an entire team to aid your exploits, and it’s just as fun as it sounds.

Written by Max Freeman-Mills.

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