Home > Reviews > REVIEW – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

REVIEW – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn
Edited by: Fred Raskin, Craig Wood
Cinematography by: Henry Braham
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Chriss Sullivan, Sylvester Stallone
Based on characters from Marvel Comics
Year: 2017


The first Guardians of the Galaxy was the little known film that could, becoming an unexpected smash hit with audiences and critics back in 2014 despite possibly being the most obscure and quite literally out-there property to be given a major film by Marvel Studios – or, really, any previous comic book adaptation, save for maybe Howard the Duck, a fact acknowledged by Guardians’ post-credits scene. Say what you will about Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but while Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were almost certainly not on the same level as Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, they weren’t nearly as bizarre in concept as a team that features a talking, gun-toting cybernetic raccoon and his sentient tree companion whose specifically limited vocabulary makes Chewbacca’s system of howls seem plausibly understandable by comparison. Smart marketing and director/writer James Gunn’s keen sense on how to make all this palatable to even mainstream audiences, however, won out, and the film – and even its soundtrack – was, again, a massive success. Naturally, a sequel has been made.

One of the more obvious things you’ll notice about the sequel is that its plot, for all its space weirdness, is surprisingly simple and doesn’t involve much travel (unless you count… well… never mind – just see it). Starting off just a few short months after the first film, the still newly-formed, self-declared Guardians of the Galaxy are using their newfound fame to their advantage, taking up odd jobs around the galaxy in preventing certain disaster of various degrees. However, one particular job goes awry when Rocket, ever prone to cause mischief, pisses off their employer, resulting in a chase that ends abruptly by the intervention of a man calling himself Ego, who claims to be Peter’s estranged father – particularly, the one who left behind Peter’s pregnant mother and never returned, neither when she gave birth nor even when she was dying. Promising answers to Peter’s questions, Ego convinces Peter, Gamora, and Drax to journey to his planet. Rocket and Groot stay behind and watch the ship, only to be captured by the Ravagers, led by Yondu, who you may recall from the first film was the man hired by Peter’s father to abduct him from Earth all those years ago.

The way in which these two stories intersect I won’t reveal here, but let me just say that the film uses this to its advantage, allowing the film to not just build up the anticipation of an inevitable reunion and the revelation of answers, but also in providing the film with some unexpected new bits of humor not seen in the previous film. With Groot currently a toddler, the dynamic between him and Rocket has naturally reversed, while the equally anger-prone Rocket and Yondu work together to expectedly explosive and yet surprisingly moving effect. Drax, ever the literal and unaware socially awkward member of the team, also gets someone new to play off of in Mantis, a naïve empath raised by Ego who hasn’t had much contact with outsiders. It’s an oddball, humorous pairing that is strangely sweet in its own way. And, naturally, the relationship between Peter and Gamora is also revisited, but more welcome is the expansion of Gamora’s side of the story – which was one of my main complaints with the first film. Here, we get to explore more of her relationship with her vengeful sister Nebula, who also finds her way into this film in a far more organic way than you might expect. Vol. 2 manages these storylines exceptionally well, never going on too long with one story thread nor forgetting them until far too much time has passed, and the film is all the more a success because of its willingness to give each character and relationship a proper amount of time before going into its explosive climax. The film may not visit nearly as many physical locations as its predecessor, but it’s probably even more satisfying because of its insistence on developing this crucial aspect of the film properly.

If there’s any complaint I do have with the film, it would be that the humor, at times, is not nearly as sharp as the first. At times, it feels a bit too generic and forced, trying too hard to repeat the rhythms and instead falling back on easy one-liners, sight-gags, and sudden, exaggerated reactions you could easily predict based on the timing of the joke being set up. Now, mind you, I noticed this more the first time I saw this, because I saw this at a theatre that served food during the film, and the servers both mixed up my friend’s and my food and then also forgot to bring out his food. It was also very busy, and servers seemed to be zipping around a lot more than usual, so I was seriously distracted. I still liked it, but I left feeling not nearly as satisfied with the film as with the first.

Luckily, I recognized it was likely that I was not seeing it in the right context, and I had another friend who wanted to see it, so – yeah, I saw it again the next day without all the distractions and… well, it was certainly an improved experience, to say the least. I still noticed the rougher jokes, which I still say is a problem, but I was also much more engrossed in the story being told and the character relationships that were being developed. I was able to notice that the cast is still fantastic in their respective roles, and the newcomers are more than welcome additions. Kurt Russell was an excellent choice for Ego, and I particularly loved Pom Klementieff’s endearing portrayal of Mantis, too. And the music, both score and the inevitable list of classic songs, are fantastic – it may be missing an attention-grabber like Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” but this time around they’re even better incorporated into reflecting the themes and action on screen. (Also, is it just me, or did Tyler Bates sneak in musical references to a certain other MCU team the Guardians are going to be teaming up with next year?)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an excellent follow-up to the first film. Some have grievances with it not feeling as fresh as that one, and while that’s certainly true, and the film is perhaps just barely not as good, that’s only because with the first movie, we were given such an unexpected treat that it’d be impossible to recapture that kind of surprise with a sequel. However, this is a sequel that excels at giving audiences both more of what they wanted while also going in unexpected but satisfying directions you don’t normally expect from your typical action space comedy, nor your usual superhero film. Then again, Marvel Studios has proven time and again that they’re particularly good at this superhero filmmaking thing. And, in my book, they continue to not disappoint with their theatrical releases, Vol. 2 included.

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 4.5 / 5

  1. December 11, 2017 at 11:43 am

    James Gunn is clearly a fan of the work, and his love for the material shows through out the movie. Such a weird and bizarre universe so beautifully adapted to the screen…

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