This film is way better than the first one.
I am prepared to accept that I am a sap (ha), because: baby Groot is the best thing about this film. And Yondu is a close second. Also Kurt Russell. Fight me.
Baby Groot: yes, I find the dancing adorable. It’s fabulous CG – and mostly the emotion is in the eyes, I guess – and I don’t care how manipulative it is. He’s hilarious. Utterly predicable but the bring-me-my-fin scene is fantastic. The opening credits are some of the best I’ve seen; and the way every other character loves him is adorable.
Yondu: probably one of the most compelling side-characters of the series. He gets a genuinely epic arc in this film and I love it.
Kurt Russell: finally an antagonist who makes GotG worthwhile. And, please note, another actor playing (mostly) against type. Although when you hear that a character’s name is Ego there should be very little surprise when he turns out to be a galactic-sized douche. I love everything about Russell’s performance here. I love that he starts out as the heart throb, and that he morphs into the elder statesman who is still approachable and then turns out to be a magnificent megalomaniac.
This film was a lot of fun to watch the first time – and unlike the first one, still completely holds up. Quill is still an arrogant, self-righteous ass with few redeeming features except for his love of his mother. But Gamora is awesome (again/still), I love Mantis, and Nebula has a much bigger and more interesting role here. The soundtrack isn’t quite as epic – or maybe it just isn’t such an extravagant gesture as it was in the first film – but the use of “Tusk” was magnificent.
Maybe this works better for me because the narrative is more … contained, I think. More personal. In the first one the Guardians all fall into it, and – except for Gamora – none of them really have any skin in the game. They just fight because they basically have to. Here, it’s personal, and I think that makes the characters work better; more believably, perhaps; it makes me care more. (Also, see previous comment about a better antagonist.)
Also, the cameos. Sylvester? Ving? MICHELLE YEOH?! (And Ben Browder, who… actually with this audience maybe people will know him, thanks to both FarScape and Stargate SG:1.) Plus THE HOFF.
This is… a weird film.
Like a lot of other people, when it first came out I really, really liked it. I liked the soundtrack (which must have cost a mint); I liked that it was so different from everything else to date; I liked that it was funny!
Now I feel… a little different. Partly this is an emotional reaction to Peter Quill, which is largely framed by his stupidity in the later Avengers films. And watching this film, it’s completely obvious that that later stupidity is absolutely part of his character from the get-go. Which is fine storytelling but doesn’t make me like him any more. There’s a level of arrogance that matches Tony Stark without being offset by Stark’s intelligence (which is not necessarily a mitigating factor; see previous comments about liking Stark being problematic), or his self-awareness, or – frankly – his flare.
The film itself is a bit odd. It has probably the most traumatic opening of any MCU film – certainly of the films so far – and then all of a sudden, Quill is dancing through the rubble of an alien planet. That’s pretty weird. This is also the film where we properly meet Thanos, and find out about infinity stones, and that’s absolutely key to the overarching narrative – in this oddball, eccentric film! On reflection that seems like a bizarre choice. I guess it speaks to the inherent cohesion of the entire universe – or something.
I think Bradley Cooper was a great choice to voice Rocket, and I definitely continue to enjoy the raccoon. A super weird character (thank goodness there’s no more than 5 seconds of Howard the Duck) who manages to display a whole swag of emotions, largely courtesy of a tree. Because again, let’s be honest: Groot is also a super weird character. Don’t get me wrong: I love Groot, and getting Vin Diesel for this point continue to amuse me no end. The most poignant moment of the whole film is given to a tree! (Djimon Hounsou has probably the funniest line, which is just his “who?” at Peter “I am Starlord” Quill). Zoe Saldana is excellent, and brings a nice ambiguity to Gamora; her “I am going to die surrounded by idiots”? – I FEEL IT. Dave Bautista is… well. Drax. Not much you can say about him.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for Lee Pace’s Ronan. I don’t know Pace’s other work much (except as Thranduil, which hardly counts), but he was just… wooden, here. I suspect that, like Christopher Eccleston as Malekith in the second Thor, this can largely be attributed to the overwhelming makeup. But Ronan was a boring villain, with vague and largely unexplained motivation, and I just didn’t care that much. Which is always a problem when the narrative revolves around omg it’s [insert villain] we must stop him!!
Glenn Close swearing, though, is pretty great.