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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 & Spider-Man: Homecoming

Dearest readers, I apologise for the lack of reviews that have come your way recently. Be relieved, however, for I have seen more than just Pirates of the Caribbean in that time. Indeed, I have viewed Marvel Studios’ two major blockbusters and, having seen Spider-Man yesterday, I thought I would give my thoughts on Guardians 2 as well in an exciting double review!

I never like to judge other people over their taste in films; however, when someone told me Guardians 2 was their favourite film I could not help but despair. I knew it was not going to be as good as the first when they tried to repeat the brilliance of its opening sequence, ’80s soundtrack in the background et al., to absolutely no effect. This segment lacked the charm and humour of the original, as did most of the film.

Some golden woman who appears minimally in the film, partakes in poor innuendo-filled dialogue, then leaves until the credits

Not living up to the first film may have been OK, however, as the first is very good, but what made me realise the film would be bad was the very on-the-nose sex jokes made by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) that lacked the subtlety to make them funny to anyone at all. This lack of nuance continued, with Drax the Destroyer even shouting “I have famously huge turds” as a punchline.

The first half of this film can only be described as dire, with poor jokes and bad acting reigning throughout. The second half does improve, with an interesting revelation being made and more of the character Yondu (Michael Rooker). Yondu features in the first film, but is given a greater part to play here. He carries the film whenever he is on screen, adding the humour and drama that the rest of the cast should have contributed as well.

Yondu and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) in the middle of the best part of the film (it didn’t have to do much to qualify)

There were individual moments I liked, such as when Quill plays catch with his new-found father with an energy ball. It was rather tender; however, I imagine that I cared more for it due to the mystery of his father’s identity being sprinkled throughout the first film, rather than anything in this film making me care. The visual effects were cool as well, so not all bad here.

Having to think about Guardians 2 again has made me realise how similar it was in structure to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Both have a twist to begin the third act, Spider-Man’s more surprising than Guardians’. This one surprise in Homecoming I enjoyed, actually feeling quite empathetic with Peter Parker (Tom Holland), because the rest of the film was somewhere on a scale between “conventional” and “bad”.

Spider-Man: Homecoming answers the question “can you mix a high-school film with a superhero film and make something worth anyone’s time?”. The answer to this and “is it a good idea to mix custard with ketchup?” are the same.

The high-school scenes are filled with caricatures: the awkward teen, the nerdy best friend, the crush, the jaded girl, the bully etc. Even Robert Downey Jr, who is endlessly charismatic, manages to become a caricature, demonstrating the film’s poor writing.

The significant feature of film is that it was produced by Marvel Studios, instead of the previous five Spider-Man films which were produced by Sony. I’ve only seen Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man, and both were better than this. This film focuses too much on the high-school aspects of the character, therefore it is mediocre in both departments.

While Spider-Man: Homecoming involves caricatures, Guardians 2 is in itself a caricature. It is an imitation of the first firm, including very similar scenes such as those of violence with joyful ’80s music in the background, “humorous” banter with villains (to be fair the section in the ship of the raiders is very funny), and all simply done worse than in the first film. The villain is more interesting this time around, but the first adversary of the Guardians was beyond poor in his writing and motives.

What about Micheal Keaton as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Having seen the performance I wonder what attracted Keaton to the role and the only word that comes to mind is “money”. There are attempts to make him somewhat sympathetic, being a trader in alien weaponry in order to fund his family. We see him give a fairly Marxist soliloquy to Spider-Man at one point; however, we only see him get put to one side by government officials once he’s trying to salvage alien weaponry. If we saw him pushed about in the same way in a more legal business then perhaps this attempt to make him sympathetic would work. He tells us he does it only because he loves his wife, but we never see this love manifest.

Kurt Russell has a more interesting character to play within Ego the living planet; however, his performance is nothing to write home about

As in Guardians 2, there are moments I liked in Spider-Man. Mostly the bits where he is going out of his way to save people, such as the opening montage, a scene in the Washington monument and a scene on a cruise ship. Weirdly such a moment as this is rarely seen in superhero films, so I respected it here.

Any fan of Spider-Man will tell you that the source material can be funny, yet rarely did that translate to the screen. Not due to being present in moments of tension and emotion, as per usual in these films, but just from the writing and acting not being up to par.

Are either of these films worth your time? Would ketchup mixed with custard taste nice? Is it cold in the Sahara desert? The answer to all three of these questions is a resounding no.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – ★★☆☆☆

Spider-Man: Homecoming – ★☆☆☆☆