May-15-2017

Reel Snippet – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Synopsis: Break out your Walkman and your laser guns, the Guardians of the Galaxy are back! The Star-Lord himself, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his band of misfits, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and the now Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are now well known throughout the cosmos and get approached often as heroes for hire. After escaping an irate client out for their hides, they come across a being named Ego (Kurt Russell), who happens to be Peter’s father. Along with an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff), he takes Peter, Gamora, and Drax to his own personal planet to catch up with his son and help him achieve his destiny. But their old foes Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are hot on their trail and Ego just might have some serious skeletons in his closet. This can only mean one thing: it’s time to suit up, save the galaxy, and look good doing it.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a blast, through and through. It’s a bit hard to say if it was as good as the first. On the one hand, it doesn’t have the freshness the first one did, though to be fair, the first one blew everyone out of the water for how unique it was. On the other hand, the characterizations, scale, and tonal balance was so much stronger in this one. To say the least, it’s a great way to kick off the summer movie season.

One of the most glowing aspects of this movie is its interactions and character dynamics. The Guardians have evolved from just being allies of convenience to a full-blown family, complete with bickering while driving. The group plays really well off each other and their dialogue is an ever-flowing fountain of gold. But it doesn’t stop there; scattered throughout the movie are odd pairings that not only flesh out the new characters, but help develop the old. You’ve got Gamora and Nebula, Star-Lord and Ego, Drax and Mantis, and Rocket and Yondu all getting their fair share of screentime and making up some amazing scenes that are equal parts awesome, funny, and touching. Oh, and Baby Groot is adorable.

Surprisingly, this movie has a lot of heartfelt moments both touching and tragic, which you wouldn’t expect from a movie featuring a violent, foul-mouthed raccoon. They balance out with the more comedic and action-packed parts so well, you might not even notice the tonal transition. Compare this to the first film where the shift from flirty fun to Rocket’s dramatic scene occurred with a clunk so audible, you can hear it from the next theater over. It’s not the only place writer-director James Gunn has improved, either. There was a bit of grumbling in the previous film about its treatment of women, which included the shafting of “the deadliest woman in the galaxy” Gamora and some other bro-y moments. This movie does not have that problem as all of the lady folk have many moments to shine and none of them are arm candy. And yes, it even passes the Bechdel Test. You know, that test that people seem to think is an automatic indicator of whether something is feminist even though it certainly isn’t. But I digress.

But to talk about one of the greatest strengths of the movie. I have to go into spoiler territory. I don’t like to do this with movies I enjoy, but this requires it to be discussed.

[SPOILERS INCOMING! DIVERT ALL POWER TO FORWARD SHIELDS!]

Ego is the villain of this story. Oh lord, is he the villain. Why do I bring this up? Well, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has garnered a reputation for having lackluster villains, whether for being generic or having a weak screen presence. Ego breaks that mold something fierce by being dynamic, memorable, and even charming. His character concept is interesting too, being a cosmic consciousness birthed at the beginning of time whose main goal, achieved through the total annihilation of everything, is to gain a purpose for himself and alleviate boredom. There’s also some minor villains called the Sovereign, led by the decadent Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), that are entertaining in their own way and even the Ravagers that betray Yondu have a lot of character and funny moments. Simply put, this film is teeming with great villains.

[SPOILERS OVER, CAPTAIN! FULL ENGINES AHEAD!]

This is my favorite type of movie to review because I don’t have to feel guilty for trying to figure out a nice thing to say about a bad time or be forced to admit something glaringly wrong about something I liked. As someone who has experienced the ups and downs of the MCU, I can tell you this is top quality Marvel goods. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll definitely make you cry, and it’ll make you jam along with the awesome soundtrack. If you’re beaten down by the world, want to have fun, or need to feel all sorts of wonderful emotions, stop what you’re doing and make time to watch this wild ride.

And now, for your reading pleasure, a number of Fun Tidbits.

Fun Tidbit #1: At some point in the movie, the robotic fin on Yondu’s head that lets him control his arrow gets destroyed and he needs to get a new one. This new, larger fin is actually reminiscent of what Yondu originally wore in his debut in the comics. To add to this bit of meta, it’s referred to as a “prototype fin.” Heh.

Fun Tidbit #2: In one of five post-credits scenes (okay, seriously, I do love these, but I think five’s pushing it a bit), Ravager commander Stakar (Sylvester Stallone) is inspired by Yondu’s recent actions and gets a crew of Ravager commanders to go on adventures “like old times.” This motley crew is the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Yeah, the comics didn’t start out with Peter Quill’s gang, they began with this team, which Yondu was originally a part of.


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