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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 16 min.

Release Date: May 5th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: James Gunn Actors: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, Sean Gunn

A

fter the successful outcome of their epic clash against evil in their previous adventure, the self-proclaimed “Guardians of the Galaxy” – comprised of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) – travel from planet to planet, taking up dangerous jobs that will net them copious amounts of both glory and financial gain. When they complete their latest task of eradicating an intergalactic space creature for a civilization known as “The Sovereign,” Rocket unwittingly turns the entire race against the Guardians by stealing some of their proprietary battery packs. The crew’s subsequent hasty retreat finds them stranded on the jungle planet of Berhert, wherein the enigmatic entity Ego (Kurt Russell) confronts them, claiming to be Peter’s long-lost biological father. Desperate to learn of his ancestry, Quill soon becomes entranced by Ego’s promises of parental guidance and to hone newfound abilities drawn from the celestial being’s homeworld. But Ego’s manufactured paradise hides a dark secret – and it’s not long before the Guardians must band together once again to save the universe from an unimaginable threat.

“I can’t believe I fell in love with a spaceman.” This direct sequel starts right up again with the familiar components that made the first film such a critical and commercial success: classic rock ballads, verbal and visual jokes, explosions and firefights, laser blasts and alien combat, and a dancing baby Groot. The colorful look and the extreme levity give this franchise a completely different feel from the more commonplace tone of seriousness and tragedy that plagues the likes of many of competitor DC’s entities (particularly Superman and Batman). It’s a skewed interpretation of superheroes but a welcome one indeed.

“You people have issues.” Here the bickering and the cynicism might go too far, however, as the frequency of insults and jokes becomes so regular that their inclusions are no longer surprises. Every time a character makes some somber comment or revelation, it’s broken up by a gag. This happens so routinely that by the end, it’s entirely anticipated; no sequence of darker drama can exist solely for its gravity, but rather as a setup for yet another punchline. And while the humor can be appreciated for its rare consistency, it lends to a greater sense of invincibility surrounding the characters. No death-defying act generates any palpable suspense; everyone engages in reckless maneuvers because there’s simply no chance that anyone will be injured.

An overdependence on CG and its wirework equivalent is also disappointing, as it makes the already unbelievable stunts appear just that much more phony. Plus, with so many of the environments set in space or on neon-glowing planets (or in quantum asteroid fields), the adventures feel more like embellished sequences from the latest string of space operas than a comic book galaxy. That overuse of computer graphics ties into the convenient way in which every catastrophe and every solution is spontaneously devised. Rocket is the worst offender (in many ways existing solely as a problem-solver for every random predicament), though nearly every role contributes. If a weapon or a bit of advanced technology is necessary for some harebrained escape scheme, Rocket is sure to have just what the group needs, tucked away in his costume. Or he can build it out of leftover parts – some of which aren’t even referenced earlier in the film. Yondu also has a handy way of cobbling together a life-saving device or concocting a defensive weapon on the fly – an arbitrary fix for an arbitrary bind. Yet even if none of the action can be taken too seriously – what with all the insults and japes that serve as counters to enemy fire – and the special effects are as unexplained as the story is self-generated, the general, persistent lightheartedness just might be the best way to digest the inherent absurdity of superhero premises.

– The Massie Twins

 



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