By Drs. Craig and Silvia Reid
When Guardian of the Galaxy (2014) was introduced into Marvel’s cinematic universe, it was voted least likely to succeed, thus advertising bucks and backing compared to all the other jewels in the Marvel treasure trove of franchise successes, was low. Yet after a $94 million opening weekend and a worldwide gross of $773 million, the seemingly non sequitur humor and wildly wacky entertainment had captured the audience’s fancy.
The movie defied superhero film conventions by carving out it’s own identity of abrasive absurdity and jocular distortions. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is more hilarious, colorful and frenzied than it’s predecessor. Similar to Star Wars, Vol. 2 also borrows from Eastern martial arts esotericism as part of its power supply that in Vol. 2 became a Kevin Kostner Field of Dreams (1989) moment on a heavier cosmos plane.
The film opens with each Guardian being introduced while battling a giant, mutant, interstellar octopus with more mouths and teeth than four Jaws flicks. The dancing thief Star-lord…Who?…Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the green skinned alien and reformed assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the tattooed muscleman who doesn’t understand sarcasm Drax (Dave Bautista) and the Brooklynite-accented scavenger raccoon Rocket are armed to the teeth.
Directed by James Gunn, the story follows the Guardians as they fight to keep their newfound family together while traversing the outer reaches of the cosmos to unravel the mysteries of Quill’s true parentage. It’s obvious who Quill’s father is seconds into the film’s opening where we see an amazing CGI shot of a young man driving a Ford Cobra with Quill’s mum. It’s similar to when a younger Peter Cushing as Moff Tarkin reprises his Star Wars (1977) roll in Rogue One (2016), even though he died in 1994.
The sleek, unmeek, golden Queen of the genetically-perfect Sovereign race, Ayesha, hired our heroes to stop octo-mutant from hijacking their high energy special batteries. Yet because Rocket doesn’t like Ayesha’s attitude, he steals some batteries and the chase through the galaxy is on. All seems lost until they’re saved by a demi-God named Ego (Kurt Russell), which we recognize as an older version of the dude driving Quill’s mum in the movie’s opening car shot.
The first film tells how the Guardians meet, become a team and how Quill uses his dad’s influence to save the galaxy. Vol. 2 shows how they become a closer knit family and how the team saves the galaxy a second time due to Quill’s mum’s influence.
Gunn speaks about a new character, “Mantis is a celestial Madonna. I wanted to add a female character who’s as goofy, silly, strange and odd as Drax, Rocket and Groot.”
The strange, insect-like Mantis, honestly played by Pom Klementief (Korean mum, French-Russian dad), will capture the imagination of folks into alternative and energy healing. She’s been raised alone on Ego’s planet. Her empathic abilities ingratiates her with the Guardians, who aren’t the best examples of refinement and socialization.
Klementieff shares, “She makes me think of a kid who’s had a hard, lonely upbringing. Yet meeting people opens up new worlds to her. As Drax and Mantis talk, she touches him, and sees what he went through in life and people he’s lost. She’s moved. Her perception of the world changes when she understands how someone can love someone else.”
I guess one might say that she can feel if the force is strong with someone and the whole idea of the force takes on a similar foundation but on a different power level in Vol. 2.
In Star Wars, during Jedi combat, George Lucas’ force was inspired by how chi (life force) is used by Chinese and Japanese swordsmen during combat: fa jing chi strikes to send opponents flying back without touching them; xi wu da fa suction abilities to pull opponents or objects toward them; and using ching gong leaping skills so warriors can run atop of trees.
When Ego tells Quill to cup his hands without them touching each other and feel the energy pulsing between his hands and fingers, then by slowly moving his hands farther apart and feel the energy expand between them…a little blue energy ball appears between his hands.
Awed, Quill is next told to move one hand above the other, which rotates the ball, then when he pulls the hands apart, the ball becomes softball-sized. Moments later, Quill and Ego are playing catch with the softball. It’s a typical father and son moment of years past.
Within a few minutes Quill has learned how to create, rotate, grow, and project and receive energy balls. It’s known in marital arts as the tai chi (taiji) ball-of-energy exercise.
Vol. 2 is what a film is supposed to be…a chi blast and full of unadulterated fun.