Friday, 19 May 2017

Film Review No. 24 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (12+)

Strong Points:
Develops the characters
The opening sequence
Easter eggs and 80's references
Very funny
Twists and turns
Stan Lee's cameos
Unexpected emotional depth and development...

Weak Points:
The sheer amount of jokes launched at you can be overwhelming
Sylvester Stallone is underused
Less focused than the original
The Sovereign become annoying
...with some working better than others
Some bits were slightly too gory

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
Note before I begin: I'm not going to be comparing the 'freshness' of the comedy or characters to that of the first film. They're both good in their own right and this film couldn't have worked without the original (it is a sequel after all) so saying that it would've been better if the first film didn't exist is counter-intuitive.

To the tune of Mr Blue Sky, we had one of the more original and inventive 'Big Boss' action sequences in recent memory - namely, they didn't focus on it. Instead, the action was moved to the background and the forefront was Baby Groot, one of the stars of the film (and key merchandise), dancing to the song and chasing a butterfly. This sequence perfectly encapsulates the film, its themes and it's atmosphere and was one of my favourite parts of the film. One note though: Drax cutting through the giant squid monster from the inside seemed a bit gorier than needed even compared to a flying stick that we see flying through chests of people and a thumb being cut off by Baby Groot.

The humour of the film is one of the main attractions and wow is it funny, getting laugh out loud moments from me all the way through the runtime, even if by halfway through I felt exhausted due to how much was being thrown my way. Most of the humour hits its mark as well and is varied from slapstick to character jokes and pop culture references (which we'll get to). Comment below your favourite jokes! (I think mine is either David Hasselhoff's cameo or something with Drax/Groot).

But it's not all laughs and games as we also got a quite decent character development for the main characters with special mention to the writing of Rocket and Yondu as it made me empathise with the two characters who have the most 'questionable' actions out of them all and who were originally (especially Yondu) a bit one note.

Less effective but still good was Nebula's, Gamora's half-sister, development, changing her from a killer assassin to someone who just wanted her sister, culminating in a great piece of dialogue whereby Nebula explains why she is a cyborg (Thanos did it in order to make her strong enough to beat Gamora but she never did), as well as developing Thanos's character which I was worried wouldn't have the oomph it needed when he was finally revealed as he had started to become just an immobile statue (I can now say he is just plain evil).

At the bottom end of the scale, we had Drax who basically turned into the character trait in the first film where he took everything literally. I like both versions of Drax a lot, which is why I'm willing to let this transformation slide but I think they should've stuck to either or - either originally have this literalness as his defining character trait instead of revenge or don't exaggerate it as much.

The action scenes in GOTG V2 were all very well choreographed, with Rocket's trap fight and Yondu's whistling through the TV screens being particular highlights. With the increased scope that Quill's Celestial energy gave him and the film we also had a great 'boss' fight in the form of Quill versus Ego, or should I say Pac-Man versus Ego as was one of Star-Lords transformations (a great little reference).

Talking about references, we had a lot of them. From Zune jokes and The Awesome Mix Volume 2 to Howard the Duck and an awesome David Hasselhoff cameo, we were treated to a lot (don't worry though, you can still enjoy the film without knowing all the references). We also had a Stan Lee cameo as talking to The Watcher, who if you don't know, is a character in Marvel who watches over the Universe, but now allowing himself to get involved. Does this mean Stan Lee is an all powerful being as well? (he was in space suddenly after all). I think it would be great if Stan Lee turned out to be pulling at least some of the strings or for his many, many cameos to be inter-connected in some way, which due to this one could well be a possibility.

Right, if we ignore the fact that Ego, the Celestial, said he wanted to be human and not some other alien, he's a pretty good character. Set up to begin with as good, I felt a sense of 'there's something not quite right here' throughout the film and when he slowly revealed his plans it was a good revelation, even if it took me a while to remember he's not human, and he doesn't have human feelings (Kurt Russel's casual tone when he revealed he put the tumour inside Quill's mother was chilling). The Sovereign started out all right and the idea of them playing a video game when flying the ships was great and kept in tone with the film well, but I think they overstayed their welcome a bit. Finally, Stallone was in the film's main credits and was in around 3 scenes. He was good in it, and I guess they could say he was an eighty's reference, but I expected more.

I think the main problem with this film was that compared to the first film it's less laser-focused in its narrative, with more characters vying for the spotlight and the attention of the audience being thrown left, right and centre. It's not a bad thing that the film tried to get as much stuff in as possible, most of it worked, but it did hinder the films memorability - I can't promote particular scenes as much as particular gags due to the fast-paced nature of them all - they didn't stay with one joke or set piece for long before we were thrown to the next one.

Conclusion: overall, a nice addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy series and MCU franchise as a whole and probably the most packed with jokes and laughs out of them all to its benefit and detriment.

Rating: 84%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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