Sunday!

We (finally) went to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

But before I talk about that, I’ma have to talk about this. Two years ago, we went to the theater to see the movie “Inside Out“. And Inside Out made me think of the movie Up. (Warning: there will be spoilers for Up, Inside Out, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in here.)

Now, remember two years ago? Inside Out was visually stunning, expertly voice acted, tightly plotted, and you can fill a list with all kinds of “90% complimentary” phrases that end up darning the movie with faint praise. It’s not like the movie wasn’t visually stunning, expertly voice acted, yadda yadda yadda, it’s that it felt so sterile and calculated as it did all of these praiseworthy things. (The scene where we said goodbye to Riley’s imaginary friend “Bing Bong”? I think that that was where the movie overplayed its hand.)

(Compare to Up. Remember the opening (wordless!) scene that showed us the evolution from the wedding day to the day of the funeral? Four minutes of pure perfection. It almost seems unfair to compare anything to those four minutes. But I digress.)

Anyway, with that in mind, I’m not really comparing Up to Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I am definitely and 100% comparing Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to Inside Out. As the film opens, we hear the song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass and we are immediately as happy as the song. That’s a great song. We see a CGI’ed Kurt Russell who looks like he looked back in the 70’s and we get a little more to the story of Starlord’s origin.

We then are taken to the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves as they prepare themselves to defend some macguffin from an interdimensional something or other and, right when the fight starts, the camera doesn’t focus on the fight, the camera instead focuses on Groot who is running around on the periphery of the fight to the sounds of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. Another really great song. We can see the other characters on occasion, as they fight, but the focus is on Groot. It’s nice when, one at a time, each of the characters come into the scene and interact with Groot for a second or two (the scene where Groot starts to eat a bug and Rocket stops fighting the interdimensional something or other for long enough to make Groot spit it out before getting back in the fight got a big laugh) but we’re mostly looking at something completely other than the fight itself.

And it is in that opening fight that the movie gives its game away. It’s not about the action at all (though there is a ton of action in the movie). They want you to focus on the characters and the relationships between the characters. And it’s so very easy to do that!

I mean, the characters are being played by exceptionally beautiful and charismatic people and the music is really great and the action is really secondary to the relationships that everybody has with each other… and there are themes explored about what sisterhood means and what fatherhood is and they play Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” at the right moment and Cat Steven’s “Father and Son” at the right moment and I walked out of the theater thinking “that movie tried to manipulate the ever loving heck out of me.”

And, to some extent, it succeeded. I’m listening to the soundtrack right now, after all. As I listen to them, I can’t help but think that, jeez, these are great songs.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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12 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. GoG2 couldn’t ever be as good as GOG simply because GoG was so surprisingly good when you went in kind of unsure what exactly Marvel’s angle was on it. In similar fashion Ant Man was shockingly good not only because it was cleverly and light heartedly written and pretty well done but also because you’d heard there was blood on the production floor and you went in wondering “is this going to be the MCU’s strike one?”
    That said I thought GoG2 was pretty good but the fireworks ending was waaaaaay too blatantly Disney- like holy Agnostic Jesus I expected to see Mickey floating by with a space suit on.
    Also Chris Pratt is painfully hot, like disgustingly painfully hot. God(ess?) damn!

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  2. Yeah, there was definitely that “yada, yada, yada” quality to the action itself. But the characters aren’t deep enough to make a character-focused movie really work. I enjoyed the funny spots but overall was slightly bored, and definitely rolled my eyes at some of it.

    But to be fair, and echoing North, the sequel was never going to be able to match the experience of the first one.

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    • I think GoG2 fell apart for me when…



      …I started wondering why, exactly, Nova was in the movie. And I realized that she was in the movie so that Gamorra would have something to do. Because other than fight with Nova, Gamorra basically does nothing.

      (I was wondering whether she’d join the team at the end; I muttered to my wife “I guess they need another blue person”. I got smacked and told to be quiet.)

      People in our theater laughed like heck at the “energy ball catch” scene, and I did too, but it felt a little odd, like maybe we weren’t supposed to be laughing at it. But we couldn’t help it; they were too goofy, too obviously not actually throwing anything.

      The whole thing with Yondu in the beginning felt like there was a whole movie that we’d missed.

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        • Hmmn… we clearly take away different things from the movie. I don’t deny that the movie is *about* relationships… but that’s not what makes the movie good; it’s just the oil to keep the gears from seizing up.

          The gears of Self-referential Chaotic Good Space Pirates with Uncool 70’s songs mislabeled as 80’s songs. We, or at least, I had no sense of attachment, emotional or otherwise to the Blue people or lusty Kurt Russel. If there was any growth among the characters, I hope they lose it in time for GoTG3.

          Baby Groot, on the other hand…

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  3. Reading: I just finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This might be the most beautifully written post-apocalypse novel I’ve ever read. Definitely worth checking out.

    Watching: Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s sitcom on Netflix. It’s incredibly funny, and I can’t believe I didn’t catch this when it first came out.

    Regarding GotG 2: meh, but it’s a sequel, so meh is to be expected. GotG 3 was heavily pitched at the end, so let’s see if the franchise recovers, a la Return of the Jedi. And, fer chrissakes Star Wars nerds, that one came out third, hence it cannot be episode 6.

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