Monday, May 8, 2017


One of the biggest mistakes that filmmakers can make when doing a sequel is to try and top the first film by going bigger, louder, and piling on more characters in an effort to make the sequel worthwhile. Sure, it is important to expand your universe, but at the same time characters have to go somewhere, or else the sequel is just noise. The best approach is not to go bigger but deeper, and that is the mission for James Gunn and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

Just months after the events of the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy; Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), encounter the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell), who is a celestial being who has created a living planet around himself, and claims to be Quill’s long-lost father. Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker), has his crew of Ravagers rebel against him, while Nebula (Karen Gillan), seeks revenge against her sister Gamora.

VOL. 2 is a film which doesn’t have a ton of plot going on. After a thrilling prologue and chase sequence in which the Guardians betray, and are hunted down by a race of Sovereign beings (led by a brilliant performance by Elizabeth Debicki), the team is split up…with one half dealing with Yondu and his mutiny problems, and the other half spending time with Ego. A lot of the film is spent with the team trying to get back together, and unraveling the mystery around Ego and what he is really up to. There is a lot of talking and explaining, and any real plot doesn’t come around until late in the film when a lot of secrets are revealed.

But where VOL. 2 lacks in plot, it more-than makes for it in character. James Gunn, who also wrote the script, sets up his crew of galactic saviors-for-hire in a family dynamic; fathers and mothers, little brothers and big sisters, loud uncles, and even ugly cousins. And while that makes this zany outer space adventure relatable, Gunn takes it one step further by making sure every character in the film has some sort of arc or personal problem to overcome. It’s a massive amount of writing and development, and a ton of heart is poured into it, and the thin plot doesn’t really matter when we’re so invested in each character. The characters are the story, and that’s where GUARDIANS really soars.

The laughs and gags are non-stop and of the knee-slapping, gut-busting kind; be prepared to LOL at least 50 times. But at the same time, be prepped to cry as well, as Gunn manages to pull the heartstrings to great effect. The pacing is breakneck, save for the second act which could have been a little tighter, but the action beats and galactic fuckery is a blast. Gunn also does marvelous work behind the camera lens; every single frame is loaded with detail in endless perfectly framed shots, and the film basically demands more than one viewing just to make sure we’ve seen everything that he’s filling the frame with. The color palette is eye-popping, and the overall visual effects are stunning. Music selections vary from classic rock, soul, and folk and help drive the plot.

Acting is very good all around. Chris Pratt has basically mastered his character, and his chemistry with Zoe Saldana seems to be getting better. Dave Bautista, as the brutish and literal Drax, is once again a show-stealer, and Bradley Cooper gets even more time to make Rocket the biggest wise-ass in the galaxy. Another highlight is Pom Klementieff as Ego’s personal assistant Mantis, who is fascinating to watch. Kurt Russell is a blast, and Michael Rooker is equally fun. The film is packed tight with many cameos, including (but not limited to), Sylvester Stallone and Rob Zombie…and of course Stan Lee…whose many appearances in various Marvel movies is finally explained. But the movie probably belongs to the vastly adorable Baby Groot, who has trouble following simple instructions but still manages to be a hero in the most sickenly cutest ways possible.

Despite being firmly embedded in the ever-growing series of Marvel superhero films, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 firmly exists as a stand-alone adventure (keeping in mind it’s a direct sequel), and it smartly doesn’t punt various storylines down the road for other films to pick up…but it does plant seeds for its very own VOL. 3. James Gunn, along with his bosses in Disney and Marvel Studios, have put together a franchise within a franchise here, with VOL. 2 a true standout; one that will cause many laughs, cheers, and tears…and a vast amount of affection for every Guardian.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.