Saturday, May 6, 2017

In Theatres: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)

The central theme of "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" may very well be family.

The core members of the Guardians consider themselves a family. Then, you have the issues between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her adopted sister, Nebula. In the first film, both seemed to have same goal, to kill their father, Thanos. This time, as was the case in the animated series, Nebula is also out for Gamora's blood, her past failures resulting in Thanos turning her into a cyborg, piece by piece.

And, then, there is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, and his quest to find his father. Oh, is he in for a shock.

You see, the writers decided to discard what had been comics canon, and mess with theology. That is to say, Quill's mom ended up in a union with the embodiment of Ego, the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). In a way, it's a back-handed jab at the Biblical birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary. Ego adopted human form, came to earth, found a mate, etc., except that, as he explains himself in the course of the movie, he only returned to earth three more times because he needed to return home to replenish his energies. Contrived? You bet. It does, though, explain away how Yondu ended up raising Peter himself, instead of carrying out the assignment to deliver Peter to Ego years ago.

Russell was de-aged via a mix of makeup and CGI for the flashback in the beginning of the movie.

Yondu (Michael Rooker) has his own issues, though, as the Ravagers have betrayed him, and he's been exiled. That doesn't sit well with Stakar (Sylvester Stallone), who disowns Yondu himself.

Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) has to tend to Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), who now serves as more of a connecting line for the little ones because of his naivete and innocence, although he begins to mature as the movie progresses. The subplot of a romantic link between Gamora & Peter continues, although in between movies, Marvel thought they were being cute by marrying Peter off to the X-Men's Kitty Pryde, or at least a version of same, for a time. Since they can't use Kitty in these movies.....! Meanwhile, Drax (Dave Bautista, "Spectre") opens up and reveals some personality, although his idea of humor is a little ill-timed. Still, he does seem to find a kindred spirit in Ego's "pet", Mantis, an empath who looks the same as she did in the comics dating back to the 70's, still naive to other customs, but fits in with Ego about as well as a pickle in a martini. You know, like a square peg in a round hole.

Check out this trailer:

Fortunately for Groot fans, he's fully grown in the cartoon.

Other trailers:

"The Book of Henry" (June): Naomi Watts is a parent whose 11 year old son fears his next door neighbor/prospective girlfriend is being abused by her father, the police commissioner. Creepy.

"The Mummy" (June 9): Universal reboots the franchise again, this time with Tom Cruise pursuing a female mummy, this after he's been raised from the dead himself. Only a hardcore Tom Cruise fan (How many of those are left?) would want this.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (December). That brand sells itself.

"Thor: Ragnarok" (November): Chris Hemsworth returns as the Thunder God, who now is forced to battle the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) on a strange world. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki.

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" (July 7): Tom Holland's first headline gig as the web-spinner pits him against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his high tech wings. With Robert Downey, Jr. returning as Iron Man.

Back to discussing the movie. There's a cameo in-film this time by Howard the Duck (Seth Green, Family Guy, Robot Chicken), the obligatory appearance by Stan Lee, this time with some Watchers, and a look at what was in comics the original Guardians of the Galaxy (Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Michael Rosenbaum). In the books, Yondu was part of this group, which marks its 50th anniversary next year. Plus, an uncredited voice cameo by singer-actress Miley Cyrus (keep an ear for it). Of course, there's a swinging soundtrack, loaded with music from the 60's (Sam Cooke) and the 70's (Fleetwood Mac, Looking Glass, Cheap Trick, The Sweet), plus a more up-to-date number that features 80's icon David Hasselhoff.

In all, a wilder thrill ride than the first film, and funnier, too.

Rating: A.

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