Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

look i know everyone who follows me probably knows i don't love marvel movies - i often find them to be hollow notches on this franchise's infinite conveyor belt to exhausting, enduring domination - but i can admit that i usually have a good time watching them and, sometimes, even like them. i like captain america, thor (CATCH THIS RAGNAROK HYPE TRAIN) - heck, i really liked the first guardians of the galaxy ... until i rewatched it and that ever-present emptiness revealed itself to be lurking underneath the bright, inventive exterior. but even with that, it's better than everything tony stark has ever touched. and even when i don't enjoy them, i would always say marvel movies are watchable. they're cinematic fast food - ignore the overt detriment for the fun, which is, sometimes, absolutely worth it.

so believe me when i say i wanted to like this. the entire premise is "messing about in space and everything is colourful and there are fleetwood mac songs and no goddamn joss whedon" IT SOUNDS SO GOOD ON PAPER. but this is a disaster. entitled, overlong, arrogant and even often outright cruel, this is the first time i've ever found myself wishing i were anywhere else while i was watching a marvel movie. the charm of the original is gone; the self-deprecating or defensively funny jokes in the first installment have been replaced by humour that more often than not crosses over into vague sadism. for instance, over the course of an hour, one (female, of course, and an asian caricature, of course) character is repeatedly told she is "disgusting" and "ugly" and "revolting" because ... it's funny? i guess? i don't get the joke but, in the same way that people cackled when they watched harley quinn get punched in the face needlessly, people in my cinema did. and that's just one example.

on the rare occasion that this movie's jokes do not involve one character being pointlessly mean to another one, they construct a lazy vortex of insufferable dramatic irony: we get the pop culture reference because we are smart. we can share something - an inside joke - with this indefatigable asshole of a protagonist, because we know what cheers is. in the first one, that was fun. cool, even. this time around, it's all about laughing at the idiots who don't get the joke. so this has something worse hiding under its surface than that relentless emotional emptiness: it's just mean.

i'm tired and i have work to do so i'm winding this up but another thing about this that actively disturbed me was how violent it was. i know superhero movies are about punching, but they don't usually ask you to care about a guy who an hour earlier spent like fifteen minutes gleefully slaughtering hundreds of people by stabbing them through the chest. you can't hide unnecessary brutality in primary colours. it just makes it uglier.

look, there are funny bits in this film - there's a particularly good pac-man reference, for instance. and sure, it could be a morality tale about how behaving like an entitled wanker is the ultimate villainous move, but in the end, it isn't, because it doesn't care enough to be. it infuriates me that this movie is probably going to get credit for being about how (male) entitlement is toxic. duh, of course it is - so it would be nice to see an actual exploration of the consequences of that, rather than whatever ... this is. (side note: i don't think this is asking too much of a franchise movie because a) the idea that something this expensive and this successful should be immune from actual critique is deafeningly asinine and b) it wants to be taken seriously - at least emotionally.) 

unforuntately, the actual moral of this film is that it's okay to be a cruel git to everyone you care about, as long as you can then dress up that awful behaviour as empathy in asshole's clothing. cool motive. still murder.

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