And more licensed music.
- When it comes to making a name for yourself amongst all the many Marvel movies that are out right now, I think it’s safe to say that James Gunn is easily the most prolific director to come out of that project. Even by the standards of superhero movies, Guardians of the Galaxy’s light-hearted tone was such a huge hit with audiences that even highly acclaimed movie-goers like Steven Spielberg declare it their favorite costumed hero genre piece, which is ironic given how only one guy wears a mask, and we don’t see it all that often to begin with. And now you can’t talk about Guardians of the Galaxy or anything James Gunn was attached to like Lollipop Chainsaw or Super without mentioning the man himself. In fact, his name is so attached to the Guardians of the Galaxy name that a sequel without him attached to it would be like a Blood Blockade Battlefront sequel without Rie Matsumot–oh wait.
- Anyways, as of this time of writing, Marvel continues to dominate the movie world whilst the online anime community does their best to ignore it because quite frankly why settle for movie superheroes when we can watch anime superheroes like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, amirite? The box office opening for GoTG Vol. 2 was huge, critical reviews are positive, and we’ve still got two other Marvel films, two other DC films, and a bunch of other comic book stuff to look forward to on the horizon, which you could either take as more evidence that 2017 is a great year for pop culture or a sign that Hollywood is running out of ideas.
- I mean despite the critical success, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn’t exactly escape criticisms that it was way too much like the first one only with diminishing returns. Even the movie-going public acknowledges that this film – and GotG as a whole – is ultimately candy-coated junk food, but who cares because the movie is fun?
- While I’m definitely more lax about the definition of fun than I used to be, especially once I realized that today’s sakuga-crazy fandom isn’t really having as much fun with anime as they seem to convince themselves they’re having, all the light-hearted laughs in the world can’t exactly make me overlook the fact that the plot for Volume 2 is a giant mess. It starts with our main five destroying an alien monster and being congratulated for it by some kingdom run by golden people who pilots unmanned ships through video game arcades (because why not?), only to get hunted by their military when Rocket the Raccoon steals some batteries from them. Batteries so valuable that they can apparently unleash a fucking army to destroy the live-action version of the Star Fox team, but who am I to argue with James Gunn’s off-beat logic?
- From there, the movie separates into a bunch of disparate plotlines that are separated by large oceans and electric fences surrounding the barriers. There’s a plotline revolving around Starlord’s reunion with his father that’s supposed to function as the emotional core of the film, which makes it all the more disappointing when it takes place in a really barren-looking setting. There’s a plotline involving Gamora’s sister that’s used to mildly lead into the third plotline before fizzling out altogether. And said third plotline involves Starlord’s adoptive father and how he has to deal with a mutiny from his own crew whilst Rocket makes fun of them the entire way through.
- Aside from involving all the important characters and coming together for one gigantic explosion-fest, these plotlines have absolutely nothing to do with each other and only exist so that the title characters can get a minimum of one action scene each. And as per usual for Marvel films, the action is too cluttered to carry out visceral impact and the villains are fucking horseshit to the point that Rocket’s constant refusal to take the situation seriously actually benefited in this sequel a lot more than it did in the first film.
- His humor is still pretty forced for the most part, but Rocket really does come into his own as a character in Volume 2. I liked seeing him drop the tough guy act when it looked like his friends might really die, and while the Taserface bit wasn’t doing it for me at first, his repeated attempts to belittle the dude eventually made me smile.
- On the other hand, Drax’s humor is downright pathetic. Apparently we still live in some bizarre world where sexual harassment is considered funny, because pretty much every time he’s on screen, he’s belittling some Asian-looking alien with a straight naive face with the joke being that ugliness is actually a nice thing in some ways. The funny thing is, I was watching this movie with a female friend of mine, and she found his harassment hilarious, whereas her boyfriend and I kept groaning every time it showed up. I don’t care if it’s true that being ugly means when a guy likes you, it’s generally more for who you are. That’s still not something you say to a female.
- But if I were to sum up my main problem with Guardians of the Galaxy in general, it’s that you need to like the humor to like the movie, because the plot is too throwaway and the character arcs are too disjointed to support the bloated two-hour length on its own. And my main problem with James Gunn’s humor – and the Lego Batman Movie did this as well – is that it’s way too bizarre and self-aware for my taste.
- Aside from Rocket’s occasional funny moment – which is never subtle even when it does happen – I didn’t laugh once. Every single joke was basically just “we’re not going to take this seriously, right down to playing licensed music in the background” and that gets tiresome real fast when that’s all you have, especially when you don’t have a straight man to provide contrast to. There’s one extended moment where Starlord tries to ask the enemies for scotch tape in the middle of the final climax. Why on earth would he do that? They are shooting at him from all sides and are clearly not going to give it to him.
- Do you guys remember my praise for the new King Kong movie and how it was funny and awesome because the action was badass and the characters took the wackiness incredibly seriously? Or how I love Metal Gear Solid because they treat the idea of cyborg ninjas and vampire men acting as commanders to a military unit like it’s a normal thing? And let’s not even get started on whiny Anakin in the Star Wars prequels. That’s the kind of humor I enjoy. Camp that you don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but it’s ironic anyways.
- Guardians of the Galaxy’s camp isn’t ironic because it tries too hard to acknowledge that it’s just a joke rather than letting the joke play out naturally. I don’t like it when anime does it, and I don’t like it when western products do it either. And it’s not like I’m against self-aware humor despite all my railings against it. Saints Row 4 is a bucketful of fun.
- But in addition to having offbeat humor and licensed music, Saints Row 4 has character and life and no one acknowledging the strangeness of a gang leader becoming the President of the United States before pulling out a gun that shoots dubstep and wrecking shit up with it. And don’t even get me started on when the characters started getting superpowers in that game. This review is long enough as is.
- I guess if you just want more Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 will do it for you. But as a space comedy in general, it’s just not that funny and not that well put together. Chris Pratt is completely hard to take seriously given how I can’t see him as anyone other than Chris Pratt. None of the individual scenes and setpieces come together very well. Sometimes a character gets a good emotional moment, but that’s far from carrying this film’s length. Strictly for fans only, which given how many there are, shouldn’t be a problem for most of you.
- And what’s up with Howard the Duck getting cameos in this universe anyways?
- I have no idea why Thanos keeps getting teased in these films. I’ll be in my fifties by the time he ups and does something.
- No I don’t know why Sylvester Stallone only gets to show up for three minutes of screen time either.