I haven’t written anything on here in over a month and haven’t been particularly inspired by any films lately. The first Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty dull post cinema. There is something about a big-budget blockbuster that makes it lose its shine on the re-watch on a smaller screen. In the cinema (I saw it in iMAX 3D) it was entertaining and the visuals were actually quite mesmerising, but watching it again felt like a chore. I got about half way and thought ‘I’ve seen this, so whats the point’. There is a limit to most of the Marvel films, even ones as edgy as the first Guardians. Now, coming out of the sequel, I felt like the film may have more longevity.
For a start, it is far more character driven than it is plot driven. The plot is thin and loose and writer/director James Gunn is focusing more on the interplay between the characters. A lot of this, like many major films, appears like added fat, however there are certain arcs that are interesting. For example Yondu played by Michael Rooker is a conflicted criminal with far more baggage than first seems. He is equally compassionate as he is evil, and the criminal underbelly he is a member of is probably the most intriguing part about this world. This character driven plot allows the film to have more compelling set pieces, because they basically mean nothing. If there is no plot behind an action scene, then the director can play with it more due to it not really needing a place to end up.
One way that Gunn does this, is through a comedic set-up, and in a way a sitcom one. There is a scene in this film where Rocket (Brad Coops) and Yondu are held captive by the hilarious space pirate Tazer-face. To escape, they need the help of Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), who is free because he is ‘too adorable to be killed’. What follows is Rocket and Yondu trying to explain to Groot what they need to escape (Yondu’s head thing) and he keeps coming back with the wrong thing. Okay, so firstly, why is this scene here? It is here because it leads to another set piece (a mass murder one), but mostly so that Gunn can present something to the audience. He can present something that is both funny and incongruous to the rest of the film. The whole scene plays out like a sitcom-misunderstanding premise. It is like watching a scene from Seinfeld or Porridge, and it had the whole screening in fits of laughter. James Gunn is presenting a piece of art here, a moment to strike a particular emotion from the audience, rather than piece in a puzzle that reaches a ‘satisfying end’.
All of the best films in history have been about the journey and not the destination. Guardians of the Galaxy is an anomaly in a bloated Marvel Universe, where the writer/director has creative control over the project. And in this sequel, he plays around a lot more with it. He is able to craft a film of his choosing, and mould together scenes that are expertly put together and humorous in content. The greater themes of loss and mortality never really land, but I think it’s remarkable the scope of film-making that is achieved in this cluster of a space adventure.