Monday, May 01, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


It’s a team of a-holes now instead of the individuals in Vol. 1.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back in another music filled adventure – that’s not a musical – to save the galaxy. Vol. 2 is more fun and surprisingly more sentimental than the first ride out. Everyone’s got personal issues. At some points I thought the sentimentally will be too much but it never did go overboard.

What saved the movie was the abundant, and now perfectly timed, points of levity. I don’t remember having burst into laughter in the last one but I did in this one, and at many different times. More important than the laughter is that I lost laser focus – but never forgot – on just how many characters have similar issues that they should just start a support group. In other words I took their issues less seriously.

We remember Vol. 1 with Star-Lord's (Chris Pratt) mommy hang-ups.  If only he knew the tree monster in that other movie then maybe he could have spoken more meaningfully before she died. His regret of not holding her hand was actually the most humanly fulfilling aspect of Vol. 1.  Besides the fact that it had helped him survived an Infinity Stone it also helped him regain what was lost: a family. It was all about the reaching.

In Vol. 2 with the set-up of surviving an Infinity Stone (because he shouldn’t be able to) and the publicized casting of Kurt Russell the story went into daddy hang-ups mode. Mommy was about unexpressed goodbyes, so Daddy naturally was about: ‘where the hell were you?’

Of course being the leader of the group I naturally thought he’d take up most of the emotional space – one team member falters the rest pick up the slack - which he did, but soon Gamora (Zoe Zaldana) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) followed with almost similar issues. I worried about loss of focus. Everyone’s climbing on the family hang-ups bandwagon now; do I really have to watch everybody?

Thankfully the Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better teams comic book movies today. I say this because it doesn’t feel like every character is obligated to get screen time which I always thought of the first Avengers movie. Roles are distinct; hierarchies in terms of the characters in the story are recognizable. 

Case in point Gamora’s issues didn’t hamper the story’s focus on Star-Lord’s; complimented it actually. Rocket’s was all business too until his “mask” was taken off in the end to reveal a sensitive side.

Getting my mind off of them were Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis.  They are the most fun in the movie. Drax was not that good a fit with the love-hate comedy routine the team does so much like the ‘who’s got tape’ in the trailers. He’s a better fit now with Mantis (Pom Klementieff). To use a wrestling term which Bautista is, Drax and Mantis are the perfect tag team. The two are enjoyable.

The ending I find really sweet and as good as that mix Star-Lord’s mother gave is an homage to a quote by Richard Bach: “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” Ending that way felt like – ok, sentimentality is good.

What didn’t work for me is the plot. It’s not bad it’s just that I keep relating it to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe which of course will culminate in a movie against Thanos. In that light it feels like nothing’s added. Maybe if there was and I missed it then at best there will be passing reference to it in a Netflix series or Agent’s of SHIELD.

Avengers Infinity War is slated for May of next year; Spider-man and Thor are this year; still feels like something’s missing – this is from the point of view of someone who has Infinity Gauntlet as the only comics I have left since childhood.

Marvel has made statements recently that it was their intent to lessen the overlap because the story might not call for it. 

I think for Guardians of the Galaxy the story does call for it. In fact the leader of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline in the comics has yet to be seen; he seems slated for a Guardians 3. Then again could it be a brief appearance in Infinity War? Will he or won’t he be used in Infinity War?

At present I don’t see that the Avengers MCU line-up, as is, has enough intelligence – much less brawn – on Thanos. Remember MCU cannot use Silver Surfer or Galactus. Doctor Strange is still green around the ears so how much help can he muster. He’s slated to guest in Thor so that’s worth watching. The last two movies before the War should overlap definitely because it’s a buildup. Then again it will come in 2 parts so I guess the Avengers will have their ass kicked next year.

Sorry I digress. I venturing too much outside the movie now but I can’t contain my excitement.

Back to regular programming I think James Gunn has done a terrific job for Guardians of the Galaxy. For Vol. 2 he has stayed loyal to his theme of family – in the widest sense – and spread it all around. Every character has something to add to it whether actual issues or that he was simply lonely. 

It’s what makes the characters lovable, like a family. Do I think the same way of the Avengers – honestly no.

To conclude I liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for its fun – the comedy – and yes the sentimentality too.  It all works.