About an hour into Guardians I went to the bathroom. I never go to the bathroom at the movies. This has been an unforgiveable sin as long as I’ve been a moviegoer. I’ll admit, this particular time I had a large soda, but that’s neither here nor there. I had an even bigger soda during Alien: Covenant, but the movie was good enough to keep my filled bladder seated. The same cannot be said for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
From the opening scene of Guardians Vol. 2 this movie was trying desperately to be the unhinged, color-outside-the-lines work of art that was the original. However, even the loveable Chris Pratt delivered his lines as if it were the first table read. The jokes fell flat and rigid. Chemistry seemed rusty and forced at best. How am I supposed to believe that the guardians are still calling each other by their Christian names? After just a few months of dating my wife I stopped say “Lizzi” in favor of cute shorthand that friends just naturally develop. Yet Disney felt the need to remind us of their protagonists’ names repeatedly as if their marketing campaign worth five times the GDP of Madagascar wasn’t working properly.
This sequel opens with an ethereal gold-skinned species called Sovereigns hiring the guardians to protect a battery (?) from a giant octopus monster thing while Baby Groot dances around the opening credits. After saving the batteries Rocket steals one because he’s a sassy douchebag thief with whiskers…so, for no reason. The Sovereign don’t like this so they chase the guardians around space for a bit. As the gold people come within inches of capturing our heroes, a mystery man (Kurt Russell) plucks them from peril and reveals himself to be Peter Quill’s (Pratt) biological father, Ego. GASP! Or rather, YAAAWN since Disney’s marketing campaign had this all over the trailers.
From this revelation there’s about an hour of exposition trying to explain who, what, when, why, and how Ego is, or may not actually be, David Hasselhoff. I’m honestly not sure what they settled on. Between Kurt Russell, David Hasselhoff, and Sylvester Stallone in the cast, this movie seemed ripe for a Father’s Day release. What the heck Disney?
The exposition of why Ego was an absentee father to Quill grinds the story to a halt. There’s some weird set design used as the backdrop to Ego’s long winded story telling. At one point there were dozens of 40-foot tall mannequins from JCPenney depicting Ego’s sexual encounters with various alien species. Big swing and a miss, Disney. The one bright spot of Kurt Russell’s character was his assistant, Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff. Her character is socially awkward having been raised in complete isolation which leads to a few funny fish-out-of-water bits. She’s also an empath, as opposed to a telepath. She can feel another’s feelings – an interesting concept, but used mostly for laughs.
As for other humor, the character of Drax (Dave Bautista) got me chuckling the most. And there’s one particularly funny scene where baby Groot is sent off on a solo errand but can’t quite figure out what he’s supposed to do. However, in the grand scheme of this film, most of the comedy did not land for me.
Two things I did like:
- Brief reference to Microsoft’s old iPod competitor, Zune. Normally I’m not a fan of blatant product placement, but the memory of Microsoft trying to be hip in 2006 brought a smile to my face.
- Yondu and Kraglin getting stretchy faces as they jump through space portal thing-ies. Think, The Good Dinosaur when Arlo and caveboy eat the bad berries.
With so many super hero films coming out this day in age, the Guardians franchise stands out as being colorful and heart-warming, but Vol. 2 cannot begin to stand toe-to-toe with the breath of fresh air that was Guardians Vol. 1. Twenty years from now we will look back at Vol. 2 as nothing more than a cog in the Marvel machine used to fund the gargantuan budget for Infinity War, the film that hopefully brings an end to this three-Marvel-movies-a-year madness. May I just say right now, on the record, that Infinity War is already so overly hyped that it will, by definition, disappoint all who see it.