By Rebecca Daniel, Senior Staff Writer
I sit in a packed theater. The previews begin. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. Are these really still going on? “Dunkirk.” “Alien.” “Valerian.” “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “Thor: Ragnarok.” I’ve already eaten all the candy that I snuck in to the theater. No movie snack during the movie because these previews are so dang long. After 35 minutes of previews, the movie is actually starting. I watch as the Guardians of the Galaxy get involved in their space shenanigans. Bradley Cooper says something angry in a Joe Pesci-esque New York accent. The audience roars with laughter. It’s funny because he’s a raccoon, you see. The man sitting next to me repeats every line the Bradley Cooper raccoon says. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and the wrestler man meet up with Kurt Russell in a CGI wonderland. “I am Groot” says the baby tree voiced by Vin Diesel for the 15th time. How long have I been in this theater? Is it possible we’re approaching 3 hours? Will I ever get out?
Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge fan of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but I went into the sequel with an open mind. Maybe it would change my mind about the franchise. As you can tell, that was not the case.
Ensemble movies need a clear narrative to succeed and there is an issue finding that narrative in “Guardians 2.” The main plot hinges on Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finding his father, Ego (Kurt Russell). But that’s not enough for a script these days. You have to amplify it by a million. So the official plot description goes a little like this: The Guardians have to go on the run after stealing batteries from The Sovereign. Along the way they find Peter’s dad, Ego (the Living Planet). The Sovereign is ticked off about the Guardians stealing their batteries so they hire the Space Ravager community to hunt them down.
Alright so let’s take a minute to break this down. This whole movie happens because a raccoon steals batteries. I would love….no. I would pay big money to go back in time and watch the screenwriter write that scene.
Executive 1: Okay Tom, do you have our big scene yet? It’s gonna be the catalyst for the movie so it needs to be good.
Tom, the screenwriter: Oh yeah. It’s big. It’s really good. So I’m thinking it all revolves around Rocket Raccoon. You know, the audience loves him because he’s a raccoon, but it sounds like he’s from New York.
Executive 1: I know. It’s genius stuff. We’re making millions off that raccoon. So what did you write?
Tom: I’m thinking that the Guardians are on a mission to retrieve some golden batteries for this group called The Sovereign. They go to give them the batteries, but then they make a joke about Rocket being a raccoon. He does NOT handle that well because he’s defensive about his rodent persona. So he steals the batteries and that leads The Sovereign to chase them down then hire hit men to kill them.
Executive 1: Bri$$iant.
In all seriousness, the script is so concerned with unnecessary side plots and characters that the film drifts in dizzying directions.
Although that script description would lead you to believe otherwise, there are aspects to “Guardians 2” that I did find entertaining. The film has its fair share of humorous moments. Many of those moments are thanks to Chris Pratt, one of the movie’s highlights proving yet again he is action hero material as Star Lord. Another highlight is the throwback 70s soundtrack as a backdrop to some of the most pivotal scenes. There may be some ridiculous moments in this movie, but at least the music is good. I can’t forget to mention the impressive visual effects throughout the movie. One stand out moment of visual effects de-ages Kurt Russell back to his 30s. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s quite impressive.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a campy space adventure that’s high on spectacle and low on a decent script. If you’re looking for a comic book movie with a retro soundtrack where Kurt Russell’s son leads a group of misfits to save the world from evil, just watch “Sky High.”
2.5 out of 5 stars.