Movie Review: The Guardians Of Vaudeville
What makes a movie a “good” movie? Is it how well it adheres to a format while still expanding its genre and leaves the audience impressed with its originality and creativity? Is it how effectively it leaves an impression on the audience’s mind regardless of tact or method? If you would say the latter, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a must watch for you. If the former sounds more accurate, you’ll be more than a little disappointed. I’m not here to say which (if either) is right, but here’s a glance at one of spring’s biggest blockbusters, and you can decide.
In the second volume of this space-musical we’re reintroduced to the intergalactic heroes for hire: Drax (Dave Bautista), the extremely volatile alien warrior; Rocket (Bradley Cooper), the smart-mouth genetically-engineered raccoon weapons expert; Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), the respawned version of their powerful tree-like friend with a way with words; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the most perfect assassin and soldier to be genetically engineered; and Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), the goofy strategic genius who was born on earth and raised by space-pirates. While returning Gamora’s sister (Karen Gillan) to custody, they run into Peter’s absentee father: Ego (Kurt Russell). While Peter struggles to absorb the knowledge of the uniqueness of his father’s species, Gamora and Drax uncover a more sinister nature to this family reunion.
If there’s one thing that can be said about GotG 2, it’s that it. Is. Hilarious. After working hard in the first film to establish these characters as the unique and quirky beings that they are, they were really able to capitalize on it in the sequel. The terrific acting strengthened the chemistry of this hodgepodge comradery to give that feel-good group chemistry. That being said, there was a bit of a problem with this surge of jokes, and that is that they went overboard (which is a particularly bad thing to do in space). Several scenes in the film could have been cut and the story would have lost nothing. Filler scenes are beneath a film with the resources a Marvel film has, and while delightful, it was also rather frustrating.
The jokes weren’t the only thing eating up screen time. There was a subplot about the now superfluous space-pirates. Notice how it wasn’t mentioned in the plot summary? Because it had little to no effect on the storyline of the film. However, it took up nearly half of the entire movie! Space-pirates are an audience pleaser, but let the Guardians carry their own film. They’re audience pleasers too, and that’s who the audience came to see.
What the audience literally saw was worth mentioning. The visual effects of the 3D aspect of the film were second to none. This is particularly commendable. Since 3D started to make a comeback (let’s credit that to Avatar), most directors weren’t 100% how to best utilize the effect. The balance between making it spectacular but not distracting is a thin line to walk. Director James Gunn walks that line like Charles Blondin (you thought I was going to say Johnny Cash, but now I’m making you look stuff up). If you don’t like 3D, that’s your opinion, but you’ll be missing half of the movie, and the $3 you saved on getting the 2D just ripped you off. The 3D experience puts you right in the action, letting you appreciate the detailed scenery, CGI, and the top-notch acting.
All the cool effects in the world don’t buy the audience’s time back though, and putting humor above substance was a risky move that leaves the audience with the short side of the wishbone. Don’t misinterpret my criticism, I’m glad I saw it (twice even), but they were so close to something so much better, it saddened me to see them burn through their run-time how they did. Like if your son was a competitive sprinter who came in second only because he took the time to wave to you during a race. A little less winking to the audience, and this film could have taken gold.