[THERE WILL BE NO MAJOR PLOT DETAILS SPOILED IN THIS REVIEW, ONLY WHAT WAS ALREADY IN THE TRAILERS]
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is the sequel to 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the 15th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It features the infamous bunch of jackasses in a very different situation than the last time we saw them. After saving Xandar from Ronan the Accuser and establishing themselves as a rag-tag team for hire, we end up learning a lot about where each of our Guardians are coming from and what they’ve dealt with beforehand. Specifically, Star Lord gets to finally meet his father and discover more about himself and what makes him special (aside from the fact that he’s Chris Pratt).
Since I saw this movie on the red carpet in the middle of April, I’ve been thinking about this one and seeing other reactions/reviews for a while now. If you have been seeing other reactions too you might be aware that things are kind of mixed, although generally positive. What I mean is that some are saying they liked it more than the first/didn’t enjoy it as much, thought it was forced/thought it was hilarious, etc.
As for where I stand, I personally enjoyed this one more than the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” because writer/director James Gunn appealed to my love of character study and made a very thematically consistent movie. I will say that I thought the first one was a little funnier, but that doesn’t mean the jokes didn’t land for me on this one. I genuinely loved this movie…so lets get in to details!
This movie is ALL about its characters, as all of our Guardians get a bit of an arc and some depth with each other/their backgrounds. I would say Drax was a little underdeveloped, but he more than makes up for it by stealing the show whenever he’s on screen and interacting with another Guardian, specifically Star Lord. Seriously, Dave Bautista delivers even more than he did last time and I can see him walking away as the favorite for many moviegoers…just below Baby Groot, that is. Unfortunately, talking about the development with Star Lord and his Dad would be giving away a ton so I can’t say much about it. What honestly surprised me wasn’t even the father-son relationship, it was what we get between the sisters: Gamora and Nebula. Not only is Nebula more important in this and the two actually act like feuding sisters, but we get some juicy insight to their upbringing and we find out that Thanos is…well…kind of messed up. Sure, those familiar with Marvel before the MCU already knew that, but hearing about some specifics and not having Thanos appear in the movie at all really worked in terms of establishing him for later. It somewhat reminded me of the “Godzilla” thing where you hear/see the gruesome things he can do without actually seeing him in action until much later, which i’m not usually a fan of…but in this case it was a good little detail since this guy is supposed to be this “Mad Titan” and we’ve seen him do literally nothing but sit in a chair and pick up a glove.
Something that totally came out of a left field for me was how much time the movie spends on Yondu Udonta (the blue guy who whistles from the last movie…for those who forgot). Yondu is HUGE in this movie as a character, and surprisingly makes quite a fun pair with Rocket. Michael Rooker absolutely kills it as Yondu and it was very pleasant to see him on screen. The focus on him actually helps the audience understand some of our other characters better, and I hope making Yondu more important gets better reception from audiences than the whole “Hawkeye is suddenly a big deal” thing in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.
My other huge reason for liking this movie a lot was because you can tell exactly what vision Gunn had in mind while writing the script. I mentioned earlier that this is thematically very strong, and the theme that Gunn keeps throughout the movie is a simple, yet important, one: Family. As cliche as it sounds, the Guardians go from being “a bunch of Jackasses” to being a real family (insert Fate of the Furious joke here) by the end of the movie. Before the movie played at the red carpet premier, Gunn specifically mentioned that he made this for his parents and that he loves them, and that really showed throughout his work…and isn’t expressing something important to you the point of creating? The fact that he was able to make that come across so well in a comic book movie only helps fans like me justify that comic movies aren’t simply shallow, formulaic popcorn-flicks.
Despite how much I loved Gunn’s direction here, I do have some negatives. Pacing issues were a little prevalent in the first and second acts. The Sovereign (the gold people in the trailers you see) might be the most bland MCU-villainous-henchmen army I’ve seen..maybe even more one-dimensional than Ultron’s robot clones. I get that they’re going to be more important later, but some of my least favorite parts of the movie were when they were on screen. Additionally, subtlety isn’t really a strong suit in the script. If the last comic book movie you saw was “Logan”, it’ll definitely feel weird being hit over the head with subtext rather than figuring it out for yourself. The soundtrack is good, but isn’t as “iconic” as the previous movie for me (my friends still break out into “Hooked on a Feeling” on road-trips)…then again, I listen to drugged-up-RnB so I might not be the best person to ask on that one. This last one is a personal complaint (because he’s kinda my hero and we share the same birthday and same height) but Stallone is very sparingly used in the movie, do not go in expecting him to interact with any other protagonists/antagonists much. Still more screen time than Jared Leto’s Joker, though.
Lastly, thought I’d rip this band-aid off quickly: Yes, there are 5 post-credit scenes. No, none of them have anything to do with Infinity War, Spiderman, Thor, Black Panther, etc. They’re all confined to things relating to the Guardians, and there’s no set-up for any future MCU titles except the likely “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″…and even the set-up for that isn’t too obvious. These are just fun things to see after the movie and nothing more (the one with Groot had me laughing uncontrollably, so stick around for that).
To wrap this up, I really enjoyed seeing the Guardians have a stronger foundation and some solid growth. Thinking about it long term, making them more “human” and solidifying their friendship will definitely be interesting once they meet the Avengers, who are super divided right now, next year to take on Thanos. Gunn has done it again for me, taking this incredibly obscure group of D-list superheroes that maybe 0.5 in 10 people knew about beforehand…and making them awesome, hilarious, and relatable.
I’m giving “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” an initial Soggz Blogs rating of 9/10.