Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 photo guardians_of_the_galaxy_vol_two_ver4_zpsd2l8up5k.jpg photo starrating-4stars.jpgWhen the first Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in the summer of ’14, its unqualified success came as a bit of a surprise. It was a superhero team with which most were unfamiliar and so predictions were cautious.  Being the 10th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), many assumed it would still rank somewhere in the summer’s top 10. However no one thought it would be the biggest hit of the entire season, even besting Transformers: Age of Extinction, the presumed #1.  There was a very good reason.  Guardians was an extraordinary interplanetary space adventure that perfectly blended, action, romance and melodrama – arguably the best MCU entry yet.  Now with Vol. 2, the outlook is better because we know director James Gunn can deliver the goods. However, a great sequel is the general exception, not the norm in my experience. Could Gunn capture lightning in a bottle again? I’m happy to report that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 rises to the occasion. I had my doubts, but this surpasses expectations.

The original Guardians was a candy-colored, fun-tastic sugar rush of a space dream. Yet the production design of Vol. 2 makes the first film look like a Jim Jarmusch indie. The space opera positively bursts with color, effects, and lively entertainment. Sprinkle in another soundtrack of 70s pop hits.  The formula works again.  Marvel has got another smash hit on its hands. The priority is fun and Vol. 2 is, dare I say it, even funnier than the original.  Not better, mind you.  It would have been impossible to recapture the exhilarating feeling of when we first discovered this rag tag team.  Gunn realizes this and so his focus is mining the comedy from familiar individuals and then deepening our comprehension of what makes these characters tick.

Guardians is all about family.  Director James Gunn’s screenplay manages to weave in a tale about deadbeat dads, sibling rivalry between sisters and infighting amongst the clan. This gives us a fuller grasp of characters we thought we already knew.  The unmistakable chemistry remains with this lovable bunch. There’s Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) the smart-alecky leader and tough-talking, unsmiling warrior Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Their relationship, or lack of one, is addressed through the empathic powers of new cast member, Mantis (Pom Klementieff ).   Massive galoot Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is back.  Despite his literal perception of words, he inexplicably informs the naive alien she’s ugly.  Nevertheless, there seems to be a budding romance between the two.  Also returning are the cranky bounty hunter Rocket, (voiced by Bradley Cooper), that genetically engineered raccoon, and cut from a sapling, Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).  He’s awfully dim but still cute as can be.  There’s a couple unexpected cameos thrown in and the introduction of an important new villain.  No further explanation is necessary.  I consider those details spoilers.

Guardians Vol. 2 succeeds at being both funny and deep. There’s humor to spare but there’s a poignancy to the proceedings too. We get a more well-rounded understanding of characters we know and love. Guardians gives us the laughs while serving up a lot of heart as well.  Marvel movies have always been amusing.  What sets Guardians apart from others of its ilk is the free associating pop culture aesthetic. No where is that more conspicuous than in the soundtrack.   Peter’s beloved mixtape is the sentimental link to his deceased mother.  Like its predecessor, we get a liberal sampling of 70s hits from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, ELO and Cat Stevens. The film is so loopy there’s even room for a David Hasselhoff tune.  Trust me.  It actually has context in the story.  At times, the More glitz! More dazzle! can seem like too much.  At 2 hours 18 minutes, the extended run time suffers a bit from too much bloat.  But at its best, Guardians is silly and irreverent in the best sense of the word.  This is the giddy spectacle of a summer flick that wants to party down and have fun. The production achieves this in visually spectacular fashion.  It’s an opportunity for any carefree individual to simply enjoy themselves at the cinema.   One need only be open to the invitation.  In a bit of sage advice, Drax tells Peter, “There’s two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not.”  This is a film for those who dance.

05-04-17

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18 Responses to “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Interesting to read another point of view. I didnt hate it but was pretty disappointed by it. My biggest problem was splitting them up for most the movie. It hurt everything from the emotion, action and comedy. But Baby Groot was adorable and there were fun moments but not enough for me.

