And it isn’t just that my expectation was, perhaps, unjustifiably high. Sequels, with the exception of Fast Five, Ice Age 2 & 3, Avengers 2 (just scrapes through, aided, no doubt, by James Spader’s presence and Vision’s handling of Thor’s hammer for which I give additional marks) and Jurassic World, have almost always missed the mark. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 misses it, and does it without a care in the world because the cash registers will ring enough times for it to make its money.
Truth be told, it isn’t half as bad as FnF’s Spurious 7 or the Batman-v-Superman Yawn of Justice. But it isn’t a movie I’ll pause my channel-surfing for. The actors seem to have done a sincere job of going through the motions and motion-captures, but when you have a story-line that was probably scrawled on the back of a tissue between two bites of a soggy burger, this is pretty much as good as it can get.
For starters, a good portion of the movie is in zoomed-out mode. When you are watching it in 3D, it gives you the feeling of watching something happening at the far end of a tunnel – and that the characters trying to fight/escape are not really life-sized humans but puny, 1:150 actions figures that you get at the local toy stores. Which brings me to grouse #2 – Groot.
I am Groot (Translation: Yeah, the smaller version of Groot looks adorable)
I am Groot (But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…)
I am Groot (…as you can see)
And if you thought someone got lazy with just giving Groot a 3-word vocabulary in Vol 1, that someone then got really lazy with Vol 2. Almost every dialogue was turned into some sort of a punch-line setup, with the result that after a while, you can pretty much anticipate what Quill or Drax or Rocket will say simply because there’s really nothing else they could be saying. Agreed, some of the lines in V2 are almost as funny as V1 – but equally undeniably, when you overdo it to this extent, you must either get it right or go back to your writing pads.
The climax, now that I think about it, wasn’t as bad as I initially found it. I loved the touch of the face on the planet Ego (yeah, you read that right), and the denouement wasn’t too (if you’ll pardon the pun) out of the world. But I have a feeling it was a tad more linear than Vol 1’s was, and Yondu was the only real surprise there. In fact, Yondu was one of the saving graces in a film where the character arcs for the others seemed hastily put together.
But if Yondu got some of the coolest moments in the movie (the back-and-forth with Quill just before the Final Battle, or the attempts to make Little Groot understand what to steal), he also got the Bollywood treatment with a “I’m an orphan like you” connection to Rocket. It spelt out a detail I wish they had just left as an enigmatic unknown. It tried to soften the edges of a character whose very charm was in its roughness.
The Nebula-Gamora relationship was equally painful to watch. But at this rate, I guess by GotG 4, none of the Guardians will be having any more enemies in the world. What will they guard the galaxy against, I wonder? Another DCEU movie?
Or another MCU one?
My verdict? Watch GotG2 if you haven’t had your fill of the gang and you don’t want to watch Vol. 1 for the seventh time in a row. Otherwise, leave your high and medium expectations at home. I watched it twelve hours ago and I’m barely able to remember any of it now.
Post-credit note: MCU usually gets it right with the Post-credits scenes. Not this time. You kinda get why even aliens leave Stan Lee behind at the end of the last, and I mean the very last (of 3 or 4) post-credit vignettes.