by Dan T. Badger
I originally planned to watch the latest Guardians on Friday with my son. However, duty called him and I had to watch it on Friday alone (in the pathetic section). Fortunately we both returned to the theater the next day. I was able to watch it in both regular screen and IMAX with 3D (more on that later).
It was packed house on Friday and about half full for the Saturday IMAX matinee. Everyone there was excited before the first trailer lit up the screen in both places. The first preview was a newer trailer for Spiderman: Homecoming. Looks like Michael Keaton will have his third go round as a winged costumed character in a superhero movie. I’m in.
Then Immigrant Song came through the speakers to herald the arrival of the trailer Thor: Ragnorak. We have the Hulk, Thor, Loki, Hela, and Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. We also get to see The Executioner. He will be played by Karl Urban. I was hoping for The Mountain.
We also saw the War for the Planet of the Apes. I will be seeing it, but I will have my willing suspension of disbelief tested, I am sure. How can a regular horse hold a heavy ass orangutan like that?
As for the main event, I will keep it as spoiler free as possible. To start, it is a Disney movie and the film has a lot of Disney references and sub-references. Of these, first and foremost are Walt’s last words. Reportedly, they were “Kurt Russell.” Old Walt probably died before he could finish the phrase, “. . . will appear in a major blockbuster with some heavy CGI in the future.” Fans of Snake Plissken, Dexter Riley, and Jungle Boy will enjoy seeing young Kurt in the opening scene. He will always be MacReady in a musical to me.
Speaking of music, the soundtrack is a major part of what makes this one so much fun. Every instance of the practical music enhances the scene it is used in. Fleetwood Mac, ELO, Looking Glass and Cat Stevens all contribute. Chicago area residents may actually have a joygasm when they are told about a road that exists in their hometown. Given the way the plot develops, I was hoping for some Harry Chapin, but I will have to wait for an intergalactic story about a taxi driver turned musician, because this story about families did not include the best ballad about fathers missing opportunities to be fathers.
That horrible deficiency aside, this is an enjoyable story about families. In the 70’s Francis Ford Coppola combined two great American film archetypes: Crime and Family to make The Godfather.
In our modern times we still love crime stories, but we also love technology and science fiction. We have also embraced non-traditional families and more than ever have focused on the idea that the strength of the relationship is not always based on biology. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, could be subtitled “Peter Has Two Daddies.” It is a nice blend and updating of the two genres.
In between fighting Lovecraftian monsters, Sovereign citizens (really), and each other, the characters develop. The relationships between the various team members as well as the supporting characters are explored. At times, it is like watching The Hangover, but all the cast members take turns being Alan. Understandable, but stupid, decisions happen frequently. They split up, bicker, reconcile, and shoot things. Bizarre alliances form a couple of times during the film. Each one of these changes moves things forward and tells us a little more. We get resolution of every major point or conflict by the end. Even when it gets slow for a while – the buildup and stay on the destination planet could have been a little faster, for example – the film shifts quickly back to the meaty parts.
The creators also poke fun at the media in general and the parent company in particular. I have to think the overuse of slow walking to music was deliberate to make fun of that trope. The same holds true for the many examples of setup/payoff for the various gags and jokes. Overwhelmingly they work. The running gag of one character’s idiotic name is funny each time. Groot’s language barrier is also amusing throughout. The crown jewel in these efforts concerns Gamora’s difficulty in recalling the name of one of Starlord’s role models, Zardu.
There were several nods and winks at the Disney empire as well. One is not even disguised, but a straight up reference. It is entertaining and verbalizes what most people of a certain age were thinking. We get a Hall of Presidents-style explanation of back story complete with Epcot inspired eggs as the medium. One set up for a big shoot ’em up escape scene takes a lot from the pirates in Peter Pan. The bad guys are militantly dedicated to their own idiocy. So much so that I half expected them to turn into donkeys (another movie, I know). The stupid doesn’t stop with the bad guys. We also see Drax take on the role of an incompetent teacher for someone who is even more inept at social interaction than he is. He is also there for the dick and poop jokes.
There are subplots and several Easter eggs. One subplot explores the similarities and kinship between one major character and one minor one. When this part of the cast is travelling, pay attention to the smash cuts. One may signal a Thor: Ragnorak setup and one may or may not confirm a fan theory. You just have to Watch. The redemption subplot comes complete with an unexpected face and has nods to the original members of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics by the time it is resolved.
The drawbacks to this entry are few. As I said earlier, it drags a little. The Nebula subplot is a little forced. The Sovereigns are more worthy of mockery than fear. However, in the end it comes together nicely.
We also get a lot of Baby Groot.
He is really fun to watch with whoever he interacts with. The scenes leading up to his quest mission and the ones of how he executes it are some of the funniest moments in the MCU.
All in all, this film is worth your money. This is not the best Marvel movie, but it is definitely the funniest (Deadpool is dangerously close in the humor derby). It was fun on IMAX with the incredible sound, but you don’t need 3D. It didn’t add anything.
And keep your ass in the seat until the screen goes dark. You will get 4 post credit scenes. Three funny and one set up. Enjoy.