Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is the sequel to the incredibly surprising original Guardians of the Galaxy which gained great critical and financial success. It is again directed by the visionary that is James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and the voice work of Vin diesel and Bradley Cooper. They are the titular Guardians and after a run in with ‘The Sovereign’, the Guardians run into Kurt Russel who is in fact a planet in a man’s body and he just happens to be Peter Quill’s (Pratt) dad. That is all I feel you should know about this film before you go in, very little, because the marketing campaign did an excellent job of not showing too much and it leads to a much better experience when watching the film.
When I said that James Gunn was a visionary I’m not sure that even covers it. This film looks incredible. The extent of Gunn’s imagination is baffling from the costumes to the design of the various planets and ships. There aren’t words to describe how awesome it all looks. I would pay a lot of money to just see some story boards or concept art for this film. Just to see how the visuals were created. Not only the imagination should be applauded here. The CGI in this film is impeccable from start to finish, I’m not sure I’ve seen a film where the CGI is so consistently flawless throughout. It rivals the new Planet of the Apes films. The attention to detail is outstanding, every character has a unique and distinctive design even if they aren’t a character. I can’t imagine the time It wold have taken to dress all the extras and give them all their makeup. You’re never taken out of the film it is entrancing locked into it and you never feel like you’re watching a film, for all you know it could be a documentary.
Let’s talk about the Guardians. Firstly, Star Lord, I’ve always loved Chris Pratt ever since Parks and Rec and that love continues into this film. Not only is he funny in parts, he also is called upon to pull of some ‘proper acting’ there are emotional moments during the film and he executes them very well. I also enjoyed his competitive chemistry with Rocket, who continues to be a very interesting character, wonderfully voiced by Bradley Cooper yet again. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula’s (Karen Gillan) relationship evolves further from the first film. We learn some disturbing things about their back story which raise questions over whether we like Gamora, is she a good person? What is even better is that we get her side of the story also. You feel for both characters and understand why they do or did what they do or did. I have heard some complaints about Karen Gillan’s performance but I really don’t get it, I think she plays Nebula perfectly and the same can be said for Zoe Saldana who also shares great chemistry with Chris Pratt. Drax (Dave Bautista) is again absolutely hilarious the writing for him is amazing, I love his blunt one liners which he delivers to every character. He also has a developing relationship with Mantis which I find very interesting. Mantis is played by Pom Klementieff who I think is incredible in this role. She is so adorable yet hilarious, a