It’s that time of the year when feel-good Christmas movies start raining down upon us. And Marvel’s too joined the party. I had hoped something in this risky combination would stand out and sizzle, but disappointment is galore. A 41-minute film, The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special is nothing but a series of missteps by the writers.
Despite being half the length of a feature film (which means it had little room for error), Marvel manages to execute character assassinations of otherwise brilliant character arcs.
It’s a Christmas film, so expecting an enthralling plot is never wise. But even with those limited tropes, the audience finds comfort in the festive spirit. As long as there is a happy ending, and a saturating Christmassy vibe — all is well. But with this special, it’s hard to understand what the writers were trying to achieve. The holiday spirit storyline stays, but the writing sacrifices all elements that we remember and love the Guardians for.
Out of character
Peter Quill or Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) misses Christmas on Earth, while he is in outer space. In a quest to cheer him up, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) kidnap Peter’s favourite ’80s movie star, Kevin Bacon. While Drax and Mantis indulge in these shenanigans, their chemistry comes off as artificial as ever. The two fly to Earth to search for Kevin Bacon, party in bars and break into the Hollywood actor’s house. Their whole journey seems nothing less than a Delhi YouTube vlogger’s clubbing montage.
If in the previous films, you loved Drax for how effortlessly likeable he was, and admired Mantis because of her naivete, in this Holiday Special they have been pushed to the point where they seem blatantly forced. And even the otherwise well-seasoned actors who played their parts could not do much to save the script. What could’ve made for a funny break-in into Kevin Bacon’s house, appears nothing more than a desperate attempt with slapstick humour.
While it is difficult to justify the random inclusion of Bacon, things go from bad to worse when an attempt at a bantering scene between the cast and Bacon falls flat.
Every character seems out of touch — we even see Nebula bust a move during the last Christmas song, again an ill-fitting attempt. Rocket, Groot and Peter don’t get too much screen time. Perhaps the only saving grace is the seemingly CGI-induced Cosmo, the SpaceDog, who makes a special appearance. Petition to get his own spinoff?
Loses itself in the Christmas trope
The attempt at making a feel-good Christmas movie for the masses during the holiday season might be well-appreciated by many viewers. But the MCU nerds may feel alienated.
Of late, the MCU movies have diverged into their different worlds, no more crossing paths. With this special though, the Guardians seem to have lost their track completely. All the space drama and wholesome humour backed against the fascinating soundtrack, this special retains none of what the first couple of movies offered. No, the alien-induced twist on the lyrics for Christmas songs don’t even come close.
For fans who admire the MCU for its intricate storytelling and attention to detail, Holiday Special is anything but that. Even the recent releases such as Hawkeye or WandaVision seem to steer closer to the original plot in some way. Not this one.
It works as a Christmas movie for kids who want to watch a bunch of space heroes do funny things. Even though the references will be confusing for any newbie to MCU as it usually is. But for someone who is invested in this universe, it’s a shoddy waste.
Still a better watch than She-Hulk, though.