Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 is a couple of hours of silliness but it’s very enjoyable silliness and a worthy successor to *Guardians of the Galaxy* .
I’m not sure how long it’s been since I last went to see a stand-up comedian live but in some respects I was reminded of watching Eddie Izzard perform. There were some of your more standard jokes woven throughout and there were a range of running gags and call-backs that really fit into just about any stand-up routine but, and what made me think of Eddie Izzard, along the way there’s this story that has just enough plot to make sense and keep not only me but the whole audience (from what I could tell) engaged and entertained but these side-trips into serious little meditations. In this case we had meditations on the meaning of family, your blood relatives, those who raise you and those you choose to live with.
While that might sound incredibly dull it’s the source of lots of the drama, as families so often are, and gives this film the another part of its successful format - the action spectaculars. We have space battles, hand-to-hand battles and more, a mix to delight everyone, well every sci-fi nerd, really.
Finally, of course, there’s the music, and we have a mixtape which rests quite heavily on some really big names - Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, ELO and Cat Stevens (as he was back then).
The sombre, quieter moments are the bits that suit the pacing of an action movie, rather than a stand-up set, those moments when the heroes stop and catch their breaths before the next confrontation.
I understand this won’t be to everyone’s taste. It is silly and, like watching a stand-up, if you don’t like the performer you won’t enjoy the show. Unlike *Ghostbusters* this doesn’t try to hit every flavour of comic note, it’s one person’s script. If you like that sense of humour it makes it funnier, if you don’t, you’re not going to like. I would say we saw it in a medium-sized but pretty full auditorium and just about everyone happily waited throughout the credits for the four (or was it five?) extra scenes that were included, as well as the appearances of “I am Groot” through the credits that were translated as they rolled by. In a time when all the superhero movies, and given this has infinity stones it’s in the same universe as Thor and The Avengers and so on, are getting someone ponderous and overblown, this is a lovely breath of irreverent fresh air where the jokes are told by an insider, someone laughing at the same things as us, rather than laughing at us. Ghostbusters never laughed at us, but invited everyone to laugh along, Guardians of the Galaxy has more of a feel of being for us - although given it’s dominating the box office in the US almost effortlessly, there are a lot of geek dollars out there.
I must also say, skating on the edge of spoilers, the opening scene strikes me as really brave. In just about any other film the focus would have been completely different but I loved the cold open we had here.
Bechdel test: Absolutely. Nebula and Gamora had a heart to heart on a couple of occasions and while their conversations were bookended with mentions of their dad, the bulk of the conversations were about each other. There were other bits too, but those bits stand out.
Russo test: No. There were a couple of occasions where I might have blinked and missed it in crowd scenes but everyone in the MCU is still straight it seems.
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