7 May 2017

Marvel Shows Off Its Ego

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 has quite probably the greatest opening ten minutes of any Marvel movie yet. Beginning on Earth in a flashback sequence set in the 1980's, we see a young Kurt Russell enjoying a day out with who we know to be the mother of Chris Pratt's Peter Quill. "Hang on!", I hear you say, "As cool as Kurt Russell is, I'm pretty sure that even he has aged slightly over the last thirty years!" Well, as was the case with Downey Jr. in Civil War, Marvel seem to have access to the most cutting edge technology and have de-aged him to the point of absolute believability. I can only assume that this technology is known as "a fucking time-machine" because, trust me, it's fucking crazy how good it is. I'm one of those people who spent their teenage years shunting nights out looking for pubs that might serve my underage self in favour of nights in watching old John Carpenter movies. My younger self was what you might call 'a cool motherfucker'. As a result, the image of a younger Kurt Russell is something that I've spent so many hours staring at that it's pretty much burnt onto my fucking retina, with what we see here matching it perfectly.


However, that's only the first few minutes of the movie, and I claimed that the opening ten minutes was possibly the best opening in the MCU. Well, from here, we cut back to modern day with our gang of Guardians tasked with protecting some glowing sci-fi battery shit from a giant alien thing that looks like a cross between an octopus and a really angry testicle. Before the action kicks in and we're treated to a giant smash-a-thon of computer generated effects, a radio begins to blast out E.L.O.'s Mr Blue Sky and Baby Groot begins to dance. If you can find me a song that's more capable of bringing a smile to peoples faces than Mr Blue Sky then I'm going to have to piss test you and check for traces of ecstasy because there basically isn't one. The last film in this series had everything from jail break-outs, intergalactic dog fights, and a city existing inside a giant floating skull. The most memorable moment for most people though was when a small potted twig had a secret dance to The Jackson Five whilst an alien sharpened his knife behind him, trying to catch him in the act. Well, the opening to this movie is like that small sequence but on crack, as all we see of the exciting battle is what we catch in the background as Baby Groot dances throughout. There are lots of words to describe this sequence from 'funny' to 'cool' to 'cute'.. but I think I'll just stick to 'it was fucking brilliant!'

Ironically this is Vin Diesel's least wooden performance
In many ways, this opening kind of shows what works so well with this series and why the film takes a slight misstep later on. In our cynical world of brief-case wankers and studio executives who we have to assume have a hatred of taking creative risks which is equal only to their love of rubbing money onto their genitals, you'd think that a sci-fi film would focus more on spectacle than anything else. However what makes Guardians so good is that we love the weird characters and their interplay with each other more than anything else in the movie. I'd much rather watch Baby Groot dance over a giant laser fight because I can see a laser fight in a million other movies, however there's not many to feature a dancing block of wood. Well, except for the Footloose remakes' entire cast, perhaps. The biggest problem of the film is that there's about a twenty-minute section near the end which kind of forgets this a little and does fall kind of close to Man Of Steel's computer generated clusterfuck of a conclusion. Although in Guardians' defence, the third-act C.G. action is artsy-as-balls being that it takes place on a planet full of bright colours and trippy shapes. So yes, it's a shame that the film forgets for a second that the characters interactions are more fun than all of the loud bangs, however even then it's creative enough to only be like watching Man Of Steel if you'd just drank the contents of a fucking lava lamp.

That tiny little misstep aside however, the main selling point of this movie must surely be its heart, with Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 being surprisingly emotional. In fact, it hadn't really occurred to me until I watched this film, but I'm not sure there's been many emotional moments in the MCU at all? I suppose this is the problem with a series in which all of your characters have the life-saving insurance of a contractually obligated appearance in a sequel. I guess I was a tiny bit sad when Coulson died in The Avengers.. but.. not really. I'm an only child too, with nerdy tendencies and a hoarder quality about me, so when the Collector had his room destroyed I suppose I was pretty fucking devastated for him. I began getting flashbacks to when I was about eleven and my fucking moron cousin deleted my save file on Pokemon Yellow. That was thirty hours of my life down the pisser. Fucking prick. Other than that, I suppose there was Steve's icey suicide attempt in Captain America: The First Avenger, and most affectingly was Groot's protective cocoon in the previous Guardians movie.

Well, in this movie, they really do up the emotion with the film going full Fast And The Furious by having people bang on about family. Although, unusually for a film that also features Vin Diesel, you get the feeling that they know what the word 'family' actually means, having English instead of Potato for their first language. Rocket is essentially Groot's Dad, Nebula and Gamora have a sister thing going on, and Quill is between his two fathers of Yondu and Ego. The film might be super funny over all, but that's only because the characters are funny, which is a pretty effective way of endearing us to them. They're also all pretty tortured characters hiding a deep well of pain behind their in-your-face bravado, which is a fun thing to say of a film that features a talking racoon and a Stallone cameo in which his costume is suspiciously close to Judge fucking Dredd's. It's also a credit to director James Gunn that despite helming a big budget movie that's part of an ongoing story for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his vibe is undeniable. In fact, I think you could argue that this film is pretty much a cross between the first Guardians Of The Galaxy and his directorial debut Slither. Although I suppose to explain why would be a spoiler, and as the person who sat in front of me at the cinema and decided to spend most of their time on their phone will hopefully find out.. there's a special bollock-kicking room in Hell for people who spoil movies.

In regards to Slither, it might also come as some surprise to find that Michael Rooker is possibly the most memorable thing in this movie. Not that Rooker stealing a movie is a surprise, but considering the headcrushing cuteness of Baby Groot, I wasn't expecting him to be the character that sticks in my mind after the film was over. I might have slagged off the third-act action scene, but in the way that I think the first ten minutes of this film is the best in the MCU, I think that the final three might be the best too. Again, I don't want to say too much because giving away the final few seconds of a film generally counts as spoiler, but from the moment we hear Cat Stevens, the film returns to the charm of its weird characters with a touching combination of Nightrider and Wrath Of Khan. I guess this film probably isn't quite as good as the first, but that's only because the first is propelled slightly more by a stronger story. In the case of this film, it's mostly just the characters that we love cracking on with their separate shit, with it all coming together at the end. However being that the characters are what makes this franchise so strong, I think I can live with that. In many ways it's a shame that the plot had to kick in and we couldn't just have a film in which we hang out with them all. Alas, I still loved the movie and, like Kurt Russell's character claims his penis to be, it's really not half bad. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.