MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana Rated PG-13
I am not in the habit of reviewing films in the Marvel Comic Universe. Generally speaking, these movies are entertaining and fun but often simply just a way to mix and match superhero characters and villains, setting up enough of a plot (with assorted cliffhangers) to warrant the next entries in the series. In other words, there’s often not much message in the movie.
However, with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, we have a sequel that not only surpasses the excellence of the first film, but develops characters in a way that allows each of them to grow in relationship with one another, revealing strengths and flaws along the way.
As in the first movie, the action revolves around a particular object that the guardians possess and that someone else wants. Since the guardians obtain these devices through deceit and thievery, they clearly are not on the moral high ground but slightly better than their adversaries. Action, comedy, and wisecracks propel the story along.
The self-proclaimed leader is Peter Quill (Pratt) (who also likes to go by the name of Star Lord), a human who was beamed into a spaceship on the evening of his mother’s death. The other guardians are Gamora (Saldana), the green-skinned daughter of Thanos, Drax (David Bautista), a muscular heavyweight, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a raccoon with an attitude (don’t call him a raccoon or any other woodland animal); and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) the animated sapling that was grown from his father, Groot, a sentient tree, who perished in the first film.
Every guardian is dealing with issues about family and relationship. Peter has never known his father, but his birth in many ways parallels that of Jesus Christ. His mother (Laura Haddock) raised him from infancy and he was conceived from her union with a Celestial being. Peter meets his father (Kurt Russell) for the first time in this film, and their reunion is filled with joy and pain. Peter discovers new powers within that transcend everything that came before. He also must contend with a father who uses omnipotence irresponsibly. Is this a birthright that Peter should claim?
Yondu (Michael Rooker) is a blue-skinned Ravager who raised Peter as a child but is now called into duty to kill the guardians. His conflict of interest is deftly handled as he develops a close bonding with Rocket. Drax cultivates a growing friendship with Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an insecure but powerful ally to their team. Gamora must contend with her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan); although they are at odds with one another, they both come out of an abusive family background.
The film is optimistic and hopeful about relationships and the value of close friendships. Christians often underestimate how much our faith is founded on the ties that bind. Some fortunate persons are born into loving families; everyone deserves love and friendship. Jesus invites us to love God and to love others, including enemies, because you never can tell what wonderful possibilities can be created. If this ragtag bunch of misfits can discover family, there’s hope for us all.
Four halos: An entertaining Marvel movie that is also a surprising celebration of family.
Three pitchforks: Fairly frequent swearing; some mild sexual innuendos; many sci-fi deaths of humans and creatures of all shapes and sizes; thefts and deceptions; a lesser god with many character flaws.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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