Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): An Uneven Follow-Up
In August of 2014, we were all dazzled and surprised at the first major risk by Marvel Studios in Guardians of the Galaxy. Filled with crazy characters and a delightfully different tone, Guardians worked on practically all fronts. Now, after three long years of waiting, the Guardians are back! But did they deliver on the thrills this time around? The following Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review will be spoiler free.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is once again directed by James Gunn and brings back the great cast of the first film that included Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista alongside some new additions such as Kurt Russell. After the events of the first film, the Guardians have taken up a new job for a race of people that are entirely gold by protecting some of their property. However, after the planned deal goes awry, a man named Ego (who we later find out to be Starlord’s father) saves the day and takes all the Guardians to his home world. Everything seems to be going along just fine until a more sinister plan is uncovered by the Guardians which threatens the fate of the universe.
As you are most definitely aware, the MCU is ramping up into high gear for the culmination of all their movies into the massive, highly anticipated Infinity Wars that is scheduled to hit theaters on May 4th, 2018. After Iron Man kick-started this whole superhero craze in 2008, it’s pretty incredible to think that Infinity Wars is an actual movie that will exist in a year’s time.
But that’s not why you clicked on this Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review. You want to hear about the highly anticipated follow-up to what many consider their favorite MCU film.
Chris Pratt was quoted saying that Guardians 2 was going to be the biggest spectacle movie ever created. While he was obviously speaking with some hyperbole, there was definitely some merit to those remarks. When you combine great characters returning with what seemed to be crazy, colorful celestial landscapes, who knows, maybe Pratt wasn’t smoking something before he dropped that hot take.
Either way, we all know that we were looking forward to this film.
What I Liked
From a big picture perspective, I truly admire James Gunn’s gall in making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a really weird film. Films that take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are consistently good, but few transcend the cookie-cutter nature of the template present in each film to create great success. But Gunn has put his stamp on this franchise, making it one of the most different (and likable) franchises that we have today. There are a lot of plot points and story beats that are so bizarre and strange that a ton of credit needs to be given to Marvel Studios for finally allowing themselves to branch out past genre conventions. You know your movie is different when Pac-Man makes an important appearance in a pivotal action sequence.
And yes, you read that last sentence correctly.
James Gunn’s sensibilities bleed into the nooks and crannies of the script for Guardians 2 as well. While I found the soundtrack of Vol. 2 to be less catchy than its predecessor, there was one song in particular that is actually woven into the story and serves a major purpose in the growing relationship between Starlord and Ego. Little moments like are what make James Gunn an incredible talent and make his films full of heart and subtext.
What I Like…Continued
But these smaller moments are not the only witty, fun bits to view in this sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy, for better or for worse, may be even funnier than the original. Dave Bautista steals the show as Drax once again. It’s clear that he has grown even more comfortable in this role, spouting deadpan insults with glee. There are a lot of great character dynamics in Guardians 2, but one of the best may be Drax’s relationship with newcomer Mantis. It’s mean-spirited, charming, and hilarious.
There are certainly some character beats that really stuck with me, especially from Yondu in a surprise turn. There’s an excess amount of heart and discussion of family here that really works, even if it wasn’t all necessary. With all its flaws, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 keeps you invested with its great, likable characters.
For those wondering, yes, Baby Groot is adorable. Get in line for your toys now!
What I Disliked
For the all the lovely parts of Guardians 2, the plot is a serious mess.
I struggled coming up with a plot synopsis for this review, mostly due to the fact that the plot for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t really kick in until the last fifteen minutes. This film brings even more jokes and character moments than the first film, but it unfortunately puts the story on the back-burner to do so.
After a quick, busy action sequence that starts off the movie, the film dips into a lull for a majority of the film’s run time of which it never fully recovered. Once a majority of the characters arrive in a certain location, they remain there for the rest of movie.
This attribute isn’t necessarily a negative, bigger budget movies that take place in more confined locations have produced great products in the past like last year’s Star Trek Beyond with a ton of entertainment. However, it’s what the film does once that location is set that makes or breaks the film.
What I Disliked…Continued
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has that issue of having events occur but having a small amount of them actually move the plot forward or add anything to the story, giving the film a fluffy, underwritten feel. I wonder if Gunn and Co. were too concerned telling jokes to make a plot that captivates its audience.
There’s a serious pacing issue to Guardians. Nothing is very exhilarating for the middle portion of the film. I don’t need wall to wall action from a movie to work, but there needs to a moment that breaks up the character beats so that I don’t slump into my seat and yawn. I admire James Gunn for trying to give a major focus to all our lovable characters, but it came at the expense of great storytelling as the entire middle portion felt incredibly repetitive with every character trying to tell their life story. This movie could have easily had twenty minutes stripped away and it would have been a serious benefit.
We already love these characters for the heart their backstories were given in the first film. Why bog down the second film with a retread of those same character beats?
There’s also some pretty awful CGI and green screen and hand here that really took me out of the film.
The last criticism I have (before the comment section eats me alive) is that Marvel once again fails to give a compelling villain…in one instance. There’s one villain group that felt so forced and cheesy that it should have been in a 70’s campy, sci-fi adventure.
Unfortunately for my movie-going experience (and possibly for my comment section and self-esteem), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a bit of a letdown for this critic. I love the Guardians, but not necessarily the film they were in. It gets a B. This film is lucky that James Gunn has crafted some incredible characters that I will always love. It might have saved this movie for me.
Thanks for reading my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review! What did you think of the movie? Comment down below and let me know!
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