Sunday, May 14, 2017

Theatrical Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Date: Sunday May 7 2017
Time: 1:45 pm
Party: mom, aunt and I 

Writer/Director: James Gunn

Star-Lord- Chris Pratt
Gamora- Zoe Saldana
Drax- Dave Baustisa
Groot- Vin Diesel
Rocket- Bradley Cooper
Nebula- Karen Gillan
Yondu- Michael Rooker
Ego- Kurt Russell
Mantis- Pom Klementieff
Starkar Ogord- Sylvester Stallone
Ayesha- Elizabeth Debicki

Duration: 138 minutes (+2 trailers)


Opening comments 

As is often the case with these movies (sequels in particular) there's always going to be those negative reviews that bug me. 

One said this had a lot of the things from the first movie that worked. But also criticized it for not really getting to the plot (which I'll add includes the reveal of who the central villain is) until later on and the final battle is inane and runs too long.

Another article wasn't so much about this movie in particular, but a genre of movie that's apparently new and annoying people. (Who these "people" are- I have no idea but I don't want to know them). The article criticized movies sub-genred as "needle-droppers" where a song starts to play, the movie becomes about that song and you're so swept up in nostalgia that you forget the movie is crap.

First of all, I'm not saying this movie is perfect. Second of all, this is not new. Saturday Night Fever- in my opinion- was a terrible movie. It's best remembered for John Travolta kicking ass on the dance floor and The Bee Gees. The movie itself was dark and not particularly fun unless there was music playing. Purple Rain could get the same argument, but the movie was designed to highlight the music as well as introducing Prince to the world beyond MTV. The plot was always kinda secondary behind him, the characters (and most are characters- not 100% accurate to the people in real life) and the music.

Third- I just don't like how this article sees this sub-genre as a bad thing... whatever gets people to see movies, what the hell does it matter why they go to begin with.

As for this movie's music--in my opinion, for this to be a "needle-dropper," the songs have to be memorable. Other than "Brandy" which got played twice- I couldn't remember any. The previous movie I at least could name 3. [But I was already familiar with the Jackson 5 and Pina Colada song, just to name a couple]

Now onto the actual stuff people care about...

We were among maybe 21 people and it was kinda miserable outside so the escapism (which this movie essentially is) was much appreciated 


One was a super tease for the new Star Wars movie. A narrative by Mark Hamill and brief moments with the new characters. From what I've heard, Luke isn't willing to teach Rey about The Force at first. I just hope Oscar Isaac gets a lot more screen time in this movie 

Then there was a trailer for the new Thor movie which I hadn't seen until now. His hammer gets broken and he's forced to be a gladiator and fight the Hulk. He's cheering, saying that he knows him from work and it was hilarious. Can't wait- too bad it's not until November 

The Main Event 

 I guess in a way you could compare the handling of the plot to the novel "Twilight".

 Stay with me on this... 

 The book read like this:

Bella is new in town. She becomes infatuated with Edward Cullen, the two of them get to know each other, she meets his family and suddenly the plot happens.

One could argue (I could) that the plot was about Edward and Bella getting together and in the last third, they're trying to deal with this new threat to their happiness.

Guardians of the Galaxy this time around is a lot like that--except a lot more action-packed and the only thing not really highlighted is romance. Maybe hinted at, but part of me will be kinda disappointed if Star-Lord and Gamora get together because it's so damn cliché.

But we have various plot lines and character arcs happen and maybe it takes a little too long for it all to come together in the final third of the movie.

But if that's what you care about (namely: things making sense), this might be the wrong movie for you.
This movie is about character interaction, crazy space battles, and... basically that's it 

Those who care about a plot...

Star-Lord meets his father Ego (no spoilers but this guy lives up to his name in more ways than one).

At the start of the movie, the Guardians are contracted by a golden somewhat regal alien race to defeat this monster who wants to go after their energy source- super special batteries. As much as I love Groot- in this case Baby Groot- the movie focusing on him dancing to music (can't even remember what song-- at least in the first movie the song, in a similar moment, was memorable) instead of the actual fight... it just made the fight seem pointless.

So did the fact Rocket stole some of these batteries... because of his character? Or because we needed to make this race of aliens an enemy for the Guardians... which is more likely to play out in the next sequel. (I did love the methodology of their ships and how they conduct their battles-- the ships are drones and the fighters are on the ship in virtual reality pods, like a more interactive first-person space shooter game).

This first space battle leads to a crash landing, half the crew goes to Ego's planet and the other half eventually gets captured by Yondu's raiders... except Yondu ceases to be in charge after a point. This is due to his favoritism of Star-Lord and past transgressions that get fully hashed out later (which is another nice touch- completing that story arc begun in the first movie).

Character Discussion and Development

Don't quite know why, but the non-humanoid characters are my favorites. I loved Rocket and Groot from the first movie and that's still true. Although Groot not quite as much as Rocket. Which is even stranger because Groot is so cute and Rocket is not only a jerk most of the time, but a lot of what goes wrong is his fault. Also in the review I read, it said playing Rocket is the easiest money Bradley Cooper will ever make. I didn't know what was supposed to mean, considering how hot and cold the article was- but he is so good in this role... I just forget that Bradley Cooper is the one playing him. (I'd only been a big fan since seeing him in movies like "The Words" and "Burnt"- the critics and I are complete opposites on those- but I won't necessarily go out of my way to see one of his movies. The premise has to grab my attention).

Drax was a character that was almost as much a surprise as Groot- he's not always easy to like, but he got a bit of a following after the first movie came out. I think I read somewhere that an autistic boy said he was his favorite character because they had one thing in common-- they take things literally and don't often understand sarcasm.

In this movie, it would seem like Drax had been spending too much time with Star-Lord and Rocket because he makes one or two jokes that are actually kinda funny. But he still doesn't have a complete grasp of the obvious.

Then there's the whole dynamic between Gamora and her sister Nebula-- which is extremely confrontational but also mired in jealousy.

Elizabeth Debicki plays Ayesha, the leader of the regal alien race (whose name I don't remember or feel like Googling) and judging from the post-credits scene (one of FIVE-- so stay to the end of the credits), we won't be seeing the last of her.
For me, it was great to see her again... I hadn't seen her around since she played Jordan Baker in "The Great Gatsby" (she was my inspiration to get a Gatsby 20's haircut-- which I had gotten practically once a year since 2013).

Don't think I'll give away much more than that. But the final third of the movie... so much happens. Not just from a visual effects standpoint, but the character development as well. It's action packed, but there's also a running gag that spans maybe 3 minutes between Groot, Rocket and Star-Lord (it is so stupid and unnecessary, but most people who love these characters won't care) and you feel almost every emotion possible with what's revealed and the results of these final battles.

Grade: A-
[Looking back at the last review I wrote, I gave it the same score... both Guardian movies are great, but for different reasons. That's not something you can often get with sequels, which is nice)


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