Parkland Press

Friday, October 20, 2017

Movie Review: ‘Guardians’ turns up the ‘Volume 2’

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” brings the usual crew of galactic misfits back for an entertaining mix of 1970s-era mix-tape music, galactic shenanigans and a summer movie season of bountiful quips.

The best part, though, is that writer-director James Gunn was to the movie superhero spoof genre born (writer-director, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” 2014; “Super,” 2010; “Slither,” 2006; writer, “Dawn of the Dead,” 2004; “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” 2004; “Scooby-Doo,” 2002; “The Specials,” 2000; “Tromeo & Juliet,” 1996).

“GOTG” or “GOG,” for short, is the culmination of Gunn’s skewed view of the universe, and especially the Hollywood movie and graphic novel, i.e., comic book, universe, ergo, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3” announced, look for more cartoony mayhem on the big screen.

“GOG” gives cinema fan boys and girls what they want: lots of fly-boys and girls in space action, mega explosions, and snarky-snark dialogue that will make them, and possibly you, coming back for more.

The quips fly by so fast and furious (“You shouldn’t have killed my mom and squished my Walkman,” says Quill to Ego), as do the TV (“Cheers,” 1982-1993), music (an analysis of the lyrics of “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass (1972) and movie references (“Mary Poppins,” 1964) that repeated viewings may be necessary to take it all in.

For this review, “GOG” was seen in the 3D format. And it’s a hoot. The film-makers spare no expense with in-your-face effects. This is one film worth the extra ducats for the 3D format.

While spectacular effects are all well and good, and they are excellent in “GOG,” and quips are the name of the game in action and science-fiction films, and they are great fun in “GOG,” the best aspect about “GOG” is, in two words: character development. “GOG” seems to give the movie-goer more information, back story and screen time with the characters than in the 2014 movie.

The origin storyline about Peter Quill, aka Star-lord (a terrific Chris Pratt) makes each character a part of the plot. Quill discovers that he’s only half-human. His mother was an Earthling. His father is a god (with a small g) and a big name, Ego (a fun Kurt Russell).

Quill is still trying to work things out (“It’s an unspoken thing.”) with Gamora (a wonderful Zoe Saldana, Neytiri, “Avatar,” 2009; Uhura, “Star Trek,” 2009), as well as with his rambunctious Guardians: Drax (Dave Bautista, TV’s “WWE Raw, Smackdown,” 2002-14, with a stronger and more fleshed-out role), Yondu (Michael Rooker, also excellent from behind the makeup), Rocket (a superb CGI character with the almost unrecognizable but effective voice of Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (an adorable CGI character with the equally-unrecognizable but effective voice of Vin Diesel).

In a subplot, Gamora must work out sibling rivalry with her sister, Nebula (a very strong Karen Gillan). Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is a fascinating addition to the crew. Also look for Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone, in a nice, if brief, appearance). Among the Ravagers, a “Mad Max”-like assortment of villains, a standout is Taserface (Chris Sullivan).

“GOG” turns up the volume in effects, plot and characters. This is even evident in several cameos: Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), Grandmaster (an uncredited Jeff Goldblum), Zardu Hasslefrau (David Hasselhoff, uncredited), and one of the most derided characters in cinema history, Howard the Duck (voiced by Seth Green), from the 1986 movie flop.

Screenplay credits note that “GOG” is based on Marvel Comics characters created by Dan Abnett, as well as specific characters, Star-lord, created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan; Glamora and Drax, created by Jim Starlin; Groot, created by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber, and Rocket Raccoon, created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen.

The CGI (Computer Generated Animation) blends Baby Groot and Rocket flawlessly in scenes with the human and semi-human characters. A lot of credit for keeping “GOG” grounded goes to Pratt, whose expressive face, reactive eyebrows and big eyes give the movie-goer a relatable window to the story and action.

Part of the fun is the ironic use of circa-1970s’ music from that “Awesome Mix-Tape No. 2” (from the cheesy “Come A Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans to the revered, “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison).

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” defies expectations. It’s a must-see for fans of the first. And it bodes well for “Volume 3.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2,”MPAA PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content; Genre: Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction; Run time: 2 hrs., 15 mins.; Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” has not one, but five, count ‘em, five scenes during the end credits, foreshadowing future “GOG” and other Marvel Cinematic Universe plot points. The phrase “I Am Groot” appears several times and morphs into credits. Actors in character dance, wink and vamp to the music. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee has two cameos as Astronaut, including one in the end credits. So far this year, “GOG” gets the CRA (Credit Readers Anonymous” Best End Credits award.

Box Office,May 12: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continued its orbit at No. 1 for two weeks, with $65.3 million, $248.4 million, two weeks, far ahead of two opening films, “Snatched,” the Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn comedy, $19.5 million, one week, and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” $15.4 million.

4. “The Fate of the Furious,” dropped two places from No. 2 with $5.4 million, $215.1 million, five weeks.

5. “Beauty and the Beast” held at No. 5, $4.8 million, $494.1 million, nine weeks.

6. “The Boss Baby” bounced down three places from No. 3 with $4.5 million, $162.3 million, seven weeks.

7. “How to Be a Latin Lover” dropped three places, with $3.9 million, $26.3 million, three weeks.

8. “Lowriders,” $2.4 million, opening.

9. “The Circle” rotated down three places, with $1.8 million, $18.9 million, three weeks.

10. “Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” dropped two places, with $1.6 million, $19 million, three weeks.

Unreel,May 19:

“Alien: Covenant,”R: Ridley Scott directs Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride in the Horror - Sci-Fi - Thriller prequel to the classic “Aliens” film about the crew of a colony ship bound for a remote planet.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,”PG: David Bowers directsAlicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Charlie Wright and Jason Drucker in the Family-Comedy about the Heffley family road trip to Meemaw’s 90th birthday party. This is the fourth reboot, er, remake, based on a popular children’s and teenagers’ book series by Jeff Kinney.

“Wakefield,”R: Robin Swicord directs Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner, Jason O’Mara and Beverly D’Angelo in the Drama based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow’s short story

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes