You know how Rocket and Groot are on kids shirts? PG-13.
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
Hee hee hee. There is a weird sense of pride and shame that comes with full on belly laughing constantly through a movie when you go by yourself. I was that guy the entire time. I'm ashamed of myself, but I also knew that this might be the best way to experience Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I knew that I never had to have the movie live up to someone else's expectations. I could just enjoy the absolute silliness that this movie allowed me to experience. I'm not going to bury the lead: I love love love love loved this movie. I haven't had this much fun at the theater in a long time and it really gave the summer a good start. It's so weird that I find myself singing James Gunn's praises when he has a budget, but man alive, this movie was just the best.
I'm not going to bury it. I don't think I get such a great showstopping conclusion as ending with the following comment: Michael Rooker crushed it. I never saw it coming. It is the theme of this entire review and why I can praise James Gunn forever. Michael Rooker is a cult hero. He's never been the leader of my cult, but I enjoy him in movies. The problem with Rooker is that people love working with the silly guy that he is. He plays the over-the-top violent idiot in most things. I've listened to podcast after podcast with him and he is just as ludicrous as the characters he's played. But Rooker is the emotional center of this film. Perhaps I have been unjust in my portrayal of Michael Rooker, but I can't think where he's delivered that level of emotional intensity in other films that he's done. He's good. He always does the job he's needed. But usually when I'm watching his movies, I just see Michael Rooker. Admittedly, when I started this movie, I just saw Michael Rooker in blue paint again. But he transformed into a character that I sympathized with and grew emotionally attached to. He's great. And that's considering that he kills a ship full of people in this movie. Oops. Sorry. Spoilers. I have to blame the fact that I tend to overanalyze themes for the sake of this website, but we've seen this story before. Again, every story has been done and every moral has been preached. It now comes to how effective the final result is and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers on that. The idea that Yondu is the criminal moron with a heart of gold and that we actually care about that is pretty fascinating. The first movie only touches on this concept and makes Yondu to be a pretty unlikable guy. But for all the explosions and the cosmic tomfoolery going on screen, Yondu is pretty grounded. It isn't preachy -which for once is kind of a shame because I really like this idea of the man with regrets finding value in himself - but it does tell the story well.
Maybe it's just my obsession with fatherhood motifs that get me so jazzed for these storylines. I have Daddy issues, sorry. But balancing Rooker against Kurt Russell is only the more important. The major question left dangling from the first Guardians movie was about the identity of StarLord's father. As a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, I initially was really disappointed that Ego was going to replace J-Son of Spartax. The origin story is so cool in the comics and my inner fanboy couldn't initially get past the massive change to the storyline. There's something so clean about having a space dictator as a dad that brings baggage. Also, the fact that Peter Quill would have to be half-Celestial just rubbed me the wrong way. Gunn figured out a way to make this work. I'm going to put a caveat on this: there were times I shut my brain off for the logic to make sense. But the emotional core of this relationship was right. The "space dictator" aspect of the story was left intact, but it was compounded with a sense of insane righteousness that made the story even more bombastic than I thought possible. The first movie involved Thanos, Ronin, and the Infinity Stone. That movie seems quaint compared to the scale that what was presented in this movie. And it all stems from folks who clearly share the same Daddy issues I do. (I capitalize "Daddy". That might be part of my psychosis.) But the movie is big and I get annoyed by movies that simply try to be bigger than their predecessors. Bigger shouldn't mean better and yet, it worked here. Maybe my brain is just shutting off. Man, I wish I had a father figure to talk to about this this kind of stuff.
But I started off by saying how funny this movie is. It is really funny and I can I say thank you to God and the universe for providing us with Dave Batista. The guy went to acting school so he can play Drax. That guy nails it. 100% of his deliveries land and this is from a wrestler. I normally don't find James Gunn that funny. I find him crass and sadistic and mostly a bummer. Not out of Dave Batista's mouth. In a way, I'm selling out Nathan Fillion and Rainn Wilson because neither of them has the comic timing that a wrestler covered in green paint can pull off. That's so weird to me. I saw Batista in Spectre and rolled my eyes. He's in this? Please, all the time. He had the best lines in the first movie and I normally play it close to the vest when it comes to giving the best part of the first movie more to do. His story arc was nowhere to be seen in the sequel, but who cares? It let him tell all of the jokes as well. The more bizarre thing is that I like Dave Batista more than Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Zoe Saldana, and Bradley Cooper and I like all of them. Chris Pratt has his face all over this movie and he does a great job, but I was just itching to have Drax onscreen and telling ridiculous jokes.
The movie is great. I want to see it again and again. I'm a little sad that I didn't get to take my wife to see it, but she'll suffer through it at home on Blu-Ray. Also, let's shout out to the best Stan Lee cameo that could ever be. 'Nuff said.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.