The long awaited sequel to 1999’s Galaxy Quest is finally here…not really, but director Dean Parisot’s over-the-top-humorous take-off on Star Trek is reincarnated inside director James Gunn’s 2017 extension of where he started off in 2014 with Guardians of the Galaxy 1. Yours truly walked into the theater during the opening credits to this new 3D blockbuster, some beast fighting the anti-heroes with the first thing crossing my mind being color, color, color. If you are looking for a virtual reality ride inside Peter Fonda’s 1967 LSD experience known as The Trip, this is probably it. If you’re too young to remember The Trip, IMDB describes Fonda’s TV commercial director as experiencing “visions of sex, death, strobe lights, flowers, dancing girls, witches, hooded riders, a torture chamber, and a dwarf.” You’ll get all this and more in Guardians of the Galaxy Quest II, with the dwarf times two of baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel who doesn’t sound like Diesel this time around,) and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket (raccoon) …who is still cute, even when it’s not Bradley in flesh and blood, a sure sign of good acting. It is psychedelic celestial lunacy of the highest degree, a very exciting roller coaster ride with some additional outside humor by throwing Howard the Duck into the mix and, as tempting as it gets for comic book fans, two appearances of the almighty Watchers – mysterious and beloved characters from the Fantastic Four, which are not put into the mix without good reason. You see, 20th Century Fox has the rights to the FF, and – purportedly – all the characters within that FF universe or whatever one wants to call it, the Watchers being prime candidates for that. And with 20th Century saying its working on a 4th Fantastic Four film after three …ahem…strange attempts, well, one wonders what kind of deal was struck when Spiderman (Sony) popped up in an Avenger’s flick. Will Disney/Marvel do another swap, or will they just buy the franchise back? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 proves that Marvel/Disney is able to take a lost comic book title and make it a household name. Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Howard the Duck, you know what’s coming next, and the totally out of control chaos gets so convoluted – in a fun way – that people outside of the comic book fandom – and some inside it – will find many moments in this film hard to follow. This fast and furious water slide has no thought of etiquette (even Kurt Russell gets off color and blue, after Brad Cooper initiates the bride blush,) fractures the law of physics and casts its fate to the wind with nothing intelligently resembling some kind of peaceful order. It is the insanity, the lack of logic, that allows the “anything goes” attitude to totally suspend belief and give the audience a chance to get with the program.
Though this was a critic’s screening on Tuesday, May 2, there were winners of radio station WROR 105.7 ticket giveaways and you could feel with their laughter, and applause, that director Gunn nails it for the audience he wants…which is going to be huge and global.
The soundtrack keys this film and its predecessor just as the oldies collections in the Big Chill and Dirty Dancing made the music the advertisement for what would come on the big screen, sometimes overshadowing it. Not here, the music, as deranged as the selections are, become part of the dance, and get new imprints on memories for new generations. Eliot Laurie’s brilliant “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by his the Looking Glass is sensational, but Kurt Russell’s bizarre description of the song, and calling it the greatest song ever written, or something along those lines, is…well…as stated…bizarre. It’s nice that Laurie’s “Brandy,” along with Jay and the Americans’ writers Bobby Hart, Tommy Boyce’s estate and Wes Farrell (if he’s still alive) will be getting huge paychecks for the appearance of their music in this film, but watching the 1964 hit “Come A Little Bit Closer” act in a slaughter scene is the humor that director Tim Burton failed to get in 2012’s lackluster Dark Shadows. The music and the film merge here as good as Jerry Goldsmith’s phenomenal sounds in the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, though Goldsmith’s genius was to have it subliminal, the undercurrent to the action, 49 years later Marvel/Disney/Director Gunn make the classic rock and oldies essential characters more than components, while all hell, literally, breaks loose.
Kurt Russell takes the image of the Matrix villain Deus Ex Machina …as well as the similar villain in Dr. Strange (side note, the Matrix is coming back…http://www.nme.com/news/film/new-matrix-film-not-remake-reboot-2020232 )
Russell’s character, Ego, the living planet that first emerged in Thor #132 in 1966, is at least owned by Marvel/Disney. If there’s no organization in the thrill ride that is Galaxy Quest of the Guardians, 2, at least there is in the reality of the business world.
There will be a debate as to which Guardians is better, 1 or 2, but that’s as arbitrary as it is academic. The film is just an extension which will carry over to Guardians III, which will (spoiler alert, as if it matters) have the same evil gold-skinned space queen as in this film. It’s not a series, it’s not a set of sequels, it’s truly becoming its own continuum.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.