The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special | tv review
Marvel's misfits celebrate a mischievously merry Christmas.
Show summary: Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket, Mantis, and Groot engage in some spirited shenanigans in an all-new original special created for Disney+. (IMDb)
I've got to say that I'm surprised that the Guardians of the Galaxy were given their own special after Werewolf by Night because these one-offs seem perfect to introduce new characters, although with rumours that Echo (spinning off from Hawkeye) is having her show trimmed from a full season down to a special too, maybe there's going to be a bit more versatility too them than I expected.
What's even more shocking about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is that there's a certain reveal about a relationship between two of the Guardians - albeit one that could be explained in a couple of lines in the upcoming Volume 3 so that no-one's left behind as it makes perfect sense in retrospect - and the VFX work is absolutely outstanding for such a silly story.
That last point really relates to the older, much more buff Groot who appears here, who seems for all the world to be a guy in a suit. I saw lots of others online feeling similar, or that he was a puppet/animatronic, but he's apparently still 100% CGI. Seriously, that's jaw-droppingly good work that is arguably better than the close-up of Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War that I could've sworn was an animatronic - they both feel like actual physical elements for the rest of the cast to interact with, but apparently not.
Praise for the astounding VFX aside - which teases that Volume 3 could be a real visual treat - the true plaudits for how enjoyable this special is have to go to Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista as Mantis and Drax respectively. Neither have really had their chance to shine since joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it's fun to get to spend some time with them before this iteration of the team comes to an end.
It's especially funny when it's the two of them heading to Earth to kidnap Kevin Bacon - playing himself - as a Christmas present for Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). They have a lot of fun and get into a fair bit of trouble before completing their mission and bringing the actor - Drax and Mantis apparently hate actors by the way - into space as their special surprise.
It really is a lot of fun to see two such weird characters as Drax and Mantis trying to get by on Earth with no real understanding of Christmas, humans or Earth in general (Drax is mistaken for a Kratos cosplayer at one point!). The story also ends with a very nice, very Christmassy feel which makes it even more surprising that it wasn't released closer to the holidays than it was.
The biggest problem for me though is that the Guardians don't really feel all that special or unique anymore, so while everything here is highly entertaining, it does feel kind of like a lot of stuff we've already had, but with a layer of Christmas decorations to cover it all up. Apparently, Volume 3 is going to be quite a serious movie - albeit with a heavy dose of humour - which I'm really hoping for as I think the Guardians do need shaking up quite a bit.
To be fair, if you like the Guardians, you'll love this special and it's just short enough to leave you wanting more while being long enough to tell the story it wants to tell. Even if you're not a fan of the team, it's still enjoyable enough thanks to how much of the story takes place on Earth and Kevin Bacon's involvement, giving proceedings a certain level of grounding that the team doesn't usually have with their cosmic escapades.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is slight, but fun all the same. It's good to give Drax and especially Mantis some of the attention, and they prove to be a brilliant comedic duo - although Pom Klementieff is genuinely intimidating at times when she gets angry! It's a very funny, very Christmassy adventure that I think even people who aren't fans of the Guardians will enjoy.