The opening credits sum it all up. A walking baby tree called Groot dances to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky while his band of chums, including a mouthy racoon, do battle with a tentacled inter-galactic beastie.
It’s a blend of CGI action, snarky-scripted banter, 70s MOR rock – hence the album-style Volume 2 title – and big budget Hollywood oomph. It’s enough to get it over the line and keep fans amused, but in truth it exists in a carapace of tedium, never really pushing forward.
For all the careful character arcs, the trash talk, the snide giggles and by-the-book screenplay ticking, there’s a spark of something missing – oh yeah, I just realised what it is: I didn’t give a shit.
The world was not at stake, nothing was real. There’s a plot about Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill character’s Dad (played by Kurt Russell like’s he’s delivering every line into a mirror) – he’s called Ego and he is bigger than the universe and wants to own it all, so they have to blow him up by accessing his interplanetary core… I mean, seriously, how are we expected to follow this nonsense, let alone feel any concern as to how it turns out? The best I can say, really, is that everyone does a very professional job.
Zoe Saldana’s green Gamora copes with her vengeful psycho sister (played by Karen Gillan), the racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) does his thing and is rude to everyone and there are various green, gold and blue characters all heading to one infernally long climax. I must admit, there is one good gag where even that long-time-coming event is delayed for an: “Anyone got any tape?” exchange.
Watching is a strange, out-of-body experience, where the noise, the colours, the CGI design off a 70s album cover by way of Flash Gordon, the cute tree (jeez, can’t believe I just wrote: “the cute tree”), the insults (“trash panda; triangle-faced monkey”), the cheesy mixtape hits and 80s TV references, all congeal into one blob that held me in a gormless trance. I wanted to leave but found myself frozen, numbed into a lobotomised form of enjoyment.
I might have even smiled, like a baby does with a rattle. “Doesn’t eternity get boring?” someone asked Kurt Russell. “Not if you have a purpose,” he replies, accidentally nailing exactly what this doubtlessly huge summer blockbuster lacks.