GOTG VOl II-A Review

Posted: 05/08/2017 in Uncategorized

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For one cameo scene alone, this film is superb, but as a unified whole, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II gamely delivers on the promise set forth in their first outing. The saying “go big or go home” sticks in my mind as with this latest venture, director James Gunn went exceedingly big. The reach and scope of this movie as pertains to the MCU is formidable. The action, bombast and assurance that this must be seen on big screen aren’t just words. Marvel has it down.

This film is an epic. It is a space opera. It isn’t just a big blasting sequel, however, it is the establishment of the framework for the next several phases of Marvel releases. The reveal of Kurt Russell as “Ego”, Starlord/Peter Quill’s (Christ Pratt) father was one that personally irritated me greatly. Gunn’s promise that this reveal really wouldn’t diminish the enjoyment of the film wasn’t just an idle platitude. There are some profoundly unexpected turns and plot arcs that one cannot possibly foresee. The cameos alone and delivery on long thought fan theories are given due homage. So very much gets done with GOTG II.

The opening sequence was just friggin’ zany including the ‘sound track’ and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) madness that ensued. I won’t lie, the opening sequence had me a little concerned as it seemed too mad cap and over the top. Dave Bautista’s “Drax” however sells the scene and is one of the strongest components of this latest run. While the first film was a launching point, the sequel wasn’t just pure ‘bigger, badder’; there was an ample amount of character development for all the major players. Michael Rooker’s “Yondu” gets an exceptional arc including his being drummed out of the Ravagers by a reworked character Stakar Orgood/Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone). Yondu gets a great character exploration in this run, including his connecting with equally unpleasant, by times, Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Yondu’s relationship with Quill gets a thorough examination which has powerful emotional impact. Rocket gets even more screen time with this run and while most of it is for laughs, there are an able amount of deeper moments. His skill and tactical brilliance are presented with a flourish particularly with a fantastic visual sequence, one of many, in which he takes on a horde of Ravagers, led by the terribly named “Taserface” (Chris Sullivan). The new leader of the Ravagers’ name leads to a volley of humorous sequences including some excellent riffing on the part of Rocket.

Humor abounds in this film and how can it not when you have a baby sentient tree, a crafty raccoon and a host of alien life forms both coming together and warring with one another throughout? In GOTG II, Rocket banks off Drax whose once purely literal personality has evolved somewhat to be more playful…and by time funnily mean. His interactions with new addition Mantis (Pom Klementieff) resonate as she is a true innocent whose empathetic ways and abilities naturally have her gravitate toward someone equally innocent..if brutally honest. Even a seemingly heartfelt moment between Drax and Mantis near the end is spared from becoming cornball. We don’t need to be spoon fed that at heart, the GOTG are social misfits nor do we need to be shown that they are ultimately good and noble individuals.

Kurt Russell as EGO was pretty damn spectacular. From inception, using the stellar de-aging technique used so terrifically with Robert Downey in Civil War and Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, a youthful, exuberant version of him driving around in 1980s America with Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) was smile inducing. The music that informed GOTG is an even greater presence in this sequel covering such far reaching ground as Fleetwood Mac to Sam Cooke with tons in between. Music even frames the connection between Peter Quill and his father. He uses it to reach out and explain his actions when tasked as to why he left Meredith to die. The moments between the two including a surreal game of “catch” attain the sense of wonder they reach for. The planet itself and the inevitable presentation of Ego’s pure form are mind blowing-ly surreal, hearkening to the psychedelic brilliance of Dr. Strange…but on a grander scale. Revelations regarding Ego occur effortlessly but by their end still manage to shock and surprise.

Nebula (Karen Gillan) is given a terrific arc which in one fell swoop transforms her from trope-ish psychotic villain to something far more profound. The relationship between she and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is informed by pain and the prep work to make Thanos and even more horrible adversary gains further traction with this movie. Getting a deservedly expanded role as well is Kraglan (Sean Gunn) who proves more than a mere thief. His moments with Yondu examine the relationship between both men moving it forward from simply captain and subordinate.

Honestly, there is simply so much going on and for ‘Easter Eggs’ alone, the film warrants a second look…which it will certainly obtain from me. While the epic space battles and reality jumping moments soundly delivered, in one area this film did fall flat. This lapse occurs in the form and performance of Elisabeth Debicki’s “Ayesha/Sovereign”. Channeling the exact same performance and character from “Man from U.N.C.L.E., she literally brought nothing new to the MCU. The criticism often put forth about Marvel’s bland or one off villains takes root with her. The “Gold-ness” of Ayesha and her people was bland considering all the eye popping visuals and events that ran rampant through this film. It very much seemed to me that her main purpose was nicely encapsulated in a final post credit scene.

Speaking of which…there are 5 post credit scenes, all of which show something of merit. Even the end credits are presented with sight gags and bombast. I have no doubt I missed some cameo appearances. I realize that some many might say “it wasn’t as good as the first” but such a criticism is expected. GOTG is no longer new, but it is still very fresh, wild, exciting and presents the notion with aplomb that things are just getting started. GOTG Vol. II was simply outstanding and well, well worth your time.

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