Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (second-pass)

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (2D / second-pass / SPOILERS)
Cert: 12A / 136 mins / Dir. James Gunn / Trailer

Okay, this is your spoiler-break. Everything after this section will tell you far more than you need to know if you haven't already seen Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2, and besides that, won't make a lot of sense. I still stand by the full-marks I gave the film in my first-pass review. While the story does little to advance the thread of Thanos trying to get his mitts on All Of The Infinity Stones, GotG2's an enormous amount of fun and boasts actual character development across the board, which is not to be sniffed at.

There's just a few things niggling at me. Here be spoilers...

Seriously mate, SPOILERS FOLLOW…

Fractious and fragmented.

Firstly, there's the pacing and flow of the movie. In order to properly facilitate that character development (and there's something for pretty much everyone other than Drax and Groot, who are just amplified versions of their last appearance), the gang needs to be split up. But when this occurs, the film's momentum suffers, since the best Guardians scenes are where they're fighting side by side. The audience spends the first-act watching their friends bicker, the second watching them be unhappy apart, and the third watching them reunited, but notably subdued. And there's no doubt it makes for an interesting film, but that's not necessarily what audiences are expecting from Marvel.

Leaving so soon, Yondu?

And then there's the blue-guy. It's always fun watching Michael Rooker onscreen, but he was a supporting character in Guardians, at best. My only real complaint this time is that I wanted to see more of him being part of the team, rather than helping out on the periphery then carking it for a reason which could have been easily avoided at screenplay-level. His character-arc and ultimate send-off here are nice, but feel way too rushed. Don't forget that other than a very brief flashback montage in this second film, we've really seen nothing but the pirate and his protege complaining about each other. The emotional connection that Peter (re)establishes with Yondu feels like it should be happening in the third part of a trilogy, not the second, and while his bonding with Rocket is an unexpectedly nice touch, that feels as if it needs to be reinforced into the next film, too.

Daddy issues.

But my main issue is Peter's dad. The non-Terran half of Star-Lord's physiology was hinted at pretty boldly at the end of the first movie*1, so I'd certainly expected it to be addressed in the sequel. But the whole thing seems to be wrapped up both neatly and quickly, here. The character is introduced, transformed and despatched all within one movie, giving his relationship with Peter no time to resonate with the audience (and barely even with Peter himself). From a screen-time point of view, Ego may as well be Whiplash from Iron Man 2.

In terms of his character-development, there's clearly something amiss from the start as Gamora thankfully notes. And since the audience is with her on this, there's no 'reveal' when things go south and it turns out the guy's a planet-sized sociopath (his name's 'Ego', it was hardly subtext). Finding it impossible to warm to him, I had no emotional commitment when it came to the inevitable blows in the third-act. A big part of this comes down to the casting; I have no strong feelings either way on Kurt Russell the actor, but he's playing a psychotic narcissist with a history of luring innocents into a trap, exploiting their pride and vulnerability while knowing he's more powerful than them, casting aside their corpses when they fail to meet his expectations, and who finally meets his match when he picks on the wrong group. That's basically his Stuntman Mike character from Tarantino's Death Proof, and Russell plays it almost identically, especially in the scene where he's breaking down the lyrics to the song Brandy. Except the Guardians aren't out for Revenge™, so it's not as satisfying to see him finally lose.

Besides all that, Ego says that he needs his son's power to help execute his galactic plan, but he also says that if the core of the planet (ie Ego himself) dies, Peter will lose his demigod-abilities. Well it can't be both, can it? If Star-Lord's a separate entity in his own right, capable of boosting the raw power of Ego, then he'll continue to be so after the Celestial collapses, otherwise his father will only have been tapping into energy he had access to in the first place, and he could have just done it on his own.

I still love the film, though.
Anyway, discuss...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Guardians Of The Galaxy.
You'll certainly need to have seen the first movie to begin with, at least

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
You should.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.
Whether that's what it should have been setting out to do is another discussion

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Probably not best, but…

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Let's find out.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Still didn't hear one, no.
Help me out here folks...

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Missed a trick last time, didn't I?
This film features Seth 'Todo 360' Green as Howard The Duck.
Always read the credits, Yen; you're there waiting for extra scenes anyway...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And speaking of which, at the denouement Guardians, Nova Prime tells Peter that the non-human half of his lineage is "something very ancient, we've never seen here before". But the galactic community knows what Celestials are, don't they? In that same film, Knowhere (the location of The Collector's dealership) is stated by Gamora to be the head of a long-dead Celestial. Are Marvel just making this up as they go along? [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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