By Shazwan Zulkiffli
If there’s one thing we truly know about the only distant crew of misfits in the MCU so far, is that they know how throw a party in space.
Peter Quill and his crew of uptight but hilarious anti-heroes once again wreak havoc around the galaxy with another sick playlist comprising of artists from the 80s (yes, Peter’s choice of music is limited because he was kidnapped by the Ravagers from Earth at an early age). In a way, the heroes have grown in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as characters, like how Peter grew slightly bulkier and Groot became more annoying with his usual restricted vocabulary now delivered in a childish accent. Drax the Destroyer shines with a script that writes him as more than just a criminal hungry for vengeance while Gamora shows more humanity and compassion than ever before, though she’s still someone who ‘doesn’t dance’ – at the beginning, anyway. Rocket’s character is the only consistent one but hey, it’s always fun when he’s around.
Breaking Marvel’s formulaic structure in the lead up towards the mega event that is the Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy II is a short cafeteria break in the middle of a crazy schedule that also acts as a reminder to fans that the MCU isn’t all about the Infinity Stones. James Gunn pulled out another smart gambit to surprise fans by diverting the team to another story worth exploring: Peter Quill’s origins. Now, we know he’s from Earth, but up until the first GoTG movie, no one knew he had the capability to hold an Infinite Stone with his bare hands, hence leading Marvel to introduce Ego the Planet and his helper, Mantis. The direction of the film is adventurous for Marvel’s standards – everything felt comical and fun, with a sense of humour that was out of this world (literally).
Marvel Studios brilliantly laid out the ‘broken-family’ conflict from the start. Peter’s daddy issue symptoms were obvious from the start, and it’s only fair that the conflict gets resolved in the second movie. Ego, played by Kurt Russell, tracked down the Guardians to be reunited with his son Starlord in order to pick up where he left off as a father. The chemistry between Ego and Peter is slightly and understandably awkward, given the fact that the overwhelmed Peter Quill finally got to meet his father – who is a Celestial, a demigod who created his own planet, and is his own planet. What’s really interesting is how Marvel chose father-figure issue to be the backbone of the film as it was a major social problem in the late 80s, which was about the time when Peter was abducted. Generation X is an important part of the GOTG audience demographic and this effort to build bridges between the film and the fans is a thing to admire. Refocusing on Yondu as the father-who-was-there-all-along character was a good move in encouraging kids to understand the problem and look at it from a more complex.
However, the father-figure issue is the only element Gen X may be able to relate to, because Disney is definitely more biased towards the newer generation – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Many people enjoyed the cute and cuddly Baby Groot with his adorable shenanigans but whole idea of Baby Groot looks like a Minions-ish ploy to get people to buy toys, and it worked so well that GSC announced that their Baby Groot popcorn holder was sold out in a mere few days. To be frank, a small but vocal minority (including me) were annoyed with everything Baby Groot but, well, Disney has to serve the majority right?
According to reports, the director James Gunn handpicked the official soundtrack for the film. The new mixtape may not be as iconic as the first one (come on, they had David Bowie in the first movie!), but fighting monsters with Mr Blue Sky in the background? Why not. The highlights of the movie wouldn’t be as good as they are without some magic from Mr Cat Stevens, with his emotional father-figure song, ‘Father and Son’.
All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy was difficult to judge. Critics may not like it, but for fans – it was one hell of a ride. As a writer who is in the middle of that, I’d give the movie a 6.7/10. Not the best from Marvel, but it’s definitely no Age of Ultron. And by that we mean bad. Really.