When Less Is More

This is going to be a post about GUARDIAN’S OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 so there will be SPOILERS!!!!!  SPOILERS!!!!!  SPOILERS!!!!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

 

 

I like most of the Marvel movies.  I really liked the first Guardians movie.  I liked Ant Man.  I adored the first two acts of Captain America: The First Avenger.  I liked Thor because of the fascinating family dynamic and charismatic villain.  The first Iron Man film.  Winter Soldier.  Are you starting to see a pattern here?  What I like are movies that don’t lose sight of their characters and their themes in a dizzying kaleidoscope of special effect and CGI battles.

Which meant I had high hopes for the latest Guardians movie.  I had been waiting eagerly for this film.  And when it was all over I felt let down.  I’m not saying the movie was bad.  It wasn’t especially when you consider that the bar had been set so low that it was practically underground by Batman versus Superman and X Men: Apocalypse, but this lacked the authenticity and kindness of the first Guardians movie.

Yes there was humor though some of it felt forced as it was squeezed between CGI spectacles.  There were a lot of characters and subplots that didn’t seem to go anywhere except to set up the next movie and since I haven’t read all these comics I had no idea of the significance.  Case in point — Yondu being thrown out of the Ravager clubhouse because of Quill.  I’m not sure what it added.  I think we could have had the Ravagers show up for the funeral without that first scene.  Did those batteries Rocket stole ever actually ever pay off?  I think they might have been part of the big kaboom at the end that killed Ego’s planet, but by that point I was sort of numb from all the CGI to be sure.

Just because the technology allows you to design and code these bloated sequences doesn’t mean you should.  Contrast all the computer wizardry in this film with the initial fight sequence in the first film between Gamora and Quill with Rocket and Groot orbiting on the outskirts as they try to capture Quill.  And then there is that the gonzo, totally fun escape from the Nova Corps prison.  Those were joyful, comedic, exciting and interesting sequences in the way a great Jackie Chan fight sequence just leaves you wanting to pump the air and dance.

This second film also hit one of my buttons.  I understand these are superheroes or aliens with strange physiologies, but there is a point where the punishment being meted out to the characters makes me go “Oh Come On.  Every bone in their body is now broken and no, you can’t outrun a massive explosion.”  And in that moment I have been kicked out of the movie and it has failed to transport me out of my own humdrum world and into this cinematic adventure.

I wanted more of Peter talking about growing up without a father.  The whole David Hasselhoff riff was terrific.  I would rather have had one less pointless space battle with the gold people who sounded like a bunch of valley girls and boys and seen more of Ego with Peter’s mom.  Drak seemed schizophrenic vibrating between outburst of wild laughter and making remarks that hit me as more cruel than funny.  There was a moment where Mantis finally touches the pain that Drak carries and it felt like this was a moment that mattered, but then it was gone in the blink of an eye.

Quill comes out pretty well in this installment.  Baby Groot was cute.  I felt like Rocket and Gamora were the most short changed.  The two characters that were far and away the most interesting were Nebula and Yondu.  Their storylines actually addressed issues of loneliness, loss, fathers and sons, sisters, jealousy, rejection, the inability to speak honestly and emotionally to the people in your life.  Throughout the film there were questions about the human condition and the human heart in conflict with itself that had meaning and then another giant CGI action sequence would stomp through and crush them.

 

If you don’t have a story and a theme underlying that story no amount of effects is going to make up the deficit.  People are hungry for stories that tell us something about ourselves, illuminate deeper questions.  If all they get is spectacle they will go away unsatisfied and empty, and the real shame here is that there was a story with heart at the core of this movie that got lost under all the frenetic action.

One Response to When Less Is More

  • Georgino ludwig says:

    The ravenger group he was tossed out of according to the comics were the original Guardians of the galaxy. They were each the last of their races living in the 31st century. Where most the universe had been destroyed or conquered by two separate wars. Un 5he comics they had traveled back to modern times in an effort to find a way to stop the coming wars before they happened. Yes in the movies they are presented ad thieves. But I’m willing to bet that the code they speak of has more to do with their true purpose.

    Yes the batteries at least two of them were used in the bomb that killed ego.

    The inherent problem is the nature of specttical in the comics the action and story are spread out over a longer period of time, both publication time and story time.like sherlock each movie has to tell a story but because it takes so long between movies it has to also be a spectical. I think the title Vol 2 is actually quite tellong. Like saying act 2 of a play.

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