Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Warning: there will be spoilers in this post.

This weekend, the family of El went forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It was an entertaining romp filled with humor and action. After a prologue on Earth set 34 years in the past with Peter’s mom and his dad singing along with Brandy by Looking Glass, we jump back to the future with the Guardians in battle with a tentacled space monster to the music of Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra and too cute for words dancing by baby Groot in the foreground.  This is the absurdist humor that informs most of the film. 

The Guardians are tasked with protecting a power source used by a race of golden skinned snobs known as the Sovereign.  Part of their payment is the release of Gamora’s psychopathic cyborg sister Nebula to Gamora’s custody.  Of course Rocket can’t help himself and helps himself to some batteries from the Sovereign’s power source.  The Sovereign do not take kindly to this affront and send a shit ton of ships after the Guardians. After an epic and dangerous chase, the guardians give the Sovereign the slip but not without sustaining a lot of damage, crashing into a planet. It’s here that the Guardians are found by Ego and his companion Mantis. 

Ego is Peter Quill’s dad. So that’s a thing that happens.

While Rocket stays behind with Baby Groot & Nebula to work on the ship, Peter, Gamora & Drax accompany Ego and Mantis back to Ego’s planet. 

More to the point, Ego IS the planet; the human dude conversing with everyone and fathered Peter is a creation of Ego to explore and interact with the universe. This humanoid form is essentially immortal as long as Ego remains in contact with the light at the center of his planet-self. Peter actually has access to that same power. Ego just wants to be a dad to Peter and have someone like him to explore the universe with. 

But Gamora thinks something is up, that all this is too good to be true.

That’s because it is. 

Ego thinks the universe is a disappointment. It’s his purpose to fix it, the make it all to fit his view, his perspective, his image. And to do this, he needs Peter. 

So Ego wants to replace the universe with HIS universe which may not sit well with the folks who like the universe as is just fine. And Ego's plans don't sit well with Peter quill, especially after Ego cops to putting the brain cancer tumor in Peter's mom. AND then smashes Peter's Walkman. 

Maniacal power mad villains of god-like power always go one or two steps too far. Smashing a man's Walkman? Really! 

Oh and the tumor thing. Not cool, Ego. Most not cool.  

Also not cool is Yondu's life. The gang of Ravagers he leads have decided that after recent events where Yondu was tricked by Peter and Yondu didn't kill him for it, their leader has gone soft and stage a mutiny. This is after the gang has captured Rocket & Groot; Yondu was hired by the Sovereign to bring in the Guardians. Nebula strikes a deal with the Ravagers and heads off on her own to find Ganora and finally beat her green skinned bitch of a sister at something. (Nebula has issues.) 

Yondu regains control of his arrow and decimates his treacherous crew. Gone soft, huh?  

So Nebula arrives at the Ego Planet and gets into a serious smackdown with Gamora. Then Yondu, Rocket & Groot show up, just in time to lend a hand because it's Pop V. Kid Time as Ego the Living Planet goes mano-a-mano with Peter Quill, Starlord. Rocket puts together a bomb using the stolen Sovereign batteries but to get it to the planet's core will take a little help. 

From Baby Groot. 

Oh we're so doomed. 

Oh and while Ego is going bat-shit crazy and unleashing hell, the Sovereign's drones show up again to add to the crazy.  

Meanwhile Baby Groot actually gets the bomb in position and actually hits the right button. Well, the left button which arms the bomb and sets a five minute timer. The button on the right sets off the bomb immediately. The right button is the wrong button.

No wonder Baby Groot was confused at first. 

But he does hit the left button which is the right button (everybody got that) and everybody gets away. 

Except Peter.

But Yondu ain't having none of that. He plucks Peter from the exploding planet and zips him into space. But Yondu only has a protective suit for one person. He puts it on Peter. 

Ego may have been Peter's father but he wasn't his dad.

That was Yondu's job. And he proves it by sacrificing his life to save Peter.  

Whoa. Heavy.  

I won't try to compare Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to the first film from 2014. It delivers laughs and thrills and heart in a heady, entertaining mix. If Vol. 2 lacks in any way, the film leans a bit too heavily on certain characteristics that made us laugh in the first film. Drax's cluelessness is not as charming; in his interactions with Mantis, he's not very likeable. Peter, Gamora and the others are used to Drax's lack of nuance; dear sweet newcomer Mantis seems quite hurt by it.  

And yes, Baby Groot is just too darn cute with his wide Bambi eyes. But does director/writer James Gunn go to that cuteness too often? 

Marvel's movie villains have not always measured up but Kurt Russell as Ego delivers. At first he's warm and endearing; he may be a god but he's a god/dude. But there's an edge to him, even when he's playing up the "dad" role to Peter. And when the facade drops, Kurt chews up the scenery. 

Yeah, the movie ends with Ego dead. But he's a celestial consciousness that became a planet that became a god in human form. How completely can such an entity be dead? 

The surprising character arc comes from Yondu. I enjoyed Michael Rooker's take on the character in the first film but in Vol. 2, we get a deeper look into what makes Yondu tick. And Yondu gets to be a major bad ass with his telekinetic arrow, especially when he takes out his mutinous crew.

Yondu is not an easy person to love but by the end of the movie, he's impossible to hate. His sacrifice to save Peter's life is a most heart wrenching scene. Yondu was tough guy who was tough on everyone who knew him. But when word gets out of Yondu's death, Ravagers gather to pay their respects. It's a gesture that makes Rocket think about his own life and his relationship with his Guardians family.  

The gold skinned Sovereign are an interesting addition to the Guardians mythos. An advanced race that thinks it's better than everyone else, they can't be bothered to touch their feet on another world's soil or even fight there battles directly. For the Sovereigb, war is reduced to a massive viedo game played out by remote control using drones to actually engage their enemies. The rough and tumble Guardians of the Galaxy, the exact opposite of the sleek, sophisticated Sovereign, continually vex these indolent golden snobs. 

It is from this race we may get to see the MCU debut of Marvel's cosmic powerhouse, Adam Warlock, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.   

In the meantime, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may not be great but it is very good. It is a fun time spent at the movies. 


Next up on the blog thing: a look at Free Comic Book Day 2017. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.  

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