Friday, May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

I was not as fond as most people of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. I saw Vol. 2 last night, and while I still wish I had gotten a Farscape movie instead, I think this one is a better film that the first.

In brief, the new movie pits the Guardians against the Goldenskinned authoritarian snobs of the Sovereign (who they ripped off) and Ego the Living Planet (a universe-imperiling threat). It has plenty of action and perhaps even more physical comedy that the first (too many hyperjumps causes cartoonish facial deformation). It manages to give all the characters some story beats and something interesting to do--something that other large cast Marvel films haven't managed as well. In contrast to the first film, the characters are allowed to grow a bit, in contrast to being reduced from their two dimensional comic versions to one dimensional cliched archetypes. Freed from the need to blatantly tie in to a larger Marvel "epic", Vol. 2 gets to more full psychedelic space fantasy, like Farscape if it were a Heavy Metal comic or Star Wars with a dayglo aesthetic and more dick jokes.

There are still some things I didn't like: I have come to the conclusion I just don't care for the Marvel Studios "fantastic" aesthetic. I thought Asgard looked like a Nike commercial version of the Star Wars prequels, and the first Guardians of the Galaxy managed to make Chris Foss inspired designs seem uninteresting. I'm still not sold; it all looks very expensive video for a pop song I don't like, but there are hints this time of a particular philosophy of design that makes the seedy Contraxia and the ostentatious Sovereign throne room work for me better than anything in the first film.

Also, it still seems like dimension hoping more than space travel. Forget Serenity's "into the black;" except for the fact that people dying in the vacuum is a plot point, you could be forgiven for not realizing they were ever in space. Everything is as awash in color, and planets are passed in travel not as planets but as little tableaux or comedy scenes, like the cosmic equivalent of the hapless fruit vendor getting his stand smashed in a car chase. I think colorful, busy design can be but to great purpose (I love Speed Racer) and in sci-fi (like The Fifth Element or the upcoming Valerian), but something about the way Marvel does it rubs me the wrong way.

Oh, and the music cues are omnipresent. Upping the ante from its predecessor (but in line with Suicide Squad) its much like a series of short music videos for classic pop songs. While not as bad as Suicide Squad in this regard, it also has a few that are so on the nose that the movie is sort of narrating itself to you in song (cf. "My Sweet Lord").

Bottom line: If you liked the first one, you will almost certainly like this one. If you were so-so on the first one, you still might like this one.

1 comment:

Venger Satanis said...

As I'm currently overrun with kids, I probably won't be able to see this until it comes out on DVD. But I'm glad the sequel is getting rave reviews!