PLAGUED BY THE SEQUEL CURSE
Film Review by Fiore
There is an inherent predicament with sequels; how do you avoid a rehash of the original, and offer something fresh and new? When STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE exploded on screens, it set a high bar for space entertainment. STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, provided the same spectacular sights, but enthralled audiences with what is arguably the best plot twist in cinematic history.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY set a similar scenario. A movie based on a comic book read by a miniscule minority, it took viewers by storm. Presented in an extravagant visage, riddled with humor and classic rock, the film unleashed a box office blitzkrieg. Rather than taking the franchise to the next level, Writer/Director James Gunn opts to repeat the template and present viewers with redundancy in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2.
It’s not that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 isn’t an eyeful; it is an SFX multiple orgasm. Framestone, Weta Digital, Trixter, Method Studios, Animal Logic, Lola, Luma and Cantina Creative post-production facilities united to create creatures and worlds of flabbergasting fineness. The effects, especially on the planet Ego, are dumbfounding, especially in 3D.
No, where GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 falters is in the scripting. While the SFX are grander, the story is feeble. Rather than expanding the characters, Gunn settles for surprise star cameos. Watching GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 is similar to watching the original; it’s the same story told on a different street corner.
And, what most people, especially Marvel fanboys feared, is coming true. That is, the “Disneyfication” of Marvel.
For decades, Disney desired to indoctrinate viewers, particularly children, with a socialist view of society and culture, especially when it concerns family. While progressive liberals whittled away at the traditional family model, Disney opted to present dysfunctional families as the norm. Initially, these efforts were noble. Children in family aberrations could see their situations presented on screen and have a sense of belonging. But, this was an illusion. The truth was, and still is, that the family unit is comprised of mother, father and children. To compensate for the proliferation of the welfare state, the propaganda claimed single motherhood was sufficient. It is not. Children were even taught in school curriculum that Mary could have two mommies. That is an abnormality. Now, as the importance of the family unit is regenerating in society, the dilemma of how to compensate the divergent ideologies is paramount. Films deal with the issue by creating families, not out of blood bonds, but rather out of shared causes. This is the absurdity enveloping the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise, and now Disney infuses it into GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2.
Gunn goes to extremes in scripting a familial bond between the members of the Guardians. It is forced and evident. This is not a family; it is a collection of galactic misfits. Gunn further advances the socialist concept of family by setting the protagonist’s real father as the antagonist. It is farce, especially when a nefarious foster father is shown preference to the real father. Memo to studios: It is possible to have a cohesive group of people, who function well together, and not be family. As an example: The Ratpack did it for decades.
These subtle, but exceptionally annoying script elements, detract from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 and undermine the Herculean efforts from the CGI geeks.
The Guardians are now heroes, and are commissioned by the Sovereigns to guard batteries that power their planet. When an interdimensional creature attempts to abscond with the power units, the Guardians display their prowess at organized mayhem, once again saving the day, but not before Rocket, the criminally deranged raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, purloins several of the prized batteries. The Guardians find themselves pursued through space by an irate Sovereign race, and their condescending leader Ayesha, played by Elizabeth Debicki. While evading their pursuers, the Guardians encounter Ego, played by Kurt Russell, who is Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father. The Guardians sidetrack their journey long enough for Quill to discover his dad, and the amazing world prepared for him. Apparently, Quill’s papa is a god, who needs sonny boy to expand the universe. With this plot point, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 sounds a lot like STAR TREK 5: THE FINAL FRONTIER. It causes one to ask: “What does god need with a starship?”
Back as members of the squad are Pratt and Cooper; Zoe Saldana as Gamora; Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer; and Vin Diesel as Baby Groot. Back for a second adventure are Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta; Karen Gillan as Nebula; Sean Gunn as Kraglin; and Seth Green as Howard the Duck. New to this story are Russell, Debicki; Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord; and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. There are cameos by Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Miley Cyrus, David Hasselhoff, Rob Zombie, Jeff Goldblum and of course, Stan Lee.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. BATTLE WITH THE CREATURE DURING THE OPENING CREDITS
2. YONDU GETTING HIS FIN BACK
Let’s take a look at the report card for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2:
1.2 ACTING = C
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = A
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = A
1.5 EDITING = C
1.6 LIGHTING = C
1.7 SCRIPT = F
1.8 SFX = A
1.9 ACTION = A
Editors Fred Raskin and Craig Wood pace the film well, but spend a little too much time allowing the viewer to goggle at digital images. The final battle sequence inside the planet are haphazard and frantic; reminiscent of the idiotic action sequences of the JASON BOURNE franchise.
Watching GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 is much like sitting down and re-watching the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Gunn announced he is on board for writing and directing the third film in the series. Hopefully, he will expand his creative muses and not give us a third helping of the same recipe.