Guardians is a sweet launch of summer blockbusters.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Director: James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana
Runtime: 2hr 16 min
by John DeSando
“Sometimes, the thing you've been looking for your whole life, is right there beside you all along.” Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)
Although a cliché like that shouldn’t be allowed on any screen or stage, in the hands of filmmakers responsible for the amusing and sometimes serious Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it makes a sweet leitmotif that serves the large family-searching theme.
Yes, this comic sci-fi is not Shakespeare or Sophocles, but it does allow classic motifs to be enclosed in wise-cracking and explosions as the Guardians return from a rousing first volume to keep the noise high along with the humanity of earth ‘70’s—the opening sequence featuring the pop tune Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) ushers in a sound track full of blasts from that turbulent time.
Central to the serious side, Peter is faced with the father he never met, appropriately named Ego, played ever so craftily and cavalierly by the durable Kurt Russell. You say you’ve already gone through daddy issues in summer movies, and you’d be right. However only the 1977 Star Wars with Luke, Han, and Darth is a bit ahead of the light and dark in this version.
After all, James Earl Jones is all voice while Kurt Russell is all boy- man: complicated, evil, and loveable at the same time. When Peter and he face off, I actually felt the tension every man-child in the audience remembers about his dad. In true Greek tragic form, the sisters are not left out either: Gamora (Zoe Saldana) struggles with her bad-girl sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan). No, it’s not classical drama, but it is at least a worthy sequel to a version of the first Guardians at which even Aristophanes would chuckle.
Praise goes to director/writer James Gunn. Who spreads the love among the characters, most of whom are searching for identity or a respected reputation among a family of crewmembers prone to insult each other as social sport.
Captain Peter does double emotional duty between his father and his unspoken love, Gamora. Fortunately Pratt, Having played the mediocre hero of the latest Jurassic Park, is low key enough an actor to do no serious damage to the demands of heavy-duty plotting, and Russell, well, is a pro at mixing the ridiculous with the sublime.
But, hey, this is the beginning of summer blockbusters, where classical dramatic tropes are not usually on the menu. What is so delectable, however, is the constant rattle of ironic lines like,
“You killed my mom! And squished my Walkman!” (Peter) That’s the sound of summer fun.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com