Back in 2014, Marvel Studios released Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that introduced a relatively unknown group of cosmic vigilantes/mercenaries into their Marvel Cinematic Universe. To this day, the original Guardians is still my favorite Marvel movie with The Winter Soldier (2014) and Civil War (2016, click here to read my review on it) being close seconds. The reason the original Guardians worked so well is because it was an origin story that didn’t need any of the extra bullcrap that typically comes with an origin story. Lately, it would seem that everyone feels obligated to remake superhero origin stories, but there really is no need unless you are trying to take the hero in a new direction. This is part of the reason why there are very few people who enjoy the Zac Snyder films (Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman); nobody cares to see those heroes’ origins because they already know them. Where Guardians stands out is not only in the fact that nobody knows their origin, but that they don’t need an origin story. The film opens by introducing the characters; none of them are ordinary people that are suddenly gifted with superhuman abilities, and none of them are trained by some ancient fighting guru. Guardians breaks down this stupid idea that superheros are normal people just like us, so it doesn’t begin its story by trying to prove that to its audience. The Guardians are different from the rest of the Marvel heroes because they simply are the Guardians.
Another thing that Guardians does well for itself is be an action movie where the action takes backseat to not only character, but humor. Make no mistake, my firends, this film is a comedy movie that just happens to have some action scenes interspersed here and there. Guardians took its well developed characters and let the humor naturally form throughout the film. Almost none of the jokes in this film are forced like the ones you might see in an Avengers movie.
Anyway, we’re here to talk about the new film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, are we not? Let’s stop talking about the original and see if James Gunn and company could reproduce all those things that made the first one such a stand out Marvel movie.
As you can probably see, right off the bat, the answer to that question is going to be no; James Gunn could not reproduce the magic. In fact, this movie seems to fill in that gap that Disney must have seen from the first one that nobody asked them to fill! At least I didn’t, and I hope you didn’t either. It’s almost as if an executive approached James one afternoon and said, “Hey, James, people really love that one movie you did. But, me and the guys upstairs couldn’t help but notice that it was… lacking something… something like, uhh… OH! I know! An origin story! Yeah, would you mind cookin one of those bad boys up for us? Thanks, kiddo, you da best.”
It makes me wanna buy a Mickey Mouse doll and let my dogs go to town on it. Seriously, at this point, I’m giving up on any franchise that itsn’t independently owned. We will never get more than 1 or 2 good movies from any franchise as long as these studios keep churning out these cookie-cutter stories and slapping a nice fresh franchise label on them.
Anyway, let’s get into some specifics to keep me from rambling any further. If you haven’t seen the film yet, then here’s a fair warning that the rest of the this section [MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS], but they’re really not that important so I wouldn’t warry too much.
The first scene left a bad taste in my mouth. It features Baby Groot, who thankfully was spared from becoming this franchise’s “Minion” (I hope, only the future will tell), dancing in front of the camera for nearly five minutes straight.
The movie then introduces us to the natives of Washington DC, also known as “The Sovereign,” who are a bunch of gold-skinned assholes that execute people for slander. The first scene featuring these characters was decently funny, especially when we were first shown their “Galleria” of warships. Unfortunately, the film persists in bringing these worthless characters back to the screen and ultimately drawing out the film’s runtime. You know you’ve created a useless timewaster of an army when everytime they show up, they are completely destroyed in one hit from some superweapon.
Then, we meet Mr. Quill, AKA Ego. With a name like that, one can only assume that he is probably the film’s antagonist. Of course, the movie is going to insult your intellegence and act like Ego is totally not the villain until he finally drops the truth on Peter and shows his true self. This is the main story-arc of the film, yet it takes an hour and a half to get through. How was that made possible? I’ll tell ya how: this story’s awful sense of pacing is how. Cliches aside, this film might have been better had it simply let the story naturally progress instead of trying to build up to all these emotional moments that nobody cares about. These are the types of things that make origin stories bad, and this film is no exception even if there are a lot of people that will argue with me about this movie being an “origin story.”
It’d be hard for these actors to drop in the quality of their performance after doing such a great job in the original movie, but it has happened before (cough Jennifer Lawrence cough). Nobody does worse. In fact, some of this film’s minor characters tend to steal the spotlight in a couple of important scenes. Most noteably: Michael Rooker, Chris Sullivan, and Sean Gunn.
One thing this film does improve on are the visual aspects of the film. The use of color make this film a great movie to watch strictly for its visuals. During those moments when the story seems lacking, I’d recommend trying to ignore whatever bullshit is happening and simply enjoy the view.
As discussed in our Quickflick episode, the music choices were fine, though maybe not entirely up to par with the original film. However, this film does not implement these songs as cleverly as the original did, so I’m going to be taking points off.
X-Factor: 8/10, Mary Poppins Cameo
Vol. 2 does everything wrong that the original film did right. Is it a terrible movie? No, it’s worth seeing if you are a Marvel movie fan. For the rest of us though, this film shows that even the one franchise that stood out isn’t safe from being dragged into the mediocre formula that Disney insists on perscribing every Marvel film.