Turn down the vol­ume

The fol­low-up to the 2014 smash has more quips, more kitsch and more spec­ta­cle. So where’s the plot, asks Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TICKET REVIEWS -

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2 Di­rected by James Gunn. Star­ring Chris Pratt, Zoe Sal­dana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Kurt Rus­sell Karen Gil­lan. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 136 min Oh, “vol­ume 2”? Get them. I sup­pose it’s less pompous than “Dawn of Jus­tice”. But those words do seem a lit­tle grandiose when at­tached to a Mar­vel sub-fran­chise that prides it­self on pro­vid­ing end­less good fun. Of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy “vol­umes” – the first of which was a sur­prise US smash in 2014 – are also ru­moured to be fright­fully, fright­fully clever. In­ter­nal ref­er­ences and smart-aleck nods abound. So we should, per­haps, have ex­pected such mild in­dul­gence.

The pro­logue of the se­cond “vol­ume” re­ally is good fun and (tech­ni­cally at least) very clever. It is 1980 and two young peo­ple are driv­ing through the United States. If you didn’t know that this ver­sion of Kurt Rus­sell had been dig­i­tally de-aged, then you re­ally could have taken him for the 29-year-old who played Elvis. That will do well enough.

Back in the film’s present, we are treated to an in­ter­ga­lac­tic punch-up that, in typ­i­cally arch fash­ion, is pushed up­stage while, in fo­cus by the foot­lights, Groot, the love­able am­bu­la­tory plant, dances to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. What did we do to de­serve this?

There is, of course, a nar­ra­tive pur­pose to the end­less au­ral cheese – chief Guardian Peter Quill’s late mom loved this stuff – but it is re­ally here to sa­ti­ate a vogu­ish ad­dic­tion to 1970s kitsch. As in the re­cent ho-hum Free Fire, mere in­cli­na­tion to that era stands in for wit and in­ven­tion. Pre­pare ears for Glen Camp­bell’s South­ern Nights and Sil­ver’s Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang. Why not just play Terry Wo­gan’s Flo­ral Dance and have done with it?

Any­way, there is also some sort of a plot and we are re­quired to make cau­tious al­lu­sion to it. We’ll do our best. Fol­low­ing var­i­ous vi­o­lent con­fla­gra­tions and an en­counter with a golden princess played by El­iz­a­beth De­bicki, the Guardians of the Galaxy en­counter the man that the ear­lier ver­sion of Kurt Rus­sell has now be­come. He is an in­ter­ga­lac­tic mega­lo­ma­niac called, yes, Ego who lives with an em­path called Man­tis (Pom Kle­men­ti­eff) on a planet that ap­pears to have been de­signed by Jeff Koons’s more vul­gar brother. The plains are dec­o­rated with lurid blobs. The fur­ni­ture is 1968’s idea of 1995. Else­where, a group of vi­o­lent ma­ni­acs led by Taser­face (Chris Sul­li­van) – the stu­pid­ity of whose name is a de­lib­er­ate joke – are mass­ing with mis­chief in mind.

In truth, the in­ter­weav­ing plots are so flimsy and ill de­fined that they turn to dust as soon as you grasp them. A lot of things hap­pen. But few of those things lead in­ex­orably to the next thing and none merges with any other to form a sat­is­fac­tory pat­tern. This is just scaf­fold­ing erected to shelve an­other few yards of Guardians of the Galaxy Stuff. There is a great deal of quip-heavy di­a­logue, too much of which de­pends on be­ing glib when con­fronted with awe­some or ter­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tions.

Chris Pratt, back as the bluff Peter Quill, does that stuff per­fectly ad­e­quately. Dave Bautista is fun­nier as enor- mous Drax, whose stuff is in­gen­u­ous frank­ness. Zoe Sal­dana has not nearly enough stuff as the (what other ad­jec­tive to use?) green Gamora. When stuck for some­thing to do, they will walk slowly to­wards the cam­era while Fleet­wood Mac’s mo­tor-rac­ing mu­sic out­stays its wel­come yet again.

There is some vis­ual imag­i­na­tion on dis­play. The psy­che­delic mis­chief is cer­tainly prefer­able to the emo-mis­ery of the re­cent DC adap­ta­tions. But the over­rid­ing sense is of a des­per­ate at­tempt to force us to have more fun than any adult needs. At its best, the aes­thetic plays like an enor­mously ex­pen­sive ver­sion of The Ba­nana Splits.

At its worst, it comes across like a vul­gar birth­day party hosted by an in­dul­gent bil­lion­aire for a hard-to-please stepchild. More bal­loons. More clowns. More plan­ets. More pur­ple food. I feel sick. I wanna go home.

On guard Zoe Sal­dana, Karen Gil­lan, Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.