GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017, James Gunn)
Way too long and mostly boring, it’s difficult to imagine this appealing to anyone who isn’t already gung-ho for it. If Marvel movies aren’t your bag, this won’t change your mind. If you line up like a lemming for anything with a colorful costume or a spaceship, it’s doubtful you’ll be disappointed.
One thing Gunn’s sequel does well is focus heavily on character and motivation. It doesn’t dispense with spectacle — on the contrary, its big climactic set-piece is a yawn-inducing numb-fest with so many flashing lights and computer FX that you’ll find yourself going over a grocery list or wondering if Swansea will be relegated by the time it’s over — but in its downtime it makes personal conflict more important than interstellar ones. But it doubles down on the daddy issues that dominate far too many sci-fi blockbusters of late, not the least of which is the obvious template for this movie: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. And for a film that puts Chris Pratt and Kurt Russell at the center of this dynamic, it’s interesting that Michael Rooker comes out looking like the best part of the subplot.
Drax has some amusing lines (“Haha! I have famously huge turds!”) and Bradley Cooper continues to curiuosly give one of his best performances, but Zoe Saldana once again is left to play a thankless role of the humorless moral center (with Karen Gillan going through a lot of effort to draw out the running time for no good reason). And while Gunn finds clever ways to keep the visuals fleet-footed and slick, he sticks to his K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the ’70s thing, to the point where a mid-movie prison break is hyper-violent and brutal but all you can think of when it’s over is Jay & The Americans’ “Come a Little Bit Closer.” As if that somehow makes the mass murder okay.
And how do you have a Tango & Cash reunion but never put them on screen together? Ridiculous.