If you're anything like me (and good luck to you, if you are!) then you probably didn't quite "get" the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I distinctly remember walking out of the theatre feeling somewhat underwhelmed. In fact I wrote a very strongly worded blog post about it, calling it "meh". If you're up late some night because you're having trouble falling asleep, feel free to jump over and take a look-see.
But one thing about me is that my opinions of these things tend to evolve over time. While I was initially less than thrilled after that first viewing, I think part of it stemmed from the fact that I was comparing the movie to other Marvel franchise blockbusters and truly did not understand what Guardians was attempting to do. After watching it a couple more times (Thank you, Netflix!) I've developed a much deeper appreciation for the ragtag group of misfits who seem to save the galaxy almost by accident. My initial rating of meh translated to a 6.5 ... something that I now think I would easily upgrade to an 8 or 8.5. It hasn't become my favourite movie, but it's certainly better than I gave it credit for in that review.
And that brings us to the second instalment ... Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Let's be clear here... Sometimes I write about movies and leave out spoilers. Sometimes I spoil the shit out of them. This is one of the latter. So please... if you intend to watch this movie, please stop reading. Maybe bookmark this page and come back to it later. Or not. It's up to you.
I remember the trailer I saw for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 where they spoiled the fact that Kurt Russell was playing the role of Peter Quill's father. I remember thinking "Was that really necessary? Did they have to do that?" I wasn't alone. One of my co-workers was pissed when he watched it. Apparently he felt the same way, although he was much more vocal with his displeasure. We felt that Peter's father certainly didn't need to be introduced in such an obvious manner in a movie trailer.
But when you watch the movie, you'll see that it doesn't take long for this factoid to be presented. It's clear from the very beginning who Peter's father is - so much so, that you quickly realize that they weren't spoiling anything. The real story isn't the family reunion, but what happens next. And true to Marvel magic, they deliver a de-aged Kurt Russell for the flashback scenes that is incredible. If you're even a little curious how they managed that in this movie (the process is different from previous Marvel de-agings) then I suggest taking a look at this article in the Washington Post.
Remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach while watching the first Guardians movie that the music was an absolutely perfect fit to what was happening on screen? Well you can forget about that in the second instalment. Unlike most movie soundtracks, the music in Guardians of the Galaxy is central to the storyline. The mixed tape Peter's mother gives him before she dies is part of who he becomes. The choice is songs is vital, and with few exceptions they knock it out of the park.
So what the hell happened in the sequel? Yes, there's a new tape, but I couldn't tell you a single track on it. Most of the songs were completely unknown to me, and nothing seemed to "fit" in the way that the first one did. And if you're thinking "Who cares? It's just music." you're wrong. In a movie like this, that soundtrack is essentially another Guardian. It's just as important as any of the other characters, and this time... it was a real letdown.
We all knew that Baby Groot was going to steal every scene he appeared in. This was one part of the movie that did not disappoint. More Groot, I say!
It seems that every Marvel character deserves a seat in group therapy. Whether it's daddy issues, sister issues, or genetically modified lab rat issues... boo hoo... when they're not fighting they're going through some tragic backstory. Can't anyone just be a superhero anymore?
Marvel spares no expense when it comes to fighting scenes! Every movie is one part acting, 2 parts post-production wizardry. The opening scene alone is an incredible battle... with your first taste of shitty soundtrack music and adorable Baby Groot stealing the show. My only criticism (and this goes for every single Marvel movie that I can think of... and more than a few non-Marvel movies) is that the final climactic battle could easily be shortened. I find these movies tend to push the boundaries of my rapidly shortening attention span. (And if you're still reading this post, you get what I mean!) Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was 136 mins. That's over 2 hours for anyone who's given up on basic math. I think 100-120 mins is my ultimate sweet spot. Anything more than that had better involve Hobbits. So yes, the graphics are awesome. The fighting is thrilling. But at some point it just becomes tedious.
Have you ever burst out laughing at something only to find that you're the only one in the group who finds it even remotely funny? OK, now amplify that by an entire theatre. I don't know who was responsible for putting it into the film, but when one of the Ravagers hands Peter Quill a Zune MP3 player and says "Everyone on Earth is using these" I lost it. Then I quickly realized that my laughter was the only laughter in the theatre, but didn't care. I'm sure that everyone else was wondering what the idiot down front was finding so hilarious.
For those in need of a little MP3 music player history, the Zune was Microsoft's ill-fated "iPod Killer". It was released in 2006, and was pretty much a flop out of the gate. It was ugly, it was bulky, and their take on the navigation wheel was something that LOOKED like Apple's, but you couldn't slide your thumb along the wheel - you had to click. Sounds like a minor thing until you compare the two and see how Apple's design team had perfected what Microsoft could only dream of. After dismal sales, and laughable reviews, the Zune was retired in 2012. And Apple? I think you know how they're doing. Love them or hate them, they certainly destroyed Microsoft's attempt at entering the personal music space.
Oh... and word is... Microsoft wasn't thrilled to see the movie's nod to their poor Zune... R.I.P.
I feel like I've been writing an essay and need to find some way of wrapping up this rant. So... in conclusion... just kidding... Seriously though folks... the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy isn't a horrible movie. As of this writing, it's brought in over $333 million in the USA alone. It's going to continue to make a lot of money, and they're going to continue making more of these. But while the first one was a fresh look at a group of lesser-known comic book heroes... the second one... meh... not so much.
It's really missing the Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga...
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