Author Topic: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (Read 223 times)

DarkeningHumour

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« on: June 01, 2017, 08:51:10 AM »
Watched this when it was released but I have been putting the review off.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
James Gunn (2017)


When you did not like the original movie, hearing that the sequel is more of the same is not the most enticing thought. Predictably enough, the things I did not like in Guardians first of the name bothered me again in Vol. 2. Thankfully, the latter is a better movie, so the things I had enjoyed I was able this time to enjoy more, and some flaws have been corrected.

A lot of my qualms with the older brother involved using the word "nonsense" a lot. The universe make no sense: no society operates like Xandar and how does a regular cop have access to his planet's highest authority? The characters could virtually be reduced to one characteristic each (badass green woman, doesn't understand sarcasm, is a tree) and had the thinnest inklings of personalities. The plot developments flirted with the absurd like they had two weeks to repopulate the planet.

In many ways Vol. 2 should have been the first movie. It was the first time I felt there was something real beneath the characters. It goes much deeper into their relationships and explores backstory. Gamora still hasn't earned that « most dangerous woman in the galaxy » moniker but she is far closer to it than she used to be. Nebula, a formerly atrocious « grumpy who hates everything » villain cliché, finally gets a personality and we come to understand why she became this way and what her relationship with her sister is. Yondu behaves like someone who once had to care for a child instead of being s dismissable tertiary afterthought. Unfortunately all these arcs are made much less powerful than they should be because, after being drastically mistreated in the first movie, who cares about these anymore, really?

The science-fiction part of the movie, however, continues to be incomprehensibly nonsensical. It is annoying enough that Gunn cannot come up with better ideas for new species than giving humans a new coat of paint, or sometimes horns or such, but the video-game based military software belongs on Galaxy Quest-like space comedies, not an MCU movie. And therein lies the fundamental problem of the Guardians of the Galaxy duology.

James Gunn refuses to be a team player and inscribe his movies in the MCU. If not for the tenuous plot points of the first one, there would be nothing to connect the two franchises. His cosmos in no way fits with what was described in Thor, which came earlier. He reduces Thanos instead of building upon him and introducing elements that could be later exploited, etc. Primarily though, the issue is one of tone. Gunn makes movies that care little for logic in a franchise that is held by its own brand of realism. 

That matters because for better or worse Marvel chose to include these movies in its franchise, so every time they stray away from the established rules of the universe, they weaken its fabric a little more. The MCU is not a collection of individual works but a team effort where everyone tries to coordinate their scripts to produce a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The Guardians movies are better enjoyed when you forget they're part of the MCU, which is the surest way to know they're doing it wrong. The same could be same about other Marvel movies, and one might ask what was Stark was doing while SHIELD was getting its ass kicked in Winter Soldier,  but those are flaws within those movies, not jurisprudence on acceptable practices.

Watching Guardians 2 was like turning on a version of The Two Towers that becomes a Pythonian comedy by the middle, and then plays the battle for Elm's Deep as a social mores drama. You could make those movies, but inside the Jackson trilogy it would jar, and lessen the whole thing.

It is a pity because this could have been such a good movie. It is so funny, and not in the usual Marvel smartass way. Its comedy brand is probably the most original in the franchise and in the second movie the characters truly become likeable and enjoyable instead of bipedal gimmicks. The soundtrack is pretty great and off the tracks for a space battle movie and the cast does good work, even though I still think Zoe Saldana looks like a starving twig compared to the character she is supposed to be playing.

The clearest way to know this is a Marvel movie though, is to see how tragically it spoils its villain and the wastes the talent playing it. I don't know how you take a literal god and do nothing more interesting with him than trying to take over the universe because narcissism. His motivations are simplistic and his plan uninteresting. I suppose you're already shooting yourself in the foot when you name your character Ego, but surely there was a way to say something about narcissism between all out shooting scenes? His powers are also pretty boring for someone virtually omnipotent.

