“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2”

 

                The sequel is never going to be quite as creative as the original, but at least there’s opportunity for character development and plot advancement.  Here, there’s a bit of both, but the magic isn’t quite there this time.

                Chris Pratt returns as Peter Quill/ Star-Lord, but at least now we know why he’s so invincible.  He’s actually a deity.  Or half of one, anyway.  It seems his “real” father, Ego (Kurt Russell), who calls himself a “celestial,” is immortal, and has had thousands of years to figure out just how to utilize his creative power, including making himself into a human form that can then descend to Earth and impregnate a human so he can have offspring.   Theologically, it’s not so much borrowed from Christianity as it is Greek mythology:  Hercules, you’ll recall, was the progeny of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene.   Ego teaches Peter some cool tricks with conjuring energy, but Ego, as you might suspect, is not exactly operating out of altruistic motives:  he wants his son’s help in conquering the world. (Actually, it sounds more like Darth Vader trying to get Luke Skywalker to come over to the Dark Side.)

                Peter’s still trying to wrap his mind around why his Dad left, and the more he learns from his Dad, the less he wants to be like him.  Besides, there’s this matter of loyalty to his motley crew of Galaxy Guardians:  Gamora (Zoe Salana), with whom he has an “unspoken thing” going, Dax (Dave Bautista), the guy who really does look like Hercules on steroids but personality-wise is more like a big puppy.  Then there’s the mascots, Rocket (the voice of Bradley Cooper) who looks like a talking raccoon, but with an attitude, and Baby Groot (the voice of Vin Diesel), who looks like a cute little pet but winds up saving everybody.

                Along the way, we’re doing our best to be casual, and listen to 70’s music while we dispatch the bad guys, and enjoy put-down repartee while dodging laser guns.  We’re also featuring a wicked Queen who thinks she has achieved perfection, a woman with visible antennae who can read other people’s emotions, and a renegade stepdad who might want to make amends.  And then there’s the cameos by Sylvester Stallone and Stan Lee. Yes, we’re throwing a lot of stuff together, and hoping some of it will stick, but the hyperkinetic activity winds up being more serious than probably intended.  Self-parody is too nuanced when you’re busy saving the galaxy while joking about it.

                Some of the 70’s/80’s music choices are a bit bizarre (“Brandy” by Looking Glass as the greatest Earth song ever?). Some of us Baby Boomers will not catch all the current cultural references.  And some of our pragmatic/realistic moviegoers just don’t go for the fantasy/comic book superhero genre, even if it does have a sense of humor. 

                But all in all, it’s harmless fun.  If you’re willing to suspend a lot of disbelief.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                   Have you ever experienced one of those “unspoken things” with somebody?

2)                  What’s a reasonable set of expectations between a father and a son?  What’s not reasonable?

3)                  What’s your favorite cheesy song from the 70’s?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association