Piotrek: Guardians of the Galaxy came out before we started this blog, so I will start with some praise for Volume 1. It is one of my favourite MCU movies, definitely one that made me laugh most (remember, Deadpool is part of the Fox’s side of Marvel). Guardians had superb soundtrack, great team of characters that really worked together, extremely entertaining plot and it took the MCU to the space, introducing characters and places that will be important for the culmination that Infinity War needs to be. It was all put together so well I had no problem with slight inconsequences and a weak villain. And it gave us Groot 😉
Volume 2 is even better. Not as fresh, but seamless, within the framework of its genre – kind of perfect. It’s very different from Logan, but both these movies prove to me that superhero genre matured to the point where it deserves to dominate cinemas. If it all goes downhill from here, I’ll be happy to re-watch what we already have.
Ola: Yes indeed, Guardians vol. 2 seem to be even better than their predecessor, and that is a feat in itself, as no. 1 was an awesome romp through the adventure and SF genres, with an added secret ingredient – family dramedy :). This time around there’s much more of family drama, and – surprisingly – of SF. A great, complicated not-entirely-villain with the rugged, trustworthy face of Kurt Russel makes for a compelling counterpart to the already established team of the Guardians, and the chemistry between the protagonists takes this movie far beyond what we usually expect from movies based on comic books – or at least MCU.
Piotrek: It’s a team of characters that really care for, and complement each other. The main cast is more or less equal, no one is added just to prepare us for his next movie, although some cameos might be signs that something new is in the works… maybe Stallone will join the MCU permanently ;)? Anyway, this is about a family of choice, trust earned, friendship, and love, not necessarily romantic. There are so many heart-warming moments…
Ola: I can only admire the courage of the creators to stay true to their original unabashed cheesiness and that kind of sweet naivety I had thought perished a long time ago, sometime around early to mid-eighties. In this aspect the movie reminds me of E.T., and The Goonies, and Indiana Jones of course 😉
Piotrek: Nerwriter, in his latest video-essay says: Superhero movies get old, and tells us how Logan and Deadpool, differently but in both cases brilliantly, deal with this problem. He starts with a quote:
And I mostly agree. I would also say, that when a genre is able to produce a movie so unabashedly straightforward and sell it to such a wide audience, it’s still very much alive and kicking.
Ola: As before, the soundtrack forms an integral part of the movie – it’s an evocative illustration of the plot more subtle points, highlighting certain moments, playing other, less subtle, for the sheer fun of it. As a child of eighties, raised largely on the music of seventies, I feel avenged :).
Piotrek: I’m not a big fan of the original eighties. I discover them, a piece at a time, when I want to trace the inspirations of a modern pearl like this one. E.T., Indie, I’ve seen that, and it was great, but the general aesthetics of the decade, its music… I need a pretext to enjoy it unironically 😉 And Guardians provide such pretext, I love than soundtrack despite hearing some of the songs for the first time – in the cinema.
Ola: I won’t delve into the plot, it’s fun enough that I wouldn’t want to spoil it to anyone. Suffice to say I loved the inclusion of Ego, the crazy-ass idea of a living, conscious planet, and the great comeback of Yondu which left me, in the end, in tears. There aren’t as many action scenes as before, and some critics pointed that out as a weak point. To me, the decision to focus more on the psychology of the characters and their complex relationships was a perfect one. I had been seriously fed up with the “all action no thought” pace of Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War, designed to cover the enormous holes in the plot. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 or Logan are smarter than that, leaving a space for their characters to breathe and grow. But there are plenty scenes of action, too. The pirate mutiny aboard Yondu’s ship is great, and the opening sequence with Groot dancing through the carnage – precious. I’m not a fan of the final fight, it’s always damningly difficult to make a good show of a battle between godlike, all-mighty contenders that doesn’t end in total destruction – human imagination seems somewhat limited in that aspect. Still, sticking a Pac-Man into it was a mastery in itself.
Piotrek: Yondu putting down the mutiny… just wow! And there was action enough, definitely, just not only action.
Ola: A couple words about dubbing. Yes, I have seen the dubbed version – it was the first MCU movie watched in the cinema by my seven-year-old, and his English – or fast reading skills – still need some working on before we go to see the regular version. I expected the worst (Harry Potter with Polish dubbing, anyone?), but the dubbed version was surprisingly painless, all things considered. Of course, most of the verbal jokes were lost in translation, but the voiceover was pretty seamless and the voice actors a decent fit.
Piotrek: I’ll take your word on that, not going to check it myself. Dubbing worked for Baldur’s Gate games and Shrek, but as a rule – it’s evil.
Ola: My favorite scenes? Mary Poppins scene, of course, especially as a counterweight to the previous Yondu-Destroyer incarnation. Groot debating hats with Rocket and Yondu was simply hilarious, and I must admit I have never expected to be fond of David Hasselhoff before – but here we are ;). I’m just thanking the gods it wasn’t McGyver…
Piotrek: The only Hasselhoff I liked. Either he’s way cooler than I used to think, or they pay really well 😉 McGyver could be… too much, even here.
Ola: The weaker bits are few and far between, and for me the only one was the Sovereign. I realize the gold race served as a plot vehicle and comic relief at the same time, but that made them into much weaker villains that they could have been – especially with their super-advanced technology and totalitarian-hierocratic society structure we only catch glimpses of. The sole clue that they might be more formidable than they appear is an after-credits scene hinting at [spoiler alert!] their creation of Adam Warlock.
Piotrek: Yes, the Sovereign are a bit like USA of today… you kind of know it’s a powerful nation, but you take a look at the leader and just can’t treat it too seriously…
Ola: Lastly, I loved the implementation of somewhat expanded idea of a “brain in a vat” – and its broad philosophical, and ethical, implications. Can a conscious being evolving in solitude be moral? Is there a morality beyond a community, beyond “we”, however defined? Of course, Guardians don’t ponder philosophical questions, but the fact that these are here, and play a significant role in the plot, is for me a truly commendable achievement – especially considering that despite all those heavy-weight themes the movie remains light-hearted and pure fun.