dir: James Gunn
Meh. I’m left feeling pretty meh after watching that. That it was an experience of sorts is undeniable. What I can’t really grasp yet is what kind of experience it was.
It didn’t really feel like a movie, let alone a Marvel movie. In a lot of scenes I felt like I was watching people rehearsing scenes from a bunch of different plays, and really so much of it doesn’t really hang together. Maybe it was like one of those interactive rides at a theme park where it’s really not that interactive and it’s over awfully quickly, and at best you remember that you had an experience without remembering what the experience was.
Unless it happened at Dreamworld, in which case you’re lucky to still be alive after the ride. Damn that place is a Deathtrap on the Gold Coast™.
And while I’m the first to admit that I had, shall we say, ambiguous feelings about the flick up to this specific point, if I thought the flick was lame / unsatisfying before the “father and son bond over playing catch” scene, afterwards, when the cold sweat of embarrassment faded, my feelings about it were no longer ambiguous, I can tell you that much.
No. In fact, I thought for a while that this could be the lamest / dumbest thing I’d seen in a while, but then there were little bits and pieces that made me not loathe it as much.
First of all, the most frightening thing in this flick is that, in the service of some overall goal of every movie being a Marvel universe movie and having to do with some other Marvel movies, the essential feeling of unnecessariness kinda makes it obvious to the viewer that in a lot of instances, everyone is pretty much interchangeable. In the past where I might have praised something like Guardians for not being your standard Marvel superhero flick, and being more of a sci-fi action comedy with idiot characters and loopy visuals, now it’s obvious that none of it is really that important. Anyone can do and say anything because all of these characters, in fact the ‘best’ characters here are blank slates whose interchangeability means they’re all Lego blocks with the same Lego-like function.
I’d be lying if I said that the revelation of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) heritage as the son of a planet was important to me, but, honestly, you would think it’s not something commonplace. A villainous parent is stock standard in every form of art that has existed for at least the last 400 years.
They are rarely played by the always excellent and I will never hear a bad word spoken about him Kurt Russell. Here he literally plays Ego the Living Planet. That is a thing. A living planet who in theory sounds like a fascinating character / antagonist can of course easily become something stolid and mundane (as in, just another thing to fight and then blow up).
As far as plotting goes, well, I can’t say that they didn’t do their homework in terms of knitting the dumb things that happen at the beginning of the flick with whatever happens at the end of the flick. Also, it’s completely and utterly wallowing in the bathos of fathers, adoptive fathers, family and ‘family’ in ways so mawkish and so stultifying that it broke my heart and face, and not in a good way. The aforementioned scene where Quill plays catch with Kurt Russell’s Ego has to be one of the flat out worst moments ever committed to digitally enhanced celluloid / hard drive. What in fuck’s name were they thinking?
It made me gag, truth be told. Everyone seems to have something to do, but the things they have to do aren’t really that interesting, honestly. There are also these secondary antagonists called the Sovereign who are these golden goofballs led by a golden high priestess (Australia’s Own Elizabeth Debicki) who are so unimportant and uninteresting that I think I kind of looked off screen whenever they appeared. It’s almost like my mind didn’t want to admit they existed, and so if I can’t see them, then they can’t irritate / hurt me.
Everyone (who, like me, has no life outside of watching trash movies that cost $200 mill to make and $300 mill to market and complaining about them like I’m providing some service to humanity) might have their favourite moments or characters in something like this, and invariably I would guess most people would like anything to do with Baby Groot, since he seems to be so calculated to be cutesy and nuts and all. As enjoyable as I find the character, it’s actually Drax (Dave Bautista) that the movie overly relies on. Every few minutes or so Drax bellows and / or guffaws loudly and then says something along the lines of “your human ways are stupid and you are stupid” which wouldn’t sound out of place from a character on the autism spectrum. So much of the flick is devoted to him grunting out his dialogue like it’s constantly value adding to the film, even if he’s delivering lines like “HA HA HA HA yes my turds are famously huge”.
That… that wasn’t a joke, that’s an actual line of dialogue. For all the mawkishness and heavy eyerolling the flick produces, there is a bit of a difference in terms of the visuals, to make the flick seem slightly different from, oh, I dunno, every second film that comes out with stunning visuals and little else. There is this 1970s Electric Wizard drug enhanced spraypainted on the side of a panel van look to much of the flick, especially when it’s on the ‘evil’ planet, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Look, even if I buy that this is entertaining because it doesn’t take itself seriously at all, it’s hard not to feel that it has to take itself at least seriously enough for me to give a flying rat’s arse about it enough to care. Thing is I couldn’t care about any of it. Too many of the gags, whether it’s the frankly bizarre David Hasselhoff references and inexplicable cameo, the over-reliance on 80s references in general which don’t make sense in any context, the willingness to go the extra mile on gags that aren’t worth the heavy lifting to get there (the completely underwhelming ‘that vegetable isn’t ripe yet’ gag that gets belaboured and belaboured before misfiring), Sylvester Stallone’s hideous visage, all of it adds up to one big fat nullity.
The 1980s thing especially – Peter Quill - he’s meant to be like 34. The movie specifically says that 34 years after super weird alien Ego dude knocks up Quill’s mother and plants some weird blue thing behind a pancake place, that this action we’re now watching is happening. Okay then, why would he know anything about Pacman or Cheers or Moonlighting or all that golden oldies hits of the 60s 70s and 80s stuff that the Baby Boomers are the true Guardians of? Is he like one of those people with Korsakov’s syndrome or a type of amnesia who thinks he’s living in a perpetual present from before he was born?
In all his time alive he’s come across nothing else? Not seen anything new, heard anything new, and nor has anyone else? The entire universe out there is just waiting for him to make some Where’s the Beef or Ronald Reagan references so that they can delightfully misunderstand them?
How many 34 year olds do you know obsess over Steely Dan, Looking Glass or Electric Light Orchestra? Exactly, not a single living human on this planet, or any other planet.
I get that people like references – I like references. 90% of being a geek is getting the references. I’m not such a fan of references when they take me out of a movie and make me feel embarrassed for being a geek. It’s the sheer laziness of it as well that offends my tender sensibilities. There so much half-assedness on display here.
Bleh. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Don’t waste your time like I can afford to waste mine. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a long, mostly unfunny sketch comedy show long on the long but short on the comedy. Maybe a viewing (perhaps drunk) down the track will improve things, but I sincerely doubt the stench of failure will wash off with this one.
5 times I hated most of this music 30 years ago such that hearing it again now just adds insult to injury, because it’s not even the GOOD goddamn music from the long ago out of 10
“You shouldn't have killed my mom and squished my Walkman” – my bad, soz – Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2