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?