Enjoy this Monday with Mildred and A 241 Review!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume II
Having vowed not to repeat my Doctor Strange* mistake, I made a point of going to see Volume II in the theater, despite flooding that caused me to backtrack for several miles to get to the highway. Like the rest of the world, I was nervous about seeing GotG:II because the first one was an awesome surprise and I hated to think the Marvel team would screw up a good thing. Fortunately, the wet trip into town was worth the effort.
The movie does suffer some from sequel-itis. Now that we know the characters writer/director James Gunn goes for the deeper exploration of all their psyches, histories, relationships, desires, etc. etc. with the overriding theme being FAMILY. Considering how very many characters there are in this movie – and I counted over 60 on the imdb before my eyes got tired – that means a black hole ton of character explorations. Gunn’s family ties of course must also advance the Marvel Cinematic Universe storylines. This strained the knots a few times and watered down the story, causing some of the relationship plots to end too pat and schmaltzy. I know, I know, after all the whining about Disney endings I shouldn’t complain.
Another sequel-itis problem is the escalation of the big fight scenes, and there are several, beginning in the first moments of the film. I think there may have been credits rolling but there are three things going on at once the first few minutes. The Guardians are in a huge mano a cosmic space beast fight while the ADORABLE baby Groot gets underfoot, dances to music supplied by the volume II mix tape, and plays with his toys (space rats). With all that, it’s no surprise the credits get lost. You can’t even watch most of the fight because Groot steals the entire movie from the beginning. There are several more ginormous fight scenes, all of them in very different locales with all the Guardians given time to shine. The fight logic ebbs and flows, with the characters either able to absorb planet killing blows or being knocked out with a punch, but Gunn also uses each sequence to further the plot and build characters.
The Awesome Mix wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped. It’s still a fun bunch of nostalgic songs for those of us of a certain age, but they aren’t as eccentric as the first mix, they each have a blatant Message, and they linger a wee bit too long. The score is simply too in-your-face. Plus, they’re songs picked by a romantic woman and are about Feelings and Relationships and not songs picked to make the young people gape at the screen and say, “Whoa, music was weird but cool back then.” Since this is the very strong theme of the film I see why Gunn did it, but I was a little disappointed.
All that said, I had a really good time! I laughed out loud many times because the jokes are so character driven. Gamora’s big fight scene has a super improbable moment that is also hilarious because we understand her deep, deep emotion of the moment. Drax plays a practical joke that, because the audience knows the characters so well also knows what he’s up to and we get to wait for the fantastic payoff, like we’re part of the family. From visual hilarity to horselaugh funny to giggling subtlety, this is one of the funniest movie I’ve seen in a very long time.
Guardians will also, surprisingly, make you cry. There is pain and loss in this movie that affected at least the audience I was watching with and is another way this Marvel franchise differentiates itself. Pain and suffering in the other movies are motivations, not a harsh payoff.
Of all the pieces in the franchise, the Guardians’ place in the Marvel universe is wonderfully wide open, colorful and full of wonderful characters, making it easy to get completely lost in the story and forget about the weaknesses. Like the first film, this Guardians follows the original comic material loosely, with many changes to characters, setting and history. Not being an expert (all right, not having read any of the comics) this doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m enjoying the story they’re telling just fine as it is. The drawback to my ignorance is knowing the bazillion Easter eggs in the movie – way more than the first film – are completely over my head. I can live with that, as long as the Internets are there to bring me up to speed later.
Go and see this in a theater, because BIG plus great sound. The 3D experience was nice, with one excelsior moment, but otherwise pretty standard. Audience appreciation in the form of much laughing and later blowing of noses adds a lot to the experience of a really funny movie that exists in a goofy fun science fiction universe.
“I am Groot.”
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume II
OVERALL: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So good Hubby and I saw it two days in a row. May need to go back.
POINTS: Pretty much all of it.
I must thought salute director James Gunn because he is as much of a talented writer and director of groups as Joss Whedon. Oh yeah, I wrote that. His script and direction IMMEDIATELY show you that the Guardians have been together for a while, and they know each other! They squabble and interact, both verbally AND PHYSICALLY just like a family does. I salute the cast as well. That is very difficult to pull of in direction, writing, and acting and they did IT! HUZZAH!!!!!! I was an still am really, really, really impressed by this. 🙂
PITFALLS: Well more fun music, but eh, not really much of a pitfall here. I liked more of the songs in the first movie but hey, me and my troupe are dancing to this soundtrack at Gen Con so it has to be good!
FEMALE CHARACTER(S): Yes! First I’ve always loved Zoe Saldana and she DELIVERS Gamora perfectly. I love all of her nuances in the character and I believe James Gunn loves the character too and doesn’t short change her. Now we have more of Nebula (Karen Gillan) and a new character Mantis (Pom Klementieff). So awesome to see more women joining the team. So awesome to have great male and female characters play off of each other as equals. They play off each other’s foibles, not stereotypes. Schweet!
CULTURAL PITFALL(S): Well this actually gives Vol. 2 a big thumbs up!
First: The movie opens with a huge fight scene against a large, tentacled, alien. It is finally Gamora, after much team work, who delivers the killing blow with her sword. Drax however takes the credit because he thinks he did it. Everyone basically rolls their eyes. I looked at my friends and well went “Yes, all women” because it is a classic example of being overlooked while female.
Second: Quill tells Drax he sounds like an “old woman.” Drax says “Is that because I sound wise?”
Third: Quill confirms that Yondu looks like Mary Poppins AND yes Mary Poppins IS a badass. Yondu then announces “I’m Mary Poppins!” So true on so many levels. Just YES!
I love you, James Gunn.
HIGH POINT(S): Several worth mentioning!
1.) Gamora and Nebula Fight Scene. Ok, when Gamora picked up the REALLY big ship cannon and used it as a bazooka against Nebula I was so happy!!!! Squee!! Especially since Peter/Star Lord earlier comments on her using swords.
2.) Gamora and Nebula Good-bye. When Nebula leaves in the end, Gamora talks to her about being one of the lost and discarded little girls of the universe. I sweat to all that is holy, they so need to use this scene to help raise awareness of the abuse of women and girls around the world. It is just ready to be an awesome commercial. Good for fighting abuse against little boys too.
3.) Baby Groot is the Baby!! I love how everyone in the movie takes care of Groot! He is the baby of the family!! Rocket makes him spit out bugs in the middle of a fight. Gamora tells him to be careful. They all hold and pass him around to keep him safe. They love him. It is good.
END SPOILER ALERT!
BECHDEL TEST (Website): 3 of 3! OMG! As I was watching the SPOILER big fight between Gamora and Nebula I thought “Well yup. Just passed the Bechdel Test.” Freaking awesome fight. See High Points above. END SPOILER
RACIAL BECHDEL TEST (Website): Well, ok, if we look at Zoe Saldana and Pom Klementieff as Mantis then OMG! we get a 2.5 because they do dominate a few conversations but there are others in the room. squee. 🙂
OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2
DVD/BLU-RAY WORTHY: YES NOW PLEASE!!
LION PAW PRINTS: 4 of 5.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Teaser Trailer
CFR: In Addition: The first 35 seconds of this trailer fully capture EXACTLY what it is like to teach. And learn. Perfect.
*Yeah shame me again, go ahead Mildred. – CFR