The new Guardians of the Galaxy movie (the oh-so-creatively named Vol. 2) was generally enjoyable, and does a number of things right. As I always say, this isn't a movie blog, it's a story blog, so the following isn't a review. Rather, it's a critique of how the writers screwed up the character arc of arguably their best character, followed by a bonus rant* that I'm tacking on to the end because I'm too lazy to write an entire post about it.
Drax the Destroyer was one of several breakout characters in the original Guardians (another pleasant surprise: Vin Diesel is capable of multiple line readings of the same sentence). Partly because the way Dave Bautista played him is really the way a lot of people think of pro wrestlers: big, dopey, and unable to actually fight, which may or may not have been an accident. But also because Bautista's timing is incredible. He's an overly literal lunkhead (best line: Rocket: "His people are completely literal. Metaphors are gonna go over his head." Drax: "Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it."), but he's got heart.
In Vol. 2, the writers apparently realized halfway through the movie that Drax and new character Mantis had nothing to do, so decided to have them "bond." See, it's funny because Mantis is conventionally attractive to anyone who's not repulsed by Kawaii culture (there's yet another rant there, but I'll let someone else handle it), and yet Drax finds her disgusting. Which makes sense, here on Earth we don't tend to look very kindly on anyone who's sexually attracted to a different species. While this makes sense, the writers don't really delve into the implications, instead playing it for shallow laughs.
At the end of the movie, to wrap up this half-assed emotional arc, Drax tells Mantis that she is beautiful...on the inside. This comment makes no sense for someone who has no concept of metaphor, unless he's actually pouring over a cat scan and remarking on how sturdy her liver is (or whatever equivalent organ Mantis' species uses to filter out actual toxins**). It's simply not something Drax would say. It's out of character, and it took me right out of the movie.
The most infuriating thing is how easily fixed this situation is. I've got a crazy idea, when Drax and Mantis are sitting around Ego's planet with nothing to do, why not have Mantis teach him about metaphors and idioms and the like? Drax's efforts to grasp the concept would be a rich source of comedy, give them an actual reason to bond, and grow both of their characters (Drax learns metaphors, Mantis learns how to connect with a non-Celestial who's essentially kidnapped her).
But hey, why worry about character development when you have a baby talking tree and a soundtrack full of classic rock to make people who don't know what Spotify is cream their pants?
* Two bonus rants:
Bonus Rant #1: WTF is with Yondu's arrow? It looks cool AF, but seriously why isn't every single other character in this universe also using an arrow like that? Are they all just that in love with their hair that they don't want a metal mohawk implant?
Bonus Rant #2: GG1 and GG2 totally got their endings switched around. You kill a Kree with a big ass bomb, you kill a Celestial with an Infinity stone. Grrrrrrr so stupid.
** As opposed to Whole Foods toxins