Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

While I was not as enamored of the first Guardians of the Galaxy as most of the population, I thought it was an okay, insane romp that introduced us to the cosmic MCU. I liked it better than Ant-Man, but that's about it.

And Frankly, I think this in in the top half of the best Marvel films.

This was ... surprisingly, a character driven story all the way. I was actually kind of shocked. Character? Really? Yes, really. Bring a tissue for this one, believe it or not. It feels like that, if Joss Whedon told James Gunn to bring the crazy, the Russo brothers (Captain America: Civil War) told him to bring the character-- as they had for civil war.

And I liked the opening credits. Like with the first one, the credits are done to a dance sequence .... only with an epic battle going on in the background.

It is not a spoiler to say that Kurt Russel plays Peter Quill's father. The first minute of the film begins with a young Kurt Russell, complete with Snake Plisken hair, and Peter's mother. I can't tell if Kurt has aged that well, it was awesome makeup, or impressive CGI.

Fast forward to the present, where the Guardians are working as mercenaries, clearing out an interdimensional beastie going after batteries on an alien planet. And, with the usual people skills we have expected from them, they piss off the clients, and have an army on their backs.

Enter Kurt Russell, as Ego, the Living Planet. He's a celestial, a demi-god with some interesting powers and abilities. At this point, the plot splits two ways -- with Peter off with his father, while the empire hunting them have sent Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his ravagers after them.

Hilarity ensues.

In Kurt Russell's employ is a "Pet," an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff). And I have to tell you, I was impressed with how well she was utilized over the course of the film. For example, Drax is so stoic, Mantis' expressions brought a lot to his character, and moved the plot along. Pom Klementieff has an amazingly expressive face, and brings a lot to the characters, while having one of her own, despite the circumstances. What circumstances?

Long, long story.

Believe it or not, they have this interesting theme of family going through the film. I was surprised at how delicately it was presented. There wasn't any heavy handed writing or delivery. It helps that the theme comes at the audience from multiple different directions in a varieties of styles-- from Ego and Peter, Yondu and Rocket, Gamora and Nebula, Gamora and Peter... ish.... and Drax, all by himself. Not to mention that we've also got a great theme of how your choices, and your decisions, make you -- because you are more than just who gave birth to you.

The money shot.
As for the acting .... again, total surprise. Chris Pratt is allowed some interesting range in this film fact, most of them are, but Peter Quill is put through so much in this movie, I'm surprised Pratt pulled it off. The same for Kurt Russell -- but Kurt's an old hand at this by now. The script handed him a lot to do, and he was up to the challenge. Dave Bautista managed to pull off more characteristics of Drax, using less on the screen. In part, that's due to Mantus. Hell, Yandu, the blue space redneck from volume 1, brought a lot of emotional depth. This is still the best acting job that Vin Diesel had ever done.

My only question is with Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian (Nebula), who both need more to do. Yes, Saladana, as Gamora, is fun, and her relationship with Nebula is an entertaining subplot in the film. But damn it, Nebula has not been given enough material to justify the hiring of Karen Gillian. She had one scene -- exactly one-- where there was emotional depth. But I'm not sure we needed an actress as well as Gillian in order to do it. Saldana has more to do, and I'm glad she was allowed to dance. Because she's a ballerina by training.

So, yeah, this was a fun little film.

Also: Watch out for cameos from: David Hasselhoff (really), Michelle Yeoh, Ving Rhames, and even Sylvester Stallone.

The Dragon Awards are open and ready for nominations, and I have a list of suggestions you might want to take a look at. If you already  have a good idea of what you want, just click here to go and vote for them. The instructions are right there.

The Love at First Bite series. 


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