Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Like many people I was eagerly awaiting the release of Marvels next cinematic masterpiece and the next instalment in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 was released on the 28th April 2017 and was written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.

This film banked heavily on what was successful about the previous Guardians of the Galaxy movie but it knew exactly what it was doing and avoided the curse of sequels by being just as good if not better than the previous movie.

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Guardian’s travel throughout the cosmos saving people and stealing things. While on their adventures they encounter Ego, Peter Quill’s father and discover more about his heritage and where he belongs.

While I think that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was a fantastic film and it certainly did better than anyone ever expected, especially since it follows a relatively unknown marvel team it relied on its soundtrack more than any other movie I can think of in recent history with the possible exception to suicide Squad. Now it’s not a bad thing, vol. 1 has an amazing soundtrack, a real mixtape of the best songs of the 80’s and they provide emotional context to Peter ‘Starlord’ Quills journey and even give the baby tree Groot a chance to dance but because of how massively important and awesome the music was and how much it impacted the story I was a little disappointed by the second movie.

I feel the need to qualify that statement before I get any angry comments, I know how strongly people can feel about their comic book movies but for me at least it just didn’t match up. Now I’m readily admitting that may be a personal hangup after all I love music and in particular how it’s used in TV and Movies to make a good scene an epic one and I got that in spades with the first movie and not so much with the second one. Now it did start off well, we had an action packed opening scene where the Guardians who’ve been working together for a few months now since the first movie are fighting some big space monster to protect some super powerful batteries for a race of golden people called the sovereign. The entire scene is cut with Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr. Blue Sky which punctuates the scene incredibly well and we get to see baby Groot dancing…and man I can’t get enough of that little twig. So it started so well and then it mostly dismissed using the songs in that way. Sure it was a different type of movie, whereas the first one had been all about adventure, and the guardians coming together and kicking ass…which needs good music. The second movie is about introspection, we have a more mature Peter, trying to manage his feelings for Gamora, be a leader to a band of misfits and work out who he is and where he came from now that he knows he’s not just human. I fully understand not having upbeat music to shake fists at I really do but I just feel that the Intro with ELO wrote a cheque the rest of the movie didn’t cash. The only other truly meaningful song in the movie…at least to my recollection was Looking Glass’s ‘Brandy’ and that’s only because it has great significance to both Peter and his dad Ego because the core message is about leaving those you love to return to where you belong. Ego uses this song to subtly manipulate Peter into joining him and so I can’t in all honestly say that music wasn’t again used well or properly in this way but it was done differently and I’d have been fine with that for the most part but the entire movie is built on making a better version of the first movie, looking at what did and didn’t work and coming away from that with a touching and funny and awesome film that people will be talking about for months.

I’m going to move on from the music now to talk about a few moments in the movie that I thought were significant. I’ll do my best to avoid any spoilers. Yondu plays an important part in this, arguably the most important part second only to Ego. He’s different in this movie, a little broken and definitely lonely, I guess he misses his boy. Yeah Yondu“I’m Mary Poppins Y’all” Udonta has a big heart…I wonder if it’s blue? And he’s going to make sure that Peter doesn’t forget now that he’s found his real dad who raised him all these years. Another character who goes through a similar transformation is Rocket. He fights it every step of the way by fighting with Peter and stealing and frankly taking way too much joy in catapulting enemies repeatedly up into the air to crash back to the ground but it happens…with the aid of Yondu in fact. Rocket discovers that although he might not be perfect and he hates or at least is ashamed of his own existence (something they touched on in the first movie) he still deserves to be loved. I don’t think it’ll change who he is too much though so for those who love the furry little trash panda the way he is don’t expect him to become too nice. Another big change is Drax, now I wasn’t 100% on board with this one at first. Most of Drax actions in the first movie are motivated by revenge and anger, I mean he even drunk dials Ronan the accuser to finally get that revenge but a lot of that seems to have been cut out of him or maybe shoved under the rug so we can deal with Peters daddy issues and rocket’s whole being a raccoon thing but whatever the issues I don’t feel like it’s resolved. Sure Ronan is dead by this point but as anyone who’s lost family will say revenge isn’t really the answer he’d still be angry and confused. The only real hint we get about how he’s really feel is that the resident touch empath got him talking about his daughter and then she felt his deep sadness.

Now I for one understand using humour as a defence mechanism against deep profound sadness and loss but it’s just hard to balance up the sadness and the emotional sincerity of that scene with the guy who in the same movie brags about his epically big turds. Now I’m not saying if you poop you can’t feel sadness, and if a certain kids book had taught me anything it’s that everyone poops but most of the movie he’s comic relief, he’s big and not too brainy and doesn’t understand social norms…although he seems to have stopped taking things literally like he did in the last movie but we only get a small glimpse into his sorrow and while everyone else was getting some sort of resolution or meaningful growth I feel like he was overlooked. Maybe we’re meant to assume he’s fine or they needed to save some development for the third movie but in my opinion they shafted Drax just a little. However saying that out of everyone he balances the group the most and is most in favour of it staying together, it may just be the loneliness or the loss of his real family but he’s latched onto his surrogate family quite quickly and maybe because he’s found a new family he is/the writers are making his character just get over his loss and adapt and make the best of the family he’s got now.

For the most part this movie didn’t kill anybody…except a giant living planet. Several times the Guardians come into contact with the Sovereign but they are each time wiped out while the GOTG (Guardians of the Galaxy) are left standing…or more realistically sitting in their ship. This is accomplished by having the sovereign pilot their fleet remotely in some giant space arcade. It takes some tension out of it and makes the whole thing seem a little more pointless at times but also means that the GOTG aren’t just wholesale wiping out hundreds or thousands of aliens to cover up a theft. Personally I could have done without the whole sovereign thing. The movie didn’t really need a secondary antagonist and if it did then the Ravagers would have served nicely but sadly the writers felt the need to have these gold aristocratic aliens go crazy and start what amounts to an interstellar feud for a relatively small slight against them. Still it’s important because they will no doubt be important in the next movie.

This film had its flaws but to be honest it was difficult to really pick them out. Overall it was a fun and touching movie that didn’t so much rely on the success of its predecessor as wisely understand and utilise what made it good in the first place. It also tied up loose ends and put us well on track for a third movie. Honestly when I was watching it I just enjoyed it so much. Literally my biggest complaint  was about the Stan Lee cameo but I won’t bore you with what I think about that. So with all of that in mind I’m going to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 8.5/10 and I’ll say that I’m incredibly excited for the third movie and I can’t wait for this one to come out on DVD.


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