Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 2017
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a semi-surprise hit. I say semi because even at that point, anything with “Marvel Studios” plastered in front of it would be in for a certain amount of success. And as for James Gunn, I enjoyed his previous film Super but still haven’t gotten around to his quirky horror movie Slither. And as much as I loved the first movie, I expected this second one to be more of the same. Following in the footsteps with the same level of chemistry and humor and for the most part, that’s what I got. But more than that, I got a level of heart that I wasn’t quite expecting, and some major themes of family that I imagine must be present in the later Fast and the Furious movies, though I also haven’t seen any of those just yet. And finally, as with most of my new release reviews, I will be discussing the film as a whole including any potential spoilers.
While family was a theme in the original Guardians of the Galaxy, the sequel takes a slightly different approach to it. The most obvious aspect of this is bringing in Peter Quill’s biological father played by Kurt Russell who happens to be a celestial and basically a living planet who can manifest himself into a humanoid avatar. Because raccoons and trees weren’t far enough out there. And on top of that, we also get an expanded look at Peter’s adoptive father Yondu where he basically sacrifices his ship, his career with the Ravagers, and eventually his life for Peter. We get to see that being a father isn’t just about biology, and being tough can also be tough love. But Peter’s family isn’t the only one in question, we also get “family” moments between Gamora and Nebula, Yondu and his crew of Ravagers, and practically everyone and baby Groot.
What was so special about the first Guardians of the Galaxy was the mix between likable characters and the comedy and that follows suit here in the sequel just as much. There is nothing better than hearing Drax’s laugh and it happens plenty of times here. Without having to introduce the old characters again, they fall right in line with their group roles. There are a handful of new characters who are just as unique and interesting as the initial core group. Mantis is an odd and naive creature with extra large eyes and empathic abilities. Peter’s father Ego falls very much in line with what you might expect the father of Star Lord to be. And baby Groot has some of the best moments where he is just acting like a mischievous child who doesn’t know any better. We’re also introduced to the Sovereign race who are basically a “perfect” society with genetically superior beings who initially seem like allies but quickly become enemies to the Guardians. The Sovereigns are an interesting choice as their tendency towards genetic perfection could have been a more overt political commentary and could still be a more subtle one but it’s never something that detracts from the sheer amount of fun to be had from beginning to end, especially when their remotely piloted drones are accompanied by 80’s era arcade sound effects.
What really helps sell this film apart from the rest of recent superhero cinema is the amount of color. It’s not something that you often think about, but especially when you’re looking at the muted and dreary films that have dominated the DCEU, with the minor exclusion of some parts of Suicide Squad, and even much of the MCU. But this film shines with bright colors that pop off the screen and fall right in line with the light and breezy tone and comedy of this film. The comedy as a whole is also a fun combination of pop culture references, character moments, as well as physical comedy without leaning too hard towards any one of those. It also has its fair share of surprising celebrity cameos, starting off with the generally well known appearance of Sylvester Stallone as the leader of all of the Ravager factions, and later a surprise appearance from David Hasselhoff.
One of the few faults of this film is that it does occasionally fall into some plot tropes. The biggest offender is when it comes to the climactic end scene and it falls right into the “It’s always darkest before the dawn” moment where it all the heroes are separated into different areas where it seems like they’re all about to die, and then something happens that turns the tide for all of them all at once. It’s still effective, but it’s something that’s been done before over and over again. It’s almost more disappointing as the film opens with several moments of building up to a trope only to subvert it. Like having almost the entire battle with this gargantuan space creature happening off screen and in the background, and even having Drax have the moment where he deliberately gets eaten in order to try and defeat the creature from the inside, except that it doesn’t actually happen that way.
Before wrapping up, there has to be at least a brief mention of the soundtrack. The classic songs were one of the highlights of the first film and so expectations were riding high for the sequel. And for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a great mix of songs once again, and they fit right into where they should go. Just like the first film, I loved where this film took me. It made me laugh, it had two much better villains than the first one with believable motivations as well as credible threat levels. The comedy and characters felt like old friends that picked up right where we left off and I’m very much looking forward to where they take me in volume three. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.