Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on Amazon
Written by:  James Gunn (written by), Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (based on the Marvel comics by), Steve Englehart and Steve Gan (Star-lord created by), Jim Starlin (Gamora and Drax created by), Stan Lee & Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby (Groot created by), Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen (Rocket Raccoon created by)
Directed by:
James Gunn
Starring:  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Sylvester Stallone, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh
Rated:PG-13


Plot
The Guardians must fight to keep their family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage, when his a man claiming to be his father appears.

Verdict
This has become the summer blockbuster, no longer is it traditional one man army action movies, it's team effort comic book movies. This boasts impressive visuals, not just the CGI but even shot composition. While it's not quite as fun and irreverent as the first (read my review) due to multiple story lines concerning different aspects of family, it has enough humor to keep the story lines lively. It's got more than a few great scenes, and anything with Baby Groot is a winner.
The soundtrack alone could carry this movie and Kurt Russell is great. It's one of the better Marvel movies.
Watch it.

Review
This showcases some great visuals and tons of CGI work in quite a spectacle, but I do miss the irreverent fun of the first Guardians. This pairs off characters to delve into father-son, sibling, and outcast relationships. One of those sub plots is fine, albeit heavy for what I was hoping, but trying to tackle all three comes off as emotionally manipulative.

The first scene was impeccable. The team for hire is setting up to defend batteries. Rocket is getting the music ready before being chided that music is the least important thing in a battle. When the battle commences Baby Groot wanders over to the radio and connects the cord. Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra begins playing. The camera focuses on Baby Groot, immersed in the song, narrowly misses being smacked around by tentacles as the team fights a Chtulu monster in the background.

The scene confirms that this is a typical day for the team, wherein most movies would treat this encounter as the penultimate battle in the movie. I wanted this movie to be another zany adventure, but the focus on family bogs it down. These are heavy themes for a movie like this, and the theme is explored to varying degrees through Quill, Gamora, and Rocket. That pushes the run time to well over two hours. Most of the quips are in the first quarter of the movie. We needed that level of camaraderie throughout. "Trash panda" is easily the best put down and is much better in context.

While Peter Quill's father is an integral part to who he is, this doubles down with Gamora and her sister's subplot about their rivalry and emotional needs, and then the movie adds another subplot between Yondu and Rocket and how they distance themselves emotionally from others.

Kurt Russell is always fun to watch and is a great choice to play Quill's father, Ego. His arc leads to a few questions. It seems a bit contrived that Quill is the only child out of the potentially hundreds, if not thousands, he's fathered that inherited Ego's specific genetic makeup.
As powerful as Ego is claimed to be, the fact he needs a child to fully harness his power and do whatever it is he wants to do raises the question of what's the bottleneck on his powers?
It seems the only reason he needs Quill is to manufacture a plot for the movie. This is overcome with the sub-plots mentioned before and a couple of well placed Baby Groot scenes. It has a few tongue in cheek references, but I wish we got more of those and less melodrama.
The soundtrack makes the great visuals all the better, setting the mood for the movie.  While I like the first movie better, Volume 2 is still one of the best Marvel movies, avoiding cliches, and remaining fun for the most part.

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