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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is superior to the fun and frolicsome first entry in the franchise if, for no other reason, than the casting of Kurt Russell, former Disney waif turned cult actor, who has managed, somehow, to bridge the cinematic generation gap (previously by appearing in Furious 7, now by becoming a Marvel supervillain) and, like Donald Sutherland in The Hunger Games, become relevant again.
And Quentin Tarantino certainly hasn’t hurt his career any.
And it’s also interesting that it is happening just as his significant other seems to be doing the same by co-starring in the more successful than expected Amy Schumacher vehicle, Snatched.
I’m always ready to spread out the welcome mat for Russell and here he seems to be having the time of his life playing a maniacal psychopath with a God complex (appropriately named Ego no less) and the powers to back it up.
Guardians…2 is also more successful than the first because the plotting is smoother and less clunky (especially the climax) with the actors seeming even more relaxed in their roles as they play somewhat silly (in a good way) characters in a somewhat silly (in a good way), tongue in cheek spoof of space movies and superhero comic books.
For some reason I won’t delve into (because who really wants to delve into the psychological seesaw of screenwriters and their emotional issues), the whole plot is driven by daddy issues. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), our hapless hero who, like Rodney Dangerfield, never gets the respect he thinks he deserves, has never met his. So when he does (the aforementioned Ego), it’s easy to believe he might be bamboozled by fatherly apologies and regrets, playing catch with power balls and promises of untold powers.
Meanwhile, Nebula (Karen Gillian) wants to kill her sister Gamora (Zoë Saldana) because they’re dear old dad would pit them against each other. Wanting them both to be equals, he would replace Nebula’s body parts with robotic ones to even the playing field. But Gamora would still come out on top until Nebula become essentially an AI.
These developments lead everyone on a wild ride across the universe filled with a multitude of action scenes filled with state of the art CGI backed by the comic timing of Bradley Cooper as a talking raccoon; Michael Rooker as a Thing-like humanoid who is incapable of dishonesty; Pom Klementieff as an insectisoid empath; and last, but not least, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot who’s main superpower seems to be the inability not to steal whatever scene he’s in.
Though Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a refreshing day in from the heat, I will make one observation that will probably be the most controversial.
Pratt is an engaging actor, but I’ve seen little yet to suggest he is a particularly strong one. He seems best when relegated to second tier, such as his role in the television series Parks and Recreation.
But as a leading man, even a role as here that seems particularly tailored to him, though he passes, he is outshined by all those around him and doesn’t seem to have that something extra for top billing, something that I think has been shown by his miscasting in Passengers and that new Jurassic Park entry.
But still, he certainly doesn’t hurt anything and he does have a charm, as well as nice comic timing. So perhaps it’s best not to grumble.
With Sylvester Stallone in a cameo as Staker Ogord.
The clever and witty screenplay is by the director James Gunn and eight other people whose exact role in the procedure I’m not always sure how to parse.