Directed by James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Michael Rooker
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2″ is a fun, action-comedy, romp that I will probably never have interest in watching again.
It’s a passably enjoyable action movie blockbuster that most fans and movie goers looking for cheap escapism will enjoy but it’s also infuriatingly ordinary and at times downright hollow which will frustrate other viewers points finger at self.
(Deal with it…)
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the story of Peter Quill, aka Starlord, and his misfit band of friends Drax, Rocket, Gamora and now Baby Groot. After a job on the planet Sovereign goes wrong when Rocket steals some valuable batteries, the Guardians find themselves fleeing for their lives from their pissed clients. The Guardians are saved, however, when a mysterious figure annihilates the Sovereign’s attacks drones and upon crash landing on a nearby planet reveals himself to be Peter’s father named Ego a Celestial God-like being who takes the form of a planet. Ego wants to share his history and teach Peter the ways of his powers but it soon becomes clear that he has ulterior motives in mind.
(”Mwhahahaha!…ummm I’m not evil…”)
“Guardians Vol. 2” is much like the rest of the MCU in that it follows the safe, familiar, blockbuster blueprint that has made the franchise so successful.
Its fun, humorous and action packed, rarely doing anything risky; its part of what makes the franchise such a consistent box office draw (even if it doesn’t always rise above the average).
Chris Pratt is again charming as the wise-cracking Peter Quill (aka Chris Pratt playing himself), Dave Bautista continues to be a delightful moron in Drax, Bradley Cooper delivers some of the films best one-liners and Michael Rooker (the surprise hit of the movie) expands on his role from the previous film in Yondu, adding a new layer of depth to the character.
The film does take some time to develop more of the interpersonal relationships of its characters this time around, showing that Quill’s found family can be just as dysfunctional as any other ala the Fast and Furious model of story-telling.
(You said it Groot.)
The action is still fun (albeit a little more clunky this time around), with plenty of laser blasts and explosions to boot and the practical affects makeup of some of the aliens and androids of the Guardians universe are both delightfully old school and marvelously original.
The problem is “Vol. 2” feels like it doesn’t trust its audience’s attention span as much this time around, doubling down on quips and at times going full cheese.
Part of the MCU’s success is its light-hearted approach to super heroes, avoiding the grim dark of the DCEU and having a strong self-awareness of its source material. The problem is, especially with this movie, is that director James Gunn appears to lace every scene with a punchline. Sure there are some truly laugh out loud moments in this movie, and the humor is part of this series’ charm but the film loses tension because of this and rarely has any moments of true suspense or emotional depth. When every single scene is used for comic relief it’s hard to take a movie seriously and it’s a real problem with “Vol. 2.” We don’t need moments of levity in EVERY SINGLE scene in the movie, Mr. Gunn.
Scenes that feel like they call for real dramatic sincerity are punctuated with often drab jokes for cheap laughs (dick humor a plenty in this one). It sometimes works but mostly it doesn’t.
(Hey, lets have an obscure celebrity cameo after a huge tragic reveal for a cheap gag! That’s a good idea!)
You might say “well, the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is light-hearted and full of humor, what’s the problem?” Well, even the first movie allows for moments of true drama and genuine emotion. Between Quill’s mother dying, Rocket talking about the horrible experiments he was subjected to, Groot’s ultimate sacrifice and Quill sharing a solemn moment with the memory of his mother through the mix tape she left behind for him, the first “Guardians” film is by comparison a much more emotionally weighted film (not a drama by any stretch of course) and provides a stronger balance between the humor and the more serious items of the story.
There isn’t many scenes like this in this sequel; sure they do talk about some difficult subjects between Gamora and Nebula’s childhood, Yondu reflecting on the bad choices he’s made and Drax looking back on the family he lost but these kinds of scenes are few and are far between. Did Gunn really think his audience couldn’t go a few minutes without hearing a dick joke or a site gag?
(Don’t give me that face, movie! You’re still grounded!)
“Vol. 2” also continues the troublesome MCU trend of forgettable movie bad guys (key word “movie” for you Netflix MCU fans btw). Kurt Russell, even with all his obvious charm and charisma, feels like filler in this movie, doing nothing truly memorable, providing more of a guest star appearance rather than creating anything iconic like the Heath Ledgers, Michael Fassbenders or hell even Wilem Dafoes of the comic book movie world.
In fact he spends most of the film going through long, boring bits of expository dialogue before the obvious heel turn comes and he only becomes less interesting once the evil part kicks in. The CGI ends up doing the rest of the work in the third act too.
It would’ve been nice to see a Marvel villain not named Loki, Zemo or Thanos, last beyond one film for a change but hey the MCU has clearly not put an emphasis on developing their cinematic baddies, so what are you going to do?
(What do you think the over/under is on Vulture and Hela lasting beyond their respective movies this year?…)
Despite these many issues, it must be said that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is not a waste of time at the movies and certainly not the worst film of the year by any stretch. It kickoffs the summer movie blockbuster season with a heaping helping of escapism that movie viewers looking for two hours to kill with their friends away from the harsh reality of life will probably enjoy. If all you’re looking for is some cheap fun for two hours with some friends, there are definitely worst things to be had.
But “Vol. 2” does little to distinguish itself above the ordinary and feels more like a foot note in the MCU’s now 9 year run in theaters and that is perhaps this film’s greatest sin.
It’s perhaps worse than bad. It’s forgettable.
3 out of 5
All things considered, this could’ve been worse. Could’ve been directed by Zack Snyder =D…
Side note: HYPE