Guardians of the Galaxy II Review

It took a while but I finally watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.  The reason I hesitated to see the first one was because of how many crass jokes made the cut, and this second film’s parental advisory on IMDB made me hesitate even more.  But somehow, I managed to sit through this sequel, enjoy the music, laugh a little, and yell nasty things at a certain character (I won’t say who because that’d be a spoiler).

The movie opens with a peek into Starlord / Peter Quill’s past, where we meet a man and woman who are presumably Peter’s parents.  The woman is really young and the man looks like Kurt Russel with a lot of de-aging makeup.  They kiss, and then we timeskip to 34 years later.  (I didn’t realize Starlord is that old….  He acts like a small child who read too many high school biology / anatomy textbooks for fun.)

From that point on, the plot is, to be honest, pretty weak.  Anything a character says is either too-obvious foreshadowing or a stupid joke about anatomy.  (Drax, I adore you because you are so socially awkward and thus so relatable, but this time, you went too far with your awkwardness — I am leaving you for Mantis.)  As with La La Land, all I could do is sit back and enjoy the pretty colors and music.  A lot of people die for no reason and it’s hard to be more than grossed out by the gratuity of it all, because the movie really isn’t geared for those kinds of feels.  I’m sorry, but the writers set the stage for comedy and rainbow explosions.

The movie picks up a little when the Guardians randomly discover Peter’s father Ego, played by Kurt Russel.  He takes them to his eponymous home planet, Ego, where Ego begins to teach Peter about his non-human heritage.  As long as they use their combined power to keep the planet going, Ego will have his powers.  Oh yeah, and so will Peter….

Now, I think the movie gets bonus points from me for portraying Peter’s father in a way that surprised even the people who read Starlord’s Wikipedia entry when they heard rumors that a Guardians 2 would never happen.  Originally, the father of Peter was an alien prince named J’son (or Jason of Spartax), who crash-lands on Earth, meets Peter’s mother, and heads back to space without realizing she’s pregnant with their child.

Ego, on the other hand, is a “Luminous” being who touts himself as godlike, and uses his Luminous powers to keep his planet and his powers (which Peter also possesses) alive.  From the beginning, though I respect Kurt Russel as an actor, I had a feeling I wouldn’t like this character.  For starters,- the name itself is a huge red flag.  Secondly, I guess being a religious monotheist, I don’t like when writers come up with godly characters, especially when these characters up and take credit for the creation of my real-world world in place of G-d.  (This is a notion I’m having a lot of trouble explaining without sounding hoity-toity, I’m sorry.)

I’d say family is intended to be an important theme in this story.  A significant subplot is the reunion of Gamora and her cyborg sister Nebula (played by Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame, who I’m afraid puts more effort into nailing a standard American accent than emoting).  If I recall, Gamora and Nebula were foster children of Thanos (some giant blue space being with an … wait for it … infinity gauntlet) who pitted the girls against each other all through their formative years; the loser of every fight was mutilated and given cybernetic implants as punishment.  Nebula wants to kill everybody who she feels ever harmed her which means Gamora must run for her life.

Nebula and Gamora’s dynamic parallels every Avengers movie where they fight it out for two hours and for the last fifteen minutes hug and become friends, so when Thanos and his gauntlet make a return in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m pretty sure these two ladies will fit in just fine.

The movie also features cameos from Sylvester Stallone (he of the wicked-cool eyebrows) and … David Hasselhoff.  The nod to Knight Rider was actually pretty nice.  But I watched the musical episode of Knight Rider with Catherine Hickland (his then-wife), and heard their cover of the song “White Bird” more times than I care to; I don’t know how much money was given to the Guardians writers to compare the Hoff’s voice to that of an angel.  😛

Bottom line is, I found the film to be way too envelope-pushing in terms of crass sexual content and slapstick-violence.  I was able to enjoy it despite these concerns, but it’s most certainly not a film that a) I would want to watch again or b) see with young children.  I will, however, enjoy the soundtrack as much as I can.  The soundtrack was actually pretty rad this time around.