Yes, tis I, reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. I’d heard bad things and good things about this second instalment. I’m pleased to report while there are criticisms to be made, this is a surprisingly upbeat, nay almost saccharin outing for Star Lord et al.
There were tears and revelations and CGI characters that looked better than the effort in Rogue One. Mostly, however, the tears were mine. Imagine a bespoke spaceship family comprised of ne-er-do-wells and troubled veterans of trauma and no it’s not Firefly, but it could have been, except for the aliens.
What I’m trying to say, is that GoTGV2 is so overt in its psychology I’m surprised Freud didn’t get a I am Groot credit at the end. Everything obvious and blatant, including a parent called Ego. I mean come on. Then there’s the will-they-won’t-they romantic element that’s called out with 80s TV references, and yet still works. And that’s the film. All the characters discover, almost to the point of saying out loud: love is the answer and family is everything, including the source of powers as well as their deepest vulnerabilities.
And yet despite all of this, I can’t loathe this film. As an apparently sophisticated story-teller I had it drummed into me that telling is wrong and wrecks stories but Guardians V2 is not ruined. This is because the characters are just doing what they do too well. Peter Quill gets all his heroic moments, while also being the human heart of the film. Drax is note perfect in his combination of bathos and literalism that shows up Quill’s (and by extension all humanity’s) un-deconstructed biases. Meanwhile, Rocket is the Martin Riggs Lethal Weapon to Quill’s more reasonable personality. There’s relief for the fact that Gamora is not just a romantic interest as she and Nebula explore their sibling rivalries left over from last time.
What made it, even from the opening credits, was Groot. Baby Groot stole the film. He connected everyone, no matter which group he was a part of. He defined the guardian aspect of this crew, in that he wasn’t just there to be useful in tight places (as young Quill was for Yondu), but had to be taken care of.
Shout out for Sean Gunn’s Kraglin too. He featured more this time and it was worth it.
I’ve read criticisms of the sound track for being too weak, or lacking number one hits, but even when it was obvious (Father and Son), it worked. It was fun, while also driving the plot, rather than being background to build emotion. I left the cinema simultaneously wiping away tears and wanting to dance.
Criticisms: does every sci-fi world require background ‘robot courtesans’ for literal window dressing? Really? Can we just not?
The plot. Look, most of the plot outside of the family themes doesn’t matter except regarding the stuff related to a sequel. The Ravager sequences were a sidebar and mostly undeveloped. It would be good if those characters who featured in these bits returned to do some telling of their own. The scenes where we learn more about Yondu’s history felt rushed (even in a long film) like there was exposition missing between him being a respected outlaw and him being outlawed by the outlaws. But for the overall effect, it doesn’t matter. It all mostly makes sense in the multiple endings. Don’t leave before the credits finish, is what I’m saying.