More noise than signal

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

The original 2014 film received widespread praise from most quarters, and while I wouldn’t put it into the top tier of Marvel films, it’s solidly in the 50% of their output that I like. With everything in the -ugh- MCU heading towards some sort of pan-galactic gargleblasting conflict, I’d been hoping this would provide a few more details over the skirting around that it’s received since the first Avengers film.

Instead, even though this film goes to the ends of the universe, it’s really an altogether more domestic affair, focused on the mysterious alien that is Peter “Star Lord” Quill (One of the interchangeable Hollywood Chrises. Pine, maybe?) ‘s father. Who turns out to be a planet. So, not a traditional courtship, but who am I to judge? #woke.

Said planet, Ego, appears to us in human form as Kurt Russell, using some of his immense power to get the crew out of a sticky situation after Rocket’s kleptomania angers a planet of weird golden people whose name I did not think worth committing to memory, or indeed looking up. Ego takes Peter, Gamora and Drax off to his home world, of himself to explain how he came to be, and his plans for Peter, which turn out not to be quite as paternal as first presented.

That’s really the condensed version of the plot, as an actual recap of what exactly happens to who amongst the various factions in the film would be exceptionally convoluted and would add next to nothing to your understanding of the film. As plots go, it seems to have been back-calculated from a position of wanting to test and explore the bonds of family and friendship between the crew and their antagonists.

It does a decent enough job of this, so Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 provides a great amount of satisfaction at the emotional level. You’ll just have to deal with the shoehorning that’s gone on in the script to facilitate that by ignoring the logic centres of your brain for a while.

It’s a bit trite to say it, but if you like the original, you’ll like this, and if you don’t, it’s doing nothing to change your mind. I have much the same criticisms as last time, I think. At a listed two hours fifteen minutes, even with the standard Marvel millions o’ credits, it’s about half an hour too flabby, although to be fair it’s paced smartly enough that it’s more of an issue on reflection than watching.

We’ve spoken before of Marvel’s problems with danger escalation – going rapidly from cities being threatened with destruction to Earth to the Universe itself. How much higher can the stakes be raised? Perhaps with that in mind, the actual galaxy threatening elements of GotG2 seem a little embarrassed to make themselves known, slinking around in the final act and drawing as little attention to themselves as possible. I am entirely okay with this, and would only be made happier were they taken out entirely. I guess they wouldn’t be Guarding the Galaxy, then, but I am no slave to nomenclature.

There’s useful drama mined from the nature/nurture elements of the relationship between Quill, Ego and Yondu, and in what might be a first for a Marvel Studios film, I actually cared about the fate of these characters. A little. Let’s not go crazy.

Again, like the first, it’s big and bold and colourful, packed full of nods to things I largely have no frame of reference for and enough stupid throwaway gags to keep me entertained. Plaudits go to big Dave Bluetisa, as while on paper it goes to his exceptionally literal, no-filter mode of speech much too often as a source of comedy, damn it, it worked every time.

And so it gets much the same review as any Marvel film, really. They’ve got their formula, and by this point you ought to know whether it’s your thing or not. This again swings for the quirkier end of the spectrum, which again I applaud, but it’s not really taking any particular risks. And why should it, while the Marvel logo continues to be a license to print money.

Solid, enjoyable outing. If this is the sort of thing you like, you’ll sort of like it.