The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

 The misfit gang of accidental universe-savers returns in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 , a very effortful attempt at recapturing the magic of the 2014 original. 

I mean, this movie is working, breaking a sweat, using all its time to clean/never taking time to lean. It’s exhausting.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (David Bautista), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and a tiny Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) are still together, still rocking out to the hits of the 1970s. They work as galaxy-savers for hire, and when the movie opens they are attempting to protect some high-powered batteries from a ferocious thing that we’ll never see again. The batteries, however, will figure into their adventures since Rocket steals a few small ones from this planet full of gold-plated, very persnickety people led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). She sends her fleet after them once she notices the theft, but our heroes are saved by Ego (Kurt Russell). After Quill’s damaged ship has crash-landed (but is out of danger) Ego explains that he is Peter’s long-lost father and has been looking for Peter in all the years since his mother died back on Earth. 
As you’ll recall, Peter was abducted by Yondu (Michael Rooker), who raised him, teaching him to fight and steal. Yondu and, to a greater extent, his crew are still mad about whatever happened between him and Peter in the last movie (I forget, that was so much Marvel universe ago). When Ayesha comes to him to get his help in tracking down the Guardians and the batteries, Yondu agrees to search for him.
For a chunk of the movie, the gang is separated. Peter, Gamora and Drax follow Ego and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ego’s empath/one-woman-entourage, back to Ego’s planet while Rocket, Groot and Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), who is being held prisoner, stay with the ship. Yondu and crew show up looking for Peter and capture the ship-based chunk of the Guardians. But a mutiny by some in the crew soon has Yondu and Rocket working together.
Also, Sylvester Stallone shows up in one of those cameo roles that I’ll have to go to the internet to learn the significance of, there’s some Thanos talk (I forget, is he still a thing?) and a certain duck makes another appearance. There’s also a bunch of stuff that happens in the mid- and post-credits sequences — some of which are cute moments related to this movie; some of which, like, man, life is too short.
Ah, what a Marvel movie through and through — from quips to Easter eggs. 
What’s the opposite of starting strong but not sticking the landing? What if you can consistently stick the landing after stumbling through the preceding 80 percent of movie? Whatever that’s called, Marvel is frequently pretty good at that. I liked the last, say, 30 minutes of this movie but I wish I could have had some of the good will I ended with during the first hour and 45 minutes. 
Though I tried mightily to avoid any early reviews of this movie, I did see a headline on that mentioned “Marvel bloat.” This feels pretty accurate; there is a lot of (do we even need “bloat,” isn’t that just redundant?) Marvel-ing happening in this movie. There’s backstory (some of which I think I’m supposed to remember, some of which may be new), about 30 percent more characters that I can really keep interested in, a central villain whose goal and plan I don’t entirely get (I think it boils down to boredom?), a secondary villain I kept forgetting about and, of course, a lot of quipping and PG-13/middle-school-level insults. I almost feel it’s unfair for me to complain about the quipping, since one of my big problems with DC’s movies (and, indeed, a lot of action movies in general) is how grim and humorless they are. And yet here it feels like “remember how funny the first movie was? We’ve got even more funny in this one! Check out all the funny!” The movie confuses snappy dialogue with joy, and the first movie had a lot of silly joy. Gleeful is how I remember the first movie. Dutiful is how I’ll think about this one.
Which isn’t to say that none of the humor works — there are funny moments. There are moments of cool action. The end is actually kind of stunning for how it pulled together and even made me care and feel feelings despite the fact that an hour earlier I was already losing interest in the movie. 
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tries way too hard to recapture the loose, “B-level characters just goofing” feel of the original but does have its moments of, if not greatness, goodness. B
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive content. Written and directed by James Gunn (based on Marvel comics and characters), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is distributed by Walt Disney Studios and is two hours and 15 minutes long. 


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