Friday, May 05, 2017

GOTG 2: First screening spoiler-ful brain dump…

Saw GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 tonight for the first time—woo-hoo!

I'm not gonna go into much in the way of criticism of the film here except to say that it's a rockin' good time that goes deeper on character and a little shorter on plotting than the Volume 1. What I *am* gonna do is some half-baked comic book fanboy rambling and appreciation.

Gotta say, I was kind of WTF? when I realized that Sylvester Stallone's character, Grand Poobah of the Ravagers, was going by Stakar, who in the Marvel Universe is also known as Starhawk, aka "The One Who Knows." It seemed like a weird direction to take that namesake. Of course, it's still pretty much in line with Yondu's translation from page to screen, right?

I didn't think that while watching the movie, tho. What "fixed" Stakar for me was one of the end credits scenes, where we see Stakar saying how pleased he is to be able to reassemble old friends-slash-teammates, including Martinex (Stakar's crystalline right hand, Plutonian in the comics), Charlie-27 (superstrong Jovian in the comics, played by Ving Rhames), and Aleta (comics Starhawk's wife, played by Michelle Yeoh). This is Starhawk assembling a roster of the OGs, from the 30th century team of Marvel comics!

But—it's not to do any guardian-ing, but instead so they can go rob the heck out of the galaxy. Hrm…Some pretty heavy hitters—Sly, Ving, Michelle. How do they fit into upcoming MCU shenanigans? GOTG allies? GOTG imposters? Maybe their story-slash-heist unfolds in end credits scenes over a few movies? Right now they don't click in place for me.

Still, very fun to see the MCU's version of the 30th century OGs.

Tazerface! The reaction to that name in the film is so perfect! I wonder which Marvel writer created him and what s/he thinks about what's become of him? From what I remember of the comics, he was some kind of enhanced Badoon who had a personal beef w/the 30th century Guardians.

Nice to see Yondu upgrade his arrow fin tech to more closely match Marvel comics' Yondu's natural fin. Legitimately sad to see him go already, even if he did get a proper Ravager funereal sendoff. He got a pretty decent arc, and even though you could see the biodad vs. real dad conflict-slash-realization from 40 clicks away, the actual unfolding of it was pretty rewarding and okay, even a bit emotional. Nicely done, Rooker and Gunn!

Kurt Russell as Peter's dad. Kinda perfect. Ego as Peter's dad? Weird, but a good and creative answer to the question of MCU Peter Quill's paternity. I don't think comics Ego ever walked as a man, but I also don't think he was ever just a floating space brain, either. *Immediately* flashed to FUTURAMA. =)

I think I first met Ego in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR. Or maybe it was ROM? In any case, I thought he was part of the FF's universe, so was surprised to find him playing a part in the MCU. But then I remembered that when he met the FF, he'd already encountered Thor, so he's fair game as an Avengers connection. We did get one shot of Ego the Living Planet as he looks in the comics, a giant face defined by the landscape and funky organelles of the planet. I was hoping for more, tho, and maybe some of the funky macro-microbiological stuff from the comics, too, like humanoid antibodies and freaky scaled-up cells and organs, y'know? Instead, we get some gooey energy tendrils and Ego's Kurt Russell—and David Hasselhoff!—looking host body in various states of disrepair. Not bad, but y'know, a comic fanboy's heart wants what it wants—giant antibodies! =)

It's nice to see Mantis on the GOTG roster, but her introduction seemed a bit crowbarred in. Ego keeps her as a pet and sleep aide. Her unique empathic powers enable her to help Ego sleep, because apparently he has trouble sleeping? Would've been nice to get a better explanation for her presence. Maybe she helps tame Ego's growing insanity/instability?

Huh. Ego calls himself a Celestial, and Peter immediately asks him if he means that he's a god. So, MCU spacefarers are familiar with the term? Until Ego called himself one, I thought that Celestial referred exclusively to the giant space gods, one of whom's head has become the world-station known as Knowhere.

I think in the comics, Ego is a legitimate Elder of the Universe, like the Collector and Gamemaster. Celestial as a title for him doesn't seem quite right to me, but o well…

It *does* perhaps help with the logic of Mantis attaining a title of Celestial Madonna, tho.

I wish there was maybe one or two more scenes-slash-steps to Nebula and Gamora's hatchet burying, but the arc does work quite well. Also very touching and smart to have Peter's eulogy for Yondu—the part about searching for something for so long only to realize it was next to you all the time (would getting Survivor's "The Search is Over" have been too nail on the head?)—apply both to the sisters' bond as well as "this unspoken thing"/CHEERS-Sam-and-Dianne between Peter and Gamora.

The make-your-own-family theme is pretty irresistible. For a 40-something story consumer like myself, on paper that notion can seem trite and tired, but with these characters, and this writing, it still works on me. Several crescendos really helped, I think. Peter's reaction to Ego's admission of giving his mother that tumor (that was a smart stroke, no sympathy for Ego after that). Nebula's description of the duels Thanos forced on Gamora and herself, and the price she paid for her losses. Yondu and Rocket's breakthrough therapy session.

Heh. Nice to see Stan Lee as a distinct space-suited character in conversation with the Watchers on the surface of some planet or moon in one of the stargate jumps, and then in one of the end credits scenes. The Watchers actually walk away from him as he explains that he's still got more stories for them. Very nice. =)

In retrospect, I want to say that I should've seen the Adam Warlock cocoon coming when we were introduced to the golden-skinned Sovereign, but no, there was too much fun stuff going on with them to make me think of that while watching the movie. LOVE their ENDER'S GAME-y remote control space navy action.

But, yeah—Adam Frickin' Warlock! =)

Love the sweet laser balls weapons system on Yondu's heist ship, perfect for general offense and defense, reconfigurable for drilling into the core of a living planet, as well as a Death Blossom! =)

When Howard the Duck showed up again in a space bar where the Ravagers were hanging out, the audience reaction was loud enough that I couldn't catch any of his dialogue. Nuts.

Hrm…I think that's all I've got right now. I'm a bit frazzled when it comes to processing cinema right now as I'm coming off of eight days and 21 films of festivalizing. If I come up with more thoughts before my next GOTG2 screening, I may add/edit to this, and if a next screening fires up the tired synapses with more ideas, observations, and/or crazy talk, I'll ramble out a new post.

Keep on keepin' on~

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