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Siraj Syed


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Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics.
Festival Correspondent, Film-critic, Feature-writer.


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The Guardians of the Galaxy-Vol. 2, Review by Siraj Syed: Turn-up the volume

The Guardians of the Galaxy-Vol. 2, Review by Siraj Syed: Turn-up the volume

TGOTG goes back to 1980, when Peter’s father was courting his mother, and then comes to present day, when he s about 35. Like Vol. 1, the film is a riot of colour, sci-fi (visuals) and hi-fi (sounds), even celebrating its own prowess in painting the screen with an explosion of VFX hues, like a futurist child’s dream display of fire-works. It also taps upon latest sound techniques to run music, SFX and dialogue at almost full blast, simultaneously. Add to that high volume humour, and you have a sequel that is almost as good as its predecessor.

To get the background, here is a gist of what Vol. 1 (August 2014) was about.

In 1988, following his mother's death, a young Peter Quill is abducted in a space-ship from his native Missouri (director Gunn is Missouri born!) by the Ravagers, a group of alien space pirates, led by Yondu. Twenty-six years later, on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb, only to be intercepted by Korath, a subordinate to the fanatical Kree, Ronan. Although Quill escapes with the orb, Yondu discovers his theft, and issues a bounty for his capture, while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora after the orb.

When Quill, now known as Starlord (Star wars, anyone?) attempts to sell the orb, Gamora ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically engineered raccoon Rocket (first seen in the comics of the 80s), and the tree-like humanoid Groot (character created in 1963). The Nova Corps arrives and arrests the group, imprisoning them in the Kyln.

A powerful inmate, Drax the Destroyer, attempts to kill Gamora, when he learns of her association with Ronan, who had killed his family. Quill dissuades him by convincing him that Gamora can bring Ronan to him. Gamora reveals that she has betrayed Ronan, unwilling to let him use the orb's unimaginable power to destroy entire planets such as. Learning that Gamora has a buyer for the orb, Rocket, Quill, Groot, and Gamora work together to escape the Kyln, and the conflict moves to a much bigger scale, with the galaxy's fate in the balance.

In 2017, the five member gang (Drax is now part of it) has been retained by Ayesha, Queen of the Sovereign race, to protect their planet from a destructive octopus like creature, which is on his way, to steal ultra powerful batteries. In exchange they will get back Gamora's estranged sister, Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries. The Guardians destroy the monster, while Rocket steals some for himself. When the theft is discovered, the Sovereigns attack the Guardians' ship with a fleet of drones. The drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, but the Guardians are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill's father, Ego, who invites Quill, accompanied by Gamora and Drax, to his home, while Rocket and Groot remain behind, to repair the ship and guard Nebula.

Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians. They capture Rocket, but when Yondu shows reluctance to turn over Quill, his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny with help from Nebula. Taserface imprisons Rocket and Yondu aboard Yondu's ship and executes his loyalists while Nebula leaves to track down and kill Gamora, whom she blames for all the torture inflicted on her by their father, Thanos. While imprisoned, Rocket and Yondu bond. Groot, together with Yondu loyalist Kraglin, frees Rocket and Yondu and they destroy the ship and its crew as they escape, though not before Taserface tips off the Sovereign fleet.

Directed by James Gunn (Slither, Super, TGOTG Vol. 1), the film is based upon Marvel Comics series, Guardians of the Galaxy, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Screenplay is by Gunn again. Gunn has let loose hundreds of guns, countless bombs, all variety of weapons and a horde of drones, like bowling pins in the celestial alley. Blood-letting and risqué jokes are reined in, while the accent is on the costumes, make-up and CGI. All are noticeably good, even strikingly so. Blended humour provides welcome relief, time and again. For the most part, the story-line is simple and thin. It is only when it gets into Ego’s machinations and his rendezvous with his half celestial sun that the film begins to drag.

Music by Tyler Bates, cinematography by Henry Braham and editing by Fred Raskin and Craig Wood contribute to the Marvel-lous universe. There is too much conversation while other sound tracks are on, and some viewers might find it difficult to assimilate all the mixed tracks. Characters are made lovable and endearing, with the negative traits being mere defence mechanisms, except for the BIG villain. Baby Groot and Rocket were cheered by the audience at the May 02 preview in Mumbai. The David Haaselhoff track and the Walkman angle are funny, but get repetitive after a while.

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord is chubby and at ease

Zoe Saldana as Gamora is no stunner, but an attractive conscience keeper

Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer is all muscle and mouths quite a few satirical lines

Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot has little to say, and says it well

Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket wins us over

Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta has a meaty role, with a gamut of emotions

Karen Gillan as Nebula has probably the most imaginative get-up and the most intense look

Pom Klementieff as Mantis looks Mongoloid is robotic and half human, in turns, as is the demand. Her mantis like antennae are likely to elicit a remark like “How cute!” from women watchers

Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha has a golden presence with deadpan delivery

Chris Sullivan as Taserface emerges as a character you love to hate and hate to love

Sean Gunn as Kraglin Yondu's is the most human of the lot

Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk in a brief appearance, looks and talks a human

Kurt Russell as Ego bags another meaty roll and has a ball, mouthing long pieces of dialogue

Laura Haddock returns from as Meredith Quill, for just two scenes

David Hasselhoff (singer, Baywatch star and actor, holding a record as TV’s most watched personality) makes a fleeting cameo appearance as himself, in addition to contributing to the film's soundtrack,

Stan Lee (surprise, surprise!) appears in an end credits cameo.

And do wait till the end credits titles have finished their funny crawling: there are four mid and end credit scenes.

The Guardians of the Galaxy, at 136 minutes, is a bit longer than optimum, and there is a strong brief for overkill in the narrative. Still, it is fun and games in outer space. How’s that for a location?

Rating: *** ½

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hdv_6gl4gk

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

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