6.5/10
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MartinTeller

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2017, 09:55:08 AM »
The science-fiction part of the movie, however, continues to be incomprehensibly nonsensical.

the video-game based military software belongs on Galaxy Quest-like space comedies

James Gunn refuses to be a team player and inscribe his movies in the MCU

The Guardians movies are better enjoyed when you forget they're part of the MCU

You're describing things that make this movie good. Comic books are nonsense, and I can't stand movies that are slavishly devoted to preserving their dumb logic (or tedious backstory and continuity). Treat the stories like the disposable childish silliness they are, and I'm on board. As for being a "team player", that sounds incredibly dreary. God save us from team players!

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2017, 10:01:58 AM »
So no more anthologies then? No more ABCs of death or the like? No more of any projects where directors have to work with any measure of coordination? Why would you want that? You are in effect wishing for the disappearance of an entire kind of movies.

And you keep complaining about the dumb logic of superhero movies but never say what you're talking about specifically. Should all movies espouse perfect realism or else throw all logic aside and make no effort to preserve any kind of verisimilitude, whatever their premises? Is it permissible for the characters of Jurassic World to behave like idiots because  cloning dinosaurs out of amber is not possible and therefore the whole movie is dumb anyway?
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2017, 10:07:43 AM »
I think the film does an excellent job at being what it is trying to be and what it is trying to be is much better than the ambitions of the rest of the MCU. I really don't see the need for there to be a consistent tone throughout the entire MCU. If you look at the comics, they're so broad in tone and take from creative team to creative team. Fraction's Hawkeye and Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder are two vastly different kinds of books that exist in the the same Marvel comic universe.

The comics certainly do not have the tonal consistency you're arguing the movies should have so I've no idea where you're getting this idea that they should be uniform. The comic medium often prides itself on being this medium that can totally play and flip around tones and takes on established worlds and characters. Hell, Marvel will run like half a dozen series based around the same character that are super different in tone, art-style, setting, and characters (See Spider-Man/X-Men).

MartinTeller

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2017, 10:13:55 AM »
So no more anthologies then? No more ABCs of death or the like? No more of any projects where directors have to work with any measure of coordination? Why would you want that? You are in effect wishing for the disappearance of an entire kind of movies.

Omnibus movies are almost universally disappointing, but that's a different kettle of fish anyway. That's giving directors a basic theme and letting them run with it. The kind of rigid adherence to a tone and set of rules that you're arguing for sounds very limiting and dull.

And you keep complaining about the dumb logic of superhero movies but never say what you're talking about specifically.

I'm talking about the tedious "We must get The Orb of Whosiewhatsie before Dark Villian combines it with the Crown of Macguffins to open the Gateway of Doom and destroy the universe!" type of stories.

Should all movies espouse perfect realism or else throw all logic aside and make no effort to preserve any kind of verisimilitude, whatever their premises? Is it permissible for the characters of Jurassic World to behave like idiots because  cloning dinosaurs out of amber is not possible and therefore the whole movie is dumb anyway?

I don't know, I didn't see Jurassic World. I don't think movies should do one or the other, I'm just not gonna get my panties in a twist if a movie based on a comic book doesn't make 100% logical sense. As long as it's fun, that's all I really care about.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 10:15:51 AM by MartinTeller »

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2017, 10:38:07 AM »
But the movie writing its way around the difficulties its premise entails is part of the fun. Your example of the overblown McGuffin chase is less an intrinsic flaw of superhero movies than it is an example of bad writing that you could easily find anywhere. You could almost apply the same sentence word for word to an Indiana Jones type movie. The best superhero movies make their plot about something less boring than that and find a way to make sense of the whole super vigilante thing.

You dissociate fun from logic but how can a movie be fun if glaring plotholes or inconsistencies keep popping up?

