Movie Review: "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (2017)
I'm about to say something that is guaranteed to produce a reaction among all age groups. Are you ready? You might tell me to shut the fuck up or you may agree with every fiber of your being; you'd be right either way. Here goes.
Not only is the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise the true "tent-pole" of the M.C.U. (sorry, Avengers), but it is more fun and relevant and (dare I say) better than anything we've seen out of Lucasfilm and Star Wars in the last 30 years (Original Trilogy excluded). To be honest, it stands toe-to-toe with the Holy Trilogy.
I'm sorry to say that, because I feel like I just kicked myself in the kid-balls by saying that. I've found things to like about every movie in the Star Wars films of the last 3 decades (even Attack of the Clones), but not one of them clicked on all cylinders like Vol. 2 does. This motherfucker doesn't just hum along....it flat out flies like Superman. I needed to piss like a racehorse ten minutes in, and I never got up to go. I forgot that I needed to.
All of the things they did in the first G.O.T.G. are still there- stellar soundtrack, gorgeous settings, moments of comic brilliance, first-rate action, & a powerfully effective sense of goofiness. The thing that really impressed me is how much more grown up this one is compared to the first.
The sequel has an overarching theme and that is FAMILY. Specifically, it's about the family you're born with versus the one you choose (and that chooses you). That's a theme that literally every person walking the face of the Earth can relate to. We all have our blood family and then we have our "true" family, our "ride or die" family that's always there for you. I'm blessed, personally, to have a great blood family.......but my true peeps are every bit as important and never leave my side. We all know that feeling.
Brilliantly written, G.O.T.G. Volume 2 takes a theme that's personal to everyone and spends 2 hours and 17 minutes walking the fine line between goofy-ass comedy and tear-jerking family drama with some serious aplomb. You'll be amazed at how wet your cheeks stay. Whether you are laughing so hard tears are squirting down your cheeks or you've "got something in your eye" (that's for all you macho assholes that don't cry at movies ha ha ha!!) you will have a reaction that is genuine and powerful.
And you'll have some serious fucking fun, too.
The full cast from before (Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Star Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, & Michael Rooker as Yondu) is back and they've only gotten better and more comfortable in their roles. New to the series are two straight-up O.G.'s in Kurt Russell (as Star Lord's long lost father) and Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord (a Ravager and the father figure to Yondu). Both of these characters take liberties with the source material, but unless you're a hardcore comic nut you will neither notice nor care. I didn't.
The family dynamic and the issues being worked out between Gamora and her cybernetic assassin of a sister, Nebula (Karen Gilan of Doctor Who fame) had far more depth than I thought it would. Star Lord's daddy issues were as heavy as you thought they'd be, but the kinship that develops between Rocket and Yondu really got into my head. I didn't see it coming, and it was a thing of beauty and surprising depth.
The best part for me, though, was how thoroughly Michael Rooker stole the damn movie out from under everyone! I'm a lifelong mark for Rooker thanks to "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer", "Mallrats", "Slither", "The Dark Half", "Days of Thunder", & (of course) "The Walking Dead". He's maybe the most underrated talent in Hollywood. After what he does in this movie he won't be overlooked any longer. I couldn't be happier for him. He's a man who always leaves you with a strong impression.
He surprises you with his parallels with Rocket and he breaks your heart with his true feelings about Peter and the role he's played in the life of Star Lord. He drips range. And he's still a fucking bad ass with his trademark whistle and arrow. It's just so visually satisfying.
It's also pretty damn great to see the new life breathed into Kurt Russell's career in the last few years. He's a note-perfect antagonist in what is actually a very dual role. You know he's searched far and wide for his son. You truly believe he was madly in love with Peter's mother. He's charming and cocky and brash....just like Peter. Still, you can see there's an ulterior motive and you're worried. This is Kurt Russell, after all. We're talking about Snake Plissken, R.J. McReady, Stuntman Mike, Jack Burton, Wyatt Earp. He's a bad son of a bitch, whether good or bad.
I'm a DC guy through and through, but I have to applaud the folks at Marvel Studios and especially writer and director James Gunn (who's a Troma alum, by the way). They've created THIS GENERATION'S STAR WARS.
There, I said it. It feels better getting that out.
It's that rarest of things- a "comic-book movie" that appeals to all demographics and ages, not just geeks and kids. It does so because it's funny and action-packed and brilliantly written and brilliantly cast. Mostly, though, it succeeds so brilliantly because it comes from the heart. Nothing speaks like true heart.
I have to give it the rarest of feats: a 10/10!! Yes, it's that damn good.