“Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2” – In Review

Review, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” — ** stars (out of ****)

Released May 5, 2017
Written and Directed by James Gunn
Cinematography by Henry Braham
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan
Running Time: 136 minutes
Box Office to Date: $659.4 million

Greetings, Earth scum.

You’re going to love this sequel to Marvel’s 2014 sci-fi smash “Guardians of the Galaxy,” because it’s going to beat you over the head until you think you do. I mean this movie has everything you like, or that Hollywood’s top execs now think crowds like. “Alt” comic book movies. Not to be confused with “Alt-Right” comic book movies where Captain America is actually a Nazi spy.  To avoid spoilers, I can basically sum this movie up as “Escape from New York Los Angeles Ego.” The Guardians get trapped on a dangerous planet, called Ego, and have to rely on Snake Plissken himself, plus a “triangle face monkey” and a stellar soundtrack to survive.

Sure, I get it.  That’s their MO. This superhero “isn’t like” other superhero movies. It has the predictable will-they-or-won’t-they romantic pseudo-plot line, but hey, this time, the girl (Zoe Saldana) is green! I mean yes, Star Lord (Chris Pratt) has daddy issues, but his dad is Kurt Russell and some sort of demi-god. But they have jokes! It’s good because they have jokes right?

This movie’s first mistake was overestimating the audience’s love for Baby Groot (voiced by the inimitable Vin Diesel). Sure he’s cute, but so is Chris Pratt and I’m willing to bet that BG got more screen time than our dear Star Lord. The first sign of this troubling screen time disparity was the opening scene. It features our intergalactic “Suicide Squad” battling for batteries, and is completely shown from the perspective of an oblivious Baby Groot. Sure, it was cute…for the first minute of it, but like many of the jokes in the film, “GOGV2” doesn’t know when its over. By the 3:37 mark  I was ready to tell my date to wake me up when the sequence was over and people with actual speaking capabilities were back on screen. The most unfortunate thing is that without Baby Groot, there wouldn’t have been a movie (he saves two of our heroes from imprisonment and has the largest role in defeating our movie’s villain).

The biggest issue with the comedic writing in “GOGV2” is that it’s too self-aware. It reminded this viewer of unloved box office champs like “Suicide Squad.” Films too busy high-fiving themselves for being “edgy” without possessing much substance. Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), spends over two minutes laughing because a character is named “Taser Face,” but the audience was dead silent. It was during these kinds of self-congratulatory moments that the film dragged, and the bloated two-hour, ten-minute run time was felt.

Sure there were some redeeming moments. Like when Yondu (Michael Rooker) does something pretty heroic — oh, but, like, I don’t want to spoil anything for yew. Orrr when Gamora (Saldana), the green babe, and Nebula (Karen Gillan), the blue babe, move past their mutually abusive childhoods and team up in the finale.

Despite all of these wins, this movie steal left the bitter taste of a cash grab in my mouth. Perhaps it should’ve been called “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: Deadpool Did It Better.”

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