As for rules being dull, they might be, but the whole point of doing a franchise is to preserve continuity and stylistic uniformity. If that's not your thing as a viewer or director, than just avoid them. Making a franchise movie and ignoring the franchise is the equivalent of being invited to play board games and then refusing to follow the rules.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 10:53:33 AM »
But the movie writing its way around the difficulties its premise entails is part of the fun. Your example of the overblown McGuffin chase is less an intrinsic flaw of superhero movies than it is an example of bad writing that you could easily find anywhere. You could almost apply the same sentence word for word to an Indiana Jones type movie. The best superhero movies make their plot about something less boring than that and find a way to make sense of the whole super vigilante thing.

You dissociate fun from logic but how can a movie be fun if glaring plotholes or inconsistencies keep popping up?

As for rules being dull, they might be, but the whole point of doing a franchise is to preserve continuity and stylistic uniformity. If that's not your thing as a viewer or director, than just avoid them. Making a franchise movie and ignoring the franchise is the equivalent of being invited to play board games and then refusing to follow the rules.

Yes, the Indiana Jones movies have ridiculous plots! Raiders of the Lost Ark is in my top 100 and the story is absurd. The whole movie could exist without the main character and the outcome would be exactly the same. And yet, it's FUN. Last Crusade is even more ridiculous and that's fun too (we won't get into Temple of Doom). Problems arise when the ludicrous storyline takes center stage over character, dialogue, action, spectacle. And I find that comic superhero movies too often waste precious time developing the intricacies of a convoluted and usually uninteresting plot, for the sake of catering to the pre-existing fanbase of the franchise.

You're one of that fanbase, that gets a kick out of seeing the familiar elements of the stories recreated on the big screen. I'm not, and I'm aware that most of these superhero movies aren't made for me. But I do get excited for one like GotG, which is more inviting to the outsider who just wants a good time and isn't invested in all the minutia of the "cinematic universe".

Glaring plotholes or inconsistencies only distract from the fun if plot is where the fun comes from. Like, say, a twisty thriller. Plot holes in a twisty thriller probably would spoil the fun in a lot of cases. But I'm not especially interested in the plot of GotG (or Raiders). It's the characters and how they deal with situations -- not the situations themselves -- that provide the fun.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2017, 11:17:23 AM »
This is not a question of adaptation but of world building. I am familiar with the material but I am not bothered by their deviating choices (except Gamora, who should really be buffed up). I am ready to have all the fun with the bantering squad of galactic misfits but why should that prevent the movie from coming up with a smart plot? The entire Ego exposition scene is lazy and there is no easy for anyone to have giant dioramas of their lives in their homes. A simple stylised flashback would have sufficed instead. I am game for a space battle finale, but surely they can come up with something better to defeat than a giant glowing brain? It is not an either/or equation, we're allowed to have both and I expect the filmmakers to deliver that.

If Doctor Strange had spent five minutes developing its « time is the real enemy » idea it might have become the most intelligent superhero movie ever made by kilometres. It would take two scenes to do with Stane what Thor does with Loki, humanising him, explaining his actions, providing background for his motives. Ego could have been a fantastic villain had they bothered to write a couple of blasé lines about other life forms being disappointing: a nihilistic megalomaniac with the power to back it up.
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Teproc

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2017, 12:15:57 PM »
This is not a question of adaptation but of world building. I am familiar with the material but I am not bothered by their deviating choices (except Gamora, who should really be buffed up). I am ready to have all the fun with the bantering squad of galactic misfits but why should that prevent the movie from coming up with a smart plot? The entire Ego exposition scene is lazy and there is no easy for anyone to have giant dioramas of their lives in their homes.

That makes sense though, given that he would have needed to give this little speech many times. It might be lazy but it's not unjustified within the plot.

I'd say the problem isn't that Guardians 2 deviates from the formula, it's just that it does so poorly. Still fun, but a wasted opportunity. But I don't think it could afford to do the same stock plot that Guardians 1 did: that was already the weakest part of that film.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 12:17:50 PM by Teproc »

MartinTeller

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Re: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2017, 12:33:59 PM »
The Ego scenes are definitely the weakest bits of GotG2. I dunno, supervillains in general are pretty boring, right? You've seen one nihilistic megalomaniac, you've seen 'em all. I'm also not a big Kurt Russell guy.

 

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