owlmoose: (hp - monsters)
KJ ([personal profile] owlmoose) wrote2017-05-09 12:01 am
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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

We saw it. It was fun with some issues, very much on par with the first movie. If you liked the first movie, you will probably like this one. A few unexpected twists in the story, along with many predictable beats, but that's not really a bad thing in this case. I'd say it's the MCU film that feels the least connected to the main movie storyline, although it might tie in more later, depending on what happens in Thor 3 and the next Avengers movie.

The main thing that mars this otherwise lightweight film is a theme of abuse that runs throughout. The movie revolves around family, both found and birth, which is usually something I like, but many of the relationships are abusive in one way or another. It would be one thing if I thought the filmmakers had introduced the topic intentionally, in order to make a statement, but I suspect that it was mostly accidental. Ana of The Book Smugglers wrote an excellent article on the abusive way that Drax treats Mantis, and that's just one example. Rocket is cruel to his friends and teammates because he's afraid to get too close, a common defense mechanism to be sure, but you can tell that the others often suffer genuinely hurt feelings as a result. We learn that Gamora and Nebula were forced as children to compete with each other for the approval of their father figure, Thanos, and that Thanos punished Nebula every time she lost a fight. Peter Quill's biological father, Eon, literally murders his children when they fall short of his expectations; his adoptive father, Yondu, put him in dangerous situations as a child, controlling him with threats of violence. Peter's realization that Yondu was his father in the ways that mattered is both touching and well-earned, but I wish it had come with better acknowledgement that Yondu was also abusive, and that his abusive treatment of young Peter was wrong, instead of his past threats being waved off as a joke. Of all these situations, only Gamora and Nebula's relationship with each other and their father is treated with the seriousness it deserves (and accordingly it was one of my favorite parts of the movie).

I have other concerns about the movie (Mantis as the subservient empath was maybe not the best choice for one of the very few Asian actresses in the MCU; Gamora as the joyless scold, a role too often reserved for the only woman on a team; Drax's literal mind and lack of tact being played for laughs, when it was often hurtful toward Mantis and others -- I had that issue with the first movie, too, and as a result Drax is one of my least favorite MCU characters), but I don't want my comments to come off as relentlessly negative. As I said above, I had fun at this movie, and I look forward to seeing more not just in this franchise, but to see it drawing stronger connections to the rest of the series. Most of the cast is fun and charming, and I was particularly glad to see Karen Gillan get much more to do than in the first film. I laughed a lot (even as I was sometimes cringing), and the vibe in the theater was good, and it definitely brought the feels. So I do recommend it (unless abusive parenting is a significant trigger for you; then maybe proceed with caution).