Going off the rails
'T2,' 'Guardians' fail to live up to originals

Going off the rails

Sickboy and the gang return for a disappointing T2.

Willie Krischke - 05/25/2017

I’m feeling really torn. On one hand, I’d like to recommend you watch “Trainspotting” before going to see “T2

– Trainspotting” because it was loaded with callbacks to the first movie. I didn’t watch it first, and I just couldn’t remember enough for the emotional moments to connect the way they were clearly supposed to.

On the other hand, the first “Trainspotting” is a better movie. Much, much better. And so maybe it’s not a good idea to watch the old one first – it’s just going to highlight all the deficiencies of this sequel.

Everything about this sequel feels half-baked, beginning with the awkward title, which conjures up images of a heroin-addicted liquid metal killing machine from the future. If only the movie were about that. Instead it consists of three stories that tie together in the climax. There’s the reunion of Sickboy/Simon (Jonny Lee Miller)

and Renton (Ewan McGregor). Renton comes back from Amsterdam, freshly divorced, without much to live for, and Simon convinces him to embark on a business venture, turning an old pub into a brothel. Simon says he’s stringing Renton along until he can get revenge, but frankly I could never figure out if he meant that, was just posturing, or changes his mind at some point. The writing is pretty muddled.

It was interesting to see Miller return as Simon/Sickboy. He was easily the least memorable character in the first movie. He has become a much better actor since then and is close to compelling here, even with so little to work with. McGregor is the bigger star, thanks to “Star Wars,” but Miller may be the better actor.

The second storyline is about Spud (Bremner) trying to get free of heroin and discovering he’s a good writer. This is, paradoxically, engaging and predictable; a lot of its appeal hangs on a winning performance from Bremner. He’s so ugly and charmless, he’s kind of adorable. Spud is the emotional center of the movie, the only one you can really root for, and really, the only one who is more interesting at 40 than he was at 25. And then there’s Begby, the thug, who escapes from prison, tries to enlist his son in the family business of burglary and theft, and hunts down Renton to get his revenge.

“T2: Trainspotting” is the definition of the tepid, ill-advised sequel, the kind of thing that will be forgotten by fans as quickly as possible. Danny Boyle is a good, if somewhat limited, director, and he’s made plenty of interesting and entertaining films. This is certainly his worst.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” isn’t quite as good as the original, but it’s no tepid, ill-advised sequel, either. The distinctive quality that sets “Guardians” apart from the rest of the Marvel universe is its snarky sense of humor. Baby Groot is reliably funny, though it’s even funnier to think about Vin Diesel voicing this character. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, shines in particular. Since Bautista started in pro wrestling, it’s easy to call him the next Dwayne Johnson, but the Rock doesn’t have Bautista’s comic timing. This guy is funny.

The plot, though, is convoluted. Peter (Chris Pratt) is rescued by his father, Ego (Kurt Russell,) who turns out to be a god-like being with infinite power and his own planet. Like in one too many “Star Trek” episodes, as Ego shows his son around, proclaiming “all of this is yours,” you wait for the other shoe to fall. It’s an odd role for Russell, whose rugged looks usually get him cast as outlaws and drifters – you’d think they’d cast someone with a more regal look.

All the other storylines are also about reconnecting with family: Gamorah (Zoe Saldana) and her sister reluctantly settle their differences, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) comes to recognize that Yondo (Michael Rooker) isn’t that different from himself. I wish that storyline would have gotten more screen time; I would much rather have listened to those two trade insults than Russell go on and on about how perfect he is.

The whole thing feels overstuffed, primarily because Ego needs a lot of explaining, and the film doesn’t handle it very gracefully. Volume 2 drags and fails to pack the emotional velvet punch of the first film. I am decidedly ambivalent about the film’s resolution, which ventures into territory no other Marvel movie has touched by killing off a main character. I really want to care, director James Gunn really wants me to care, but I just ... don’t. I’m mostly waiting for the next snarky joke or visual pun.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s bad (it’s a hell of a lot better than “T2.”) It was entertaining and fun. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of my top five Marvel movies, so I came into this with high expectations. the sequel is not even in my top 10. It is funny, though, and I still think that’s the main thing we want from Guardians.

Top Shelf

Extreme couponing, Funksgiving & the Revelers
Extreme couponing, Funksgiving & the Revelers
By Chris Aaland
11/15/2018

I rushed from work in Ignacio last Friday afternoon and made a mad dash to the Ska Brewing World Headquarters to utilize a handful of Be Local coupons, which were set to expire the next day.

Dead Floyd, MarchFourth Blockhead and SOL
Dead Floyd, MarchFourth Blockhead and SOL
By Chris Aaland
11/08/2018

When you work in radio, what’s old is new again. While some listeners want to be challenged to hear new sounds and discover up-and-coming artists, most like to hear a song they can sing along to.

Capitol Steps, Puentes and the Blues Box
Capitol Steps, Puentes and the Blues Box
11/01/2018

I’ve been a member of the Fourth Estate since 1987, when, as a college sophomore, I was assistant editor of the FLC Independent.

Stooki, Storm, DRAGula & Frank 'n' Stein
Stooki, Storm, DRAGula & Frank 'n' Stein
By Chris Aaland
10/25/2018

Longtime world music favorites Eufo?rquestra return to the Animas City Theatre at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Their ever-evolving sound is influenced by music from all over the world, with an emphasis on funk, pocket and groove.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

Deep freeze
Deep freeze
By Stephen Eginoire
11/15/2018

As the sun crosses our sky at a softened angle, dipping ever so gently toward the Tropic of Capricorn, autumn will soon be a fleeting memory.

Lost souls
Lost souls
By Stephen Eginoire
11/08/2018

Along a dusty side street in the Old Barrio near downtown Tucson, colorful, quaint buildings frame the crumbling remains of a 150-year-old adobe wall known as El Tiradito.

Boo!
Boo!
By by Stephen Eginoire
11/01/2018

“Hello? Who’s there?? What’s that noise?” Is that the spirit world gently rap-rap-rapping on your window?

High Rollers
High Rollers
By Stephen Eginoire
10/25/2018

More than 800 high school mountain bike racers from around the state, as well as a few from Wyoming and New Mexico, gathered atop Durango Mesa (formerly Ewing Mesa) last weekend for the Colorado High School Cycling League’s championships.

Read All in Day on the Life