Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Jack Brink

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Rating: PG-13

Score: 9 out of 10

Full disclosure, I am a huge Guardians of the Galaxy fan. I love everything about the movies. I love their wonderfully bizarre characters, I love their unique space setting that allows for endless stories, I love the unexpected emotion each film brings, and I absolutely love the awesome soundtracks each film has. Guardians of the Galaxy is by far my favorite MCU property, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now officially my favorite movie of all time.

That is what makes this review so hard, because even though it is an absolutely fantastic, exhilarating film, it’s not without its flaws. Therefore, while it may be my favorite movie of all time, I sadly cannot say it’s the best movie I’ve ever seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released worldwide on May 5, 2017, and, to the surprise of no one, has already made an insane amount of money and has received universal praise. Another round of excellent cast chemistry, superb humor, surprising emotion, out-of-this-world effects, and another great Awesome Mix can be thanked for that.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 picks up a couple months after the first film, where we see the Guardians, Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the now Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesal), doing their whole “guarding the galaxy” thing while also dealing with a whole host of enemies and problems. These enemies being Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and her Sovereign race who see themselves as superior to all living beings, Ravengers including Yondu (Michael Rooker) and…I swear to God, you better not laugh…Taserface (Chris Sullivan), as well as Gamora’s estranged evil sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan). Throw in the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russel), who may or may not be Peter’s father, and his assistant, the empathic Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and you’ve got a crazy week for the Guardians.

There’s so much to love about this movie. It was able to take everything from the first movie and expand on it greatly to a very high percentage of success. James Gunn is an absolute visionary in the directors’ chair, taking a film franchise that had no reason whatsoever to succeed or be any good (Vin Diesal plays a tree who says three words for crying out loud) and has somehow turned it into the freshest, most fun franchise going. He has made the perfect choices in every aspect, from the script, to the music, to the cast of the film.

Speaking of the cast, if James Gunn is the driver of the GOTG car, then the outstanding cast he has to work with is undoubtedly the engine. I’ve never seen a movie where literally every character’s actor or actress is deserving of praise. There is not one single weak link acting wise in this film. Everyone has been perfectly cast for their roles, and each bring an air of complexity and emotions that make them the most dynamic characters in the MCU. The cast must have an awesome time on set together, as their chemistry is off the charts. It’s so easy to be invested in the friendships and relationships of the film, as everything feels so genuine and true, obviously due to the excellent actors on screen.

While I could go on for hours highlighting the film’s entire cast, the highest of praise has to go to two characters in particular. The first being Bautista’s Drax. No character has made me belly laugh so many times in a single movie. His laugh is infectious. Who knew that the former WWE pro-wrestler would be a scene stealer in a movie featuring such a terrific cast?  He’s a comedic force all throughout the film and I couldn’t even begin list all the quotable things he says. Doubling down on the comedic side of Drax was a brilliant idea on James Gunn’s part, and Bautista stepped up to the plate big time in that aspect. Now I’m not going to spoil anything about the film, but just let me tell you Kurt Russel is epic in this movie. This is to be expected from a living planet. Russel is captivating as Ego, and brings enthralling, raw emotion in every scene he is in. Ego is a character that no MCU fan will ever forget.

As mentioned earlier, GOTG Vol. 2 yet again nails the (almost) perfect balance of comedy, action, and emotion, doubling down and mostly improving on all three areas. The comedy in this film is increased a thousand fold from the last film, and a solid 95% of it lands. While it loses somewhat of its comedic subtlety from the original film, its huge increase of comedic output and quotable lines more than enough makes up for it. Being a Marvel movie, the action scenes are of course marvelous (I couldn’t resist), with their choreography being top of the line and the special effects used in this movie being some of the best, most visually stunning effects I’ve ever seen in a movie. The effects are truly some of the most well-made, vibrant, and awe inspiring ever put to screen, and really bring huge life and character to the steadily growing and wonderfully weird Marvel Cosmic Universe and all those who inhabit it. The emotion and beautiful sentiments return from the first film, and are wonderfully used to add human tragedy and depth to characters you wouldn’t expect it from, such as the talking space trash panda, which goes a long way in developing characters and keeping them dynamic throughout. There are some really fantastic arcs for multiple characters in this film, which wouldn’t be possible without the huge amount of feels GOTG Vol. 2 brings with its comedy.

All this greatness is set to the tunes of Awesome Mix Vol. 2, which is another wonderful collection of classic songs from the 70’s and 80’s and used perfectly in the scenes they’re in to set the tone and emotion Gunn is aiming for in a particular shot. I felt the use of music improved this time around, as the songs used in the movie had a much more direct relation to the plot. The songs were also great for deeper analysis of the meaning of the song and how it relates to the characters or scene at hand; “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and “Father and Son” come to mind.

There’s so much right with Guardians of the Galaxy, that the good far and away outweighs the bad. It can’t be said, however that this movie is perfect, as there are some flaws. One of the biggest being the Guardians team is separated for a good portion of the film, which really makes it hard for the entire cast’s chemistry to shine through at parts, and makes the early conflict between Peter and Rocket seem underdeveloped and insignificant, even though it was supposed to be a very big part.

Aside from this, while the emotion and character development shown throughout was great, a lot of it seems to be shown way too bluntly, as if the movie is hitting you over the head with blatantly spoken symbolism instead of nuanced subtlety that lets you think for yourself. It’s great to have this kind of emotion displayed on screen, it just could have been done in a much better, less dumbed down way.

This is very similar the film’s problem with comedy, as while I said that 95% of the comedy landed, the 5% that didn’t were either too juvenile or stupid for a film of such high caliber. It must also be said that Guardians narrowly avoids the long running MCU problem of forcing too much comedy into a film, especially in serious scenes. While there are definitely some scenes that feel hugely tonally inconsistent because of the mix of complete depression or horror and great comedy, this doesn’t affect the film as much as it did to films like Doctor Strange, as the GOTG franchise is always supposed to be a ridiculous, funny adventure series.

In addition, Baby Groot is everything pure and right in the world and was completely a great idea to include in the film. The opening credit sequence (One of the best and most creative I’ve ever seen in a film) should be more than enough to tell you that.

While it may not be as tight and concise as its predecessor, GOTG Vol. 2 is undoubtedly a more than worthy sequel, and expands and improves upon many areas of the film (despite its faults). I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. It is one of the most fun, visually striking, emotional, and comedic roller coasters of a film you will ever have the pleasure of watching.

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