Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
I saw a bit of the trailer for this, and hoped seeing a big fight with a massive monster on a platform wasn't going to spoil anything. Turns out I shouldn't have worried, because that was just a setup to one of the funniest opening credit sequences I've ever seen. Oh my god I was laughing so much by five minutes into this movie, I thought I wasn't going to make it.
It was way better and way funnier than a sequel has any right being, and exceed my expectations. I don't think it's a better movie than Volume 1, as there are issues with pacing and storytelling, and character motivations that weren't so apparent in the first one, but it was equally funny and entertaining, and that's pretty much all I want from Groot and the gang.
My major complaint was the use of music. The Awesome Mix in the first movie was a great gag, and a great storytelling device, and it always felt natural. In Volume 2 it's something that's given too much weight, even to the point of it giving the movie its name. I could get past a few heavy handed uses of music, but it got a bit clunky. At one point a track came on again, and I turned to Juliane and said "This is going to be the turning point of the movie" and, sure enough, it was.
And then, at one point, Quill is off on another planet, but the director still wanted to play some cool music. I think it would have been fine to just have some cool music playing, but Rocket had to say a line like "Hey, do we have anything from Quill's mix tape?" and then they play it... for no reason? It feels like there's a disconnect from the first movie, where this is Quill's favourite music, and everyone else thinks he's a dumb dork for liking it and dancing to it, and Volume 2, where everyone thinks it's cool.
Secondly, I found the tone of the movie switched about a bit. I personally liked it, but it was jarring how much they pushed the "death is cool" thing from the first movie. In that movie there was the whistle arrows killing lots of people instantly, and Groot smashing lots of baddies against walls. But they were diffused by the baddies being non-human (and Groot smiling) and the whistle arrow killing so fast it was funny.
In Volume 2 there is a scene which lots of people die. It count have been accomplished by a space ship blowing up, and pretty much every other movie would have taken this step. But in Volume 2 we see every single death, both the person killing and the person dying, mostly in slow motion. For me it went right up to the line of "Hey, this is not cool" but somehow didn't cross it. While I don't think I'd show it to a 10 year old kid, I appreciated the confidence of the director to show this on screen.
Main bad guy:
Not a surprise to anyone.
Comments from Juliane:
"I want a Baby Groot"
"Again, can Rocket Racoon be in every movie?"
Stan Lee cameo:
As far as I could tell, he's recounting his stories from all his other appearances in the MCU movies to aliens. Does that mean he's an inter-dimensional being who is in the MCU, learning the stories of heros and villains, ready to come back to our universe to share the stories with us via comics? I haven't read the speculation, but that interpretation works for me.
Funny! And not just funny lines. Actual funny movie making. It made me think of this youtube video, and made me wonder if, after Ant Man, the producers got Edgar Wright to do a pass on the script or storyboard to make sure there was funny visual comedy going on, and not just get Joss Whedon to look at the dialogue to make sure it had enough quippy lines.
I mean, shit, Groot and the bomb at the end was some of the best material I've ever seen in a climactic battle, both in terms of comedy AND raising the tension.
Next up... Oh shit we're all caught on on MCU movies!!!