Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn (screenplay)
Marvel Studios, 2017
PG-13; 136 minutes
4.5 stars (out of 5)


I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I don't think I enjoyed it quite as much as the first film, but nearly. There is a lot of humor, as usual, though most of the funny stuff goes to Drax this time. I can't remember the last time I laughed that much at a movie. Visually, this is an eye-catching film, too. And it has the soundtrack you expect as well.

But I was also really aware of stuff in this movie in a way that I wasn't last time. And I don't know if that's a good thing.

The "family" theme—I felt hit over the head with that, with how often they felt the need to even say the word "family." I kept thinking, Yeah, we get it. Same with Quill insisting that he and Gamora have an "unspoken thing." You don't have to keep saying it; we're smart enough to read facial expressions.

Chris Pratt is also only ever Chris Pratt, and the more movies he makes the more obvious that becomes. I wish someone would give him a role that's at least a little bit different. (Then again, if he is terrible at anything but this one thing he does, maybe that's a bad idea. Maybe we just need new types of characters in movies, or else Chris Pratt is going to be in ALL THE THINGS.) Don't get me wrong, I love what he does. It just no longer feels very fresh.

That said, some of the lightness of the first movie is gone from this one thanks to heavy character moments. They've stacked a lot of pathos on top of the humor here. I'm not sure how well it works; I'm still processing some of that, I think. I did feel like we were getting a lot of sobby backstories, though. A lot of exposition via one character feeling the need to tell another character some stuff.

Okay, so what's the actual movie about? Um . . . Quill's father Ego (Kurt Russell, perfectly cast) turns up to take Quill "home" to the planet he created, or maybe actually is, or something. Ego is a "Celestial," which means he's kind of a god. He can manipulate matter, and he wants to teach his son to do the same. I won't give away anything more than that.

Meanwhile, Gamora's sister Nebula continues to pursue her.

And a race called the Sovereign are after the Guardians because Rocket stole some batteries from them. The Sovereign are consistently good for laughs throughout the movie; they are self-important and "fight" remotely by manning ships via what approximates a video game interface. If you're familiar with arcade culture, you'll find it amusing.

Yondu is there, too, facing a mutiny as his men think he's gone too soft.

The script was written to be quoted, pithy with many one-liners. And the movie does what it's meant to do, which is entertain. I'd certainly go see it again, as it's very watchable. The points above are mere nits I'm picking, because any time I find myself noticing something while watching a film, I have to wonder why I'm noticing. What's pulling me out of being totally immersed? But these are small things, and though they distracted me, they did not sink the film for me. And the addition of Pom Klementieff as Mantis is fabulous. She makes a great foil for Drax.*

Meanwhile, my kids think it's the best movie ever made, so . . .

*It's been pointed out that Mantis' role emphasizes the stereotype of subservient Asian women. I hadn't really thought about it; I was too busy enjoying her role. But I can see the problems with it, and also with her being even "stupider" than Drax. The dumb female is another stereotype we could do without. It left me to wonder whether Klementieff cringed at some of the lines she was given?


Christine Rains said...

I really want to see this! How did your youngest do with it? My son is interested, but I don't know if he's quite ready for it yet.

M said...

They ALL loved it, and none of them had any problems. Then again, we're pretty permissive. There is blatant discussion of penises at one point, and my daughter didn't bat an eye. She's too used to her brothers talking about theirs.