“Guardians of the Galaxy” was the surprise hit of 2014. Writer/Director James Gunn combined the fun of an adventure film and science fiction films with interpersonal family drama to deliver a film that was both comedic, exciting and visually stunning. So, with Gunn stepping back into the writer/director chair for the sequel was he able to deliver on the same magic the first film gave us? Let’s dive in and take a look at “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” in this review…
First, I can’t speak enough praise for the visuals in this movie. The style is vibrant, neon, rich, dark, and it all works together to create worlds that stand uniquely apart from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It felt almost like James Gunn decided to take everything that was awesome about video game arcades in the 1980’s and put it into his movie. Even the characters titled “The Sovereign” flew their war ships like a video game and it made sense to the plot. The “Sovereign” are perfect creations. So, of course, they wouldn’t risk their own perfect lives in space combat. They would fly their ships remotely. It was a nice little touch to story telling that emphasizes Gunn’s creativity.
The overall story didn’t make much sense to me, unfortunately. I was anticipating a Guardians of the Galaxy movie and instead of I was given something else. I have the same issue with this film that I have with “Iron Man 3.” It’s not a Guardians movie in the same way IM3 wasn’t an Iron Man movie. The title should’ve been “Guardians of the Galaxy: A Yondu Udonta Story” just like IM3 should’ve been titled “Iron Man 3: A Tony Stark Story.” The character with the biggest story arc was Yondu. Second, one could argue would be Nebula. The Guardians almost felt like ancillary characters running a sub plot to everything happening with Yondu. Also, let’s not forget “Ego the Living Planet” who is a “Celestial” and also “Caligula.” By the end of the film we still don’t know why Celestials are important but we do know that Ego likes to procreate with as many species as possible without restraint. All we know is that both Guardians film have had a Celestial in some capacity make an appearance. So, towards the end of the film when Ego tells Peter that his (Peter’s) action will remove his god status and make him like everyone else we don’t know why that’s a big deal. And curiously, Gunn seems to understand this as he wrote dialogue for Peter that asks the question on my mind, “What’s wrong with that?” What is wrong with losing god status in this cinematic universe? Why is being a Celestial important? These questions are never answered. Also, the scene where Peter and Ego play catch with an energy ball was enough to cause an eye roll to happen. Whoever approved that scene needs to be sat in a corner for 15 minutes for time out. Terrible.
I think my favorite character in this film would be Rocket. While everyone had their moments, Drax and Mantis discussing what it means to be beautiful and love/trust, Peter and Ego discussing what it means to view life forever instead of as a temporary moment, Rocket, Yondu and Groot trying to escape a prison cell together, there’s a lot of great dialogue. There’s some insightful perspectives as well to help create a film that is more than just a comedic romp through space. Gunn really explores deeper philosophical meanings in relationships and life. It’s this balance of searching for meaning and comedy that makes this a stand out film in the Marvel Cinematic universe. With regard to the humor, the jokes land for the most part. And some of the visual humor is fun. There’s plenty in this movie to enjoy and it doesn’t ever feel you’re being beaten over the head with one particular joke, or situation. There are a few jokes that don’t land at all. Two that come to mind are Nebula eating the unripe fruit and the second is the Sovereign’s carpet getting jammed while walking to speak with Yondu. These two jokes could’ve been left out and I feel the movie would’ve flowed much smoother and it wouldn’t have ruined the intensity the scenes were building towards.
Overall, I did enjoy the movie. Unfortunately, I feel that this movie was made just to set up the third volume which Gunn is writing and will be directing. Unfortunately, I don’t feel this film stands on its own at all. If you haven’t seen the first film you won’t know what’s going on with all the characters. By the end of the film you still won’t know what’s going on with all the characters because everything was being set up for Vol 3 and “Avengers Infinity War,” presumably. If you consider the new Ravagers were introduced to tie up the Yondu story and take over more responsibility in the third installment you can probably see my point more clearly.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” is in theaters now! Despite all my criticisms, I definitely recommend people see this movie on the big screen. It’s a visually delightful movie with some well placed humor and some equally heartfelt moments. There’s a lot to digest in this film and it’s a fun time at the movies. I recommend you watch the first film or revisit it before seeing this one on the big screen just so certain things and cameo’s will make more sense. I review movies and I do so honestly which means the issues I have with story, characters, etc, you might not. All art is subjective and because of that I want people to see this in theaters and enjoy how good this film looks. It’s a special effects adventure in space and totally worth your hard earned dollars. Go check it out!