“Guardians of the Galaxy 2” had all the essential elements to keep me entertained but it’s very much a different movie than the original. It’s not that it’s not funny. It is. It has great action sequences done very prettily. It is a very pretty movie; the visuals are great. The characters are irreverent and quick witted as you would expect but what makes this movie different is that it dives deeper into each one of the main characters. Except for Groot but to be fair, he’s essentially a toddler in the film. Watch “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” trailers 1 – 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7GiAwK2-fY In Vol. 1, we watched a group of strangers whose story motivations crossed paths and who were forced to become unwilling allies due to events out of their control. They became an assortment of frenemies, torn between competing and cooperating. In the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy were “forming” in a very enjoyable half-assed sort of way. If you’ve been through any sort of business training, you’ve probably heard about the “Forming, Storming, and Norming” process teams go through as they sort out how they will relate and interact. The full team evolutionary process is usually called “Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.” Here’s a link if you want to read more about Tuckman’s stages of group development Basically, in Vol. 1, we have a team just “forming.” They are individuals working towards their own goals that happen to align to what the team needs to accomplish. By the end of the movie, they’ve had enough success to decide to keep the team together. In “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”, we clearly enter the “Storming” phase. Still individuals, the Guardians are trying to sort out who they are in relation to the others and what that ultimately means to them in terms of their individual needs and the goals of the team. The opening sequence is a great portrayal of a still forming team making the transition to the “storming” phase. They are fighting a hyper-dimensional beast. They have a common cause; kill the beast and collect the bounty but they still fight as individuals. Quill tries to provide leadership. Draxx will do things his own way. Rocket sort of works in concert with Quill but is always his own man…er…racoon…er…whatever he is. Gamora also asserts authority by shouting commands perhaps unintentionally under-cutting Quill’s assumed command. Baby Groot just dances throughout it all, not even engaged in the battle. When teams storm, there is tension and conflict including jockeying for position within the group and defining individual roles. The Guardians start to learn more about each other but are still guarded (hee hee . . . the Guardians are guarded…oh never mind.). Quill and Gamora struggle to figure out if there is anything between them. One desires; the other denies. Rocket so used to being independent and not very trusting, fights to establish his position especially when it comes to his piloting skills over that of Starlord’s. Of course, he chooses the worst possible time with a Sovereign fleet on their tail but he does what he wants when he wants, everyone else be damned. Draxx seems to have the easiest time, next to Baby Groot, in claiming his space. He’s a “tank” as we say in gaming circles and is very comfortable in that role. Baby Groot is, in my view, a unifier while the team storms. They all take care of him in one way or another and he seems to assume they will. The team in Guardians 2 is a metaphor (“It’s metaphorical!”) for family. There is jealousy (especially between sisters), competition, hurt feelings, passive aggressive behavior, care, concern, and fear of losing that emotional connection once made. Answering the question, “What is family?” seems to be the big theme in Guardians 2. I am on the verge of revealing Spoilers here but I will restrain myself. When it comes to family, the movie seems to say, it’s not so much a matter of DNA but of the heart. It’s a hard lesson that the Guardians learn, and each does so differently and for some, with great loss. This theme cuts across all our heroes: Quill, Gamora, Yondu, Rocket, Nebula, Draxx and Mantis. Groot is Groot, ‘nuff said. The theme even is present in Kraglin’s sub-plot. If you don’t remember, he’s Yondu’s first mate. I loved his line in Vol. 1 when Yondu has Quill at his mercy and says he’s got to teach his men what happens when you cross him, “Captain’s got to teach stuff!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo9MxO5llgk I don’t believe in crying at the movies….but there were points during Guardians 2 that a tear or two did escape. There were heartwarming moments, at least for me, and one very sad event. There is that old saying, “You can’t choose your relatives but you can choose your friends.” In my experience, your friends become family with all the good and bad that comes with that. By the end of the movie, we have a team entering the “Norming” phase though I suspect there will still be some storming throughout it all with the required smartassery and questionable behaviors the Guardians are renowned for throughout the Galaxy. In the arc of character and team development, I wouldn’t be surprised that in “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3”, the Guardians will “Norm and Perform” and perform they will have to do in the Infinity Wars (assuming they are included in those movies) and in whatever the future holds in the aftermath. Unfortunately, we will more than likely wait until 2020 for the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie, after The Avengers 3 and 4. I, for one, can’t wait.]]>