    • That’s intriguing you were disappointed by that. I loved that they split them up because the story gets to expand on all of their characters and make a much deeper film. That also happens rather famously too in one of the greatest sequels of all time.

      Entertainment writer Mike Ryan said it best in his interview of James Gunn so I’ll just quote him: “In the original Star Wars a lot of time is spent bringing this group of characters we love together, and then in Empire they split them up. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does the same thing. ”

      Director James Gunn has acknowledged he used The Empire Strikes Back as a model for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and you can definitely see that in the way the narrative plays out.

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Interesting. Empire Strikes Back has an entirely different tone than this film and is expertly written story so it worked where this did not.

      • Oh the wrong tone and poor writing can definitely ruin a movie. You said your biggest problem was splitting them up so I was just responding to your statement.

        Tone seemed just as light and lively as the first. I actually thought this had even more jokes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Yeah but tone and writing would explain why splitting it up characters in one movie works and doesnt work in another. The problem is those jokes become repetitive when you dont have the mixture of the team to bounce them all off of. The tone was the same as the first but the first had the whole team. This did not.

      • It can be hard to convey why one does or does not enjoy a picture. It’s a multitude of things coming together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I absolutely love this picture. For me, it delivered in the way that I enjoy in a summer flick. I was entertained.

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        That’s awesome. I’m so glad. I certainly understand the difficulty of conveying an experience as I struggled writing my thoughts also. Back to my original comment I enjoyed reading your perspective so well done. I was entertained in parts but some of the choices they made in the story really hurt it but that’s just me

  2. The familiarity with the cast and their place in this Universe actually hurt the experience for me. I didn’t expect that element to impact my enjoyment so much but it did. This was almost exactly the same as the first, but with a cringe-inducing Daddy Issues story line and a final act that completely descends into the same CGI mess that everyone loves to tear apart DCEU for. Granted, Vol. 2 works from a stronger foundation than, say a Suicide Squad, but the final acts of both films gave me the same feelings.

    • Loved the way the narrative expanded on Peter Quill’s upbringing. It further expanded upon a character we thought we knew in such a poignant way. Michael Rooker’s chacater (Yondu) ** almost ** steals the show in the final act. I won’t go into specifics for fear of spoilers, but I kinda teared up.

  3. I’ve yet to see this one..so I thank you for the spoiler-free review!

  4. This was so great! The 3D was done so well. I loved it!! Baby Groot was awesome. I dance, I dance, this movie was for me. Great review, by the way. I totally agree with completely. 4 stars.

  5. I agree that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 rises to the occasion. It’s loaded with color, effects, and lively entertainment, like you say. I don’t think I found it funnier than the original though. I like that as a sequel it attempts to deepen your understanding of the characters, although I think Gunn does that to a fault, going overboard with trying to explore everyone’s backstory. In that way I think it makes the film clunky, especially in the moments where Gamora and Nebula are working out their differences; the film ground to a halt for me during that segment. One of my favorite things about the film is all of the things it does with perspective, especially in 3D, like the opening number with Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky, the guys getting thrown into the trees by Rocket, and the men being killed by Yondu’s arrow. I found that really creative and funny. Soundtrack was pretty good too (Mr. Blue Sky and The Chain were used perfectly), but not quite as awesome as the first film.

  6. Interesting read! absolutely love the line “This film is for those who dance.” I am proud to say that I am and always will be a dancer! I really enjoyed Guardians 2, however I simply see it as a really fun 2 hours and a bit in the cinema. I fell more in love with most of the characters, Baby Groot bringing a tear to my eyes every now and the. I love the playground humour, reminds me of all my good friendships. I Thought the in depth detail with Gamora and her sister’s history took from the humour out of what was otherwise a really enjoyable film. I found myself questioning when those specific parts would be over. Again, great review!

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