Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Marvel has figured out a formula that works for superhero films. As more of a DC guy, it’s a shame to me that there haven’t been any good Superman films since 1951’s Superman and the Mole-Men, and only about a third of the Batman movies are worth watching. I still hold out hope that Wonder Woman will be worthy. Until then, the gang at Marvel delivered the goods, again. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has all of the snark and violence of the original, and plenty of family issues to work out. It’s as if the screenwriters were working out some internal
complications and wrote this galactic saga instead of seeking therapy.

With the latest installment of the series, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) finally meets his dad, Ego (Kurt Russell — how awesome is it that Star-Lord’s dad is Snake Plisskin?). The two bond after Star-Lord comes to terms his absent father issues, his mom’s death, and more than a few other buried emotions. There may be some people who find Ego’s backstory to be familiar in a religious sense. Ignore them and enjoy not only the special effects but the sounds of Glen Campbell, Looking Glass, Cheap Trick, ELO, and Fleetwood Mac.

Not to be left out of the family issues dynamic, sisters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) fight it out. The amount of real estate these two destroy is nothing short of amazing. Bullets fly, spacecraft get wrecked, and bonding moments transpire. Nebula has severe daddy issues and vows to kill her father. There’s a line in the song “Androgynous” by the Replacements that feels appropriate: “Don’t get him wrong, don’t get him mad/ He might be a father, but he sure ain’t a dad.”

Drax (Dave Bautista, still as huge and lovable as ever) lost his tribe years before, so the Guardians have become his de facto family. The baritone behemoth is always willing to come to his new pals’ aid. Coupled with the fact that Drax has a laugh that can shake the earth beneath his feet, the lumbering hero is fast-becoming one of my favorite characters.

In creating an auditory landscape, director James Gunn turns up the volume in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:  Expect explosions and cheesy pop tunes from the ’70s and ’80s. Gunn also has the ability to get out of the way and let Rocket Raccoon unleash a tirade of crass language and nonstop insults. Or, he could turn the camera around to face Baby-Faced Groot and reveal his adorable antics. Seriously, Baby Groot is the most adorable thing on film. Rocket is not only coiled anger and raw nerves, but is always armed to the teeth. As you would expect, the Guardians continue to bond, even as a planet beneath them is imploding.

Divulging plot points might anger some people who want to know nothing about the film until they see it, so no spoilers here. However, you should know that at some point, Rocket double crosses the Sovereign, a race of gold-skinned, genetically engineered, self-satisfied elitists. They give chase across the galaxy, bent on vengeance. They’re the kind of family that puts the fun in dysfunctional.

That formula Marvel has figured out? Violence, sarcasm and really big finishes. Why re-invent the wheel when the wheel is fun to watch?

 

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Author: Barry Benintende

Barry has spent his entire adult life watching movies, listening to music and finding people gullible enough to pay him to do so. As the former Executive Editor of the La Jolla Light, Editor of the South County Mail, Managing Editor of D-Town, Founder and Editor of sQ Magazine, Managing Editor of Kulture Deluxe, and Music Critic for San Diego Newsline, you would figure his writing would not be so epically dull. He has also written for the San Diego Reader, the Daily Californian, the Marshfield Mail, Cinemanian and too many other papers and magazines that have been consigned to the dustbin of history. A happily-married father of two sons and a daughter, Barry has an unhealthy addiction to his hometown San Diego Padres and the devotion of his feisty Westie, Adie. Buy him a cup of coffee and he can spend an evening regaling you with worthless music or baseball trivia. Buy him two and you’ll never get rid of him.

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