Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Year: 2017
Production Co: Disney
Studio: Marvel Studios
Director: James Gunn
Producer: Kevin Fiege
Writer: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone

I was one of probably four people worldwide who didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe it was because people will eat up anything Marvel dishes out, blindsided by spectacle and tricked into thinking it's quality.

Back then something occurred to me that I think applies even more here. If everyone loved that movie with its lovable, colourful cast, galaxy-spanning mythology that we were introduced to in a rush and orgy of CGI destruction and battle scenes, why didn't they respond similarly to Jupiter Ascending? As far as I could see the only thing Guardians of the Galaxy had that it didn't were jokes. Are audiences really that shallow that we're won over by a few laughs?

Everything the first movie served up, this movie crams unceremoniously down your throat. There doesn't seem to be a single real set anywhere, every backdrop comprising swirls and storms of CGI colour and fury (interesting that one of the first negative criticisms I remember reading about Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace was that the all-digital visuals made it look like a cartoon).

The mythology and the backstories about the characters was flung at the screen in a dreadful hurry the first time around, a mythology you're equally unfamiliar with here despite being expected to recognise the stakes in it instantly (here's an example; when a quite major secondary character dies at the end he's treated like a hero, but I thought he'd been a bad guy the whole time).

The story is the oft-trod trope of superhero sequels. The gang have found their mojo as space-going guns for hire and we meet them, bickering and lollygagging, as they're about to embark on their next major assignment killing some giant squid thing and returning some special power source to a race of tall, gold-painted beings they get on the wrong side of.

The remote controlled fighters of the gold people give chase and in the ensuing battle the heroes crash land on a planet where they meet a guy who claims to be Peter's long lost father (Kurt Russell). It seems he's some supremely intelligent and powerful cosmic being who fell in love with Peter's mother, had a baby with her and then had to abandon Earth to build a planet using only the power of his mind.

As the gold people close in and that pirate band from the last film led by that blue guy get involved... and Peter falls more under the spell of his father promising him eternal power... or something... then... You know what? I'd forgotten it all by the time I got back to my car. All I remember is a blaze of colour and sound that looked like a bad visual reel pitch to remake Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void, and a couple of jokes that gave me one or two chuckles.

It's all the same old Marvel formula, only with CGI engineers let completely off the leash because it's about aliens and faraway planets. Strange creatures and characters, production design and action scenes that were hot-swappable from one sequence to the next all felt like a video game I wasn't interested in playing, and the whole thing left me cold.

But once again, it's hoovered up bazillions of dollars from suckers everywhere, the most commercial of commercial movies, and we can look forward to Guardianses of the Galaxy sequels for years to come. This must be what people who hate Star Wars are feeling right now...

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