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SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

By alicebg, Oct 28 2017 03:22PM

In this episode: Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 (2017)

I'll admit, I wasn't a big fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy. To be frank, I'm not a big fan of the modern Guardians at all - I'm decrepit enough to remember the original team, with Vance Astro, Nikki and the first Star Lord, who randomly turned into a woman (hey, it was the seventies). I also remember when Drax the Destroyer was a thoroughly nasty piece of work, not muscled-up comic relief. To be even franker, the only reason I hinged onto vol. 2 was the appearance of Mantis (Pom Klementieff ) - I was intrigued that Marvel would dust off one of their most obscure properties and give her a starring role. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that vol. 2 is a distinct improvement on its decidedly lumpy prototype, even if it's a long way from being a classic.

The rather thin plot sees the Guardians, in typical form, hired to protect a cosmic energy source, which one of the team (hint: he's small and furry) promptly steals. On the run from their erstwhile paymasters, the group is unwillingly divided, half of them drawing the attention of the godlike Ego (Kurt Russell) and the other half falling variously into the clutches of old friends/foes Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) - as agenda-laden a set of circumstances as you could imagine.

The primary focus is on Star Lord's (Chris Pratt) galaxy-sized daddy issues (Ego claims to be his father, but surrogate dad Yondu has something to say about that), but pretty much everyone gets their moment, although Mantis is rather sadly thrown away. Given an extended run at the character, Gillan is far more impressive as Nebula this time around than she was in the original.

As with the first outing, Guardians vol. 2 trades heavily on a judicious mix of action-comedy and drama. generally speaking it works well, but the movies is encumbered by its lesser elements, such as Drax's (Dave Bautista) pointless gurning, the utterly annoying Yondu and, unfortunately, Baby Groot, who starts out charming but rapidly becomes a one-note gag (as well as a non-asset to the team).

Vol. 2 has a lurid, hyper-trippy look that every so often tips over into resembling a bad LSD rush or, worse, an over-extended candy commercial. And, as is so often the case with movies of this type, the over-egged climax proves to be a bit of a bore, Ego [Spoiler alert!] proving a thoroughly bland villain for all his limitless power.

Overall vol. 2 is a vast improvement on its predecessor, and a fun way to pass a couple of hours. Iyt is, however, instantly forgettable, and it's going to be interesting to see how Marvel manages to integrate the Guardians into their wider universe, especially after Civil War (q.v.) depicted it in dark and earthy tones. Groot and the gang may have some fast growing-up to do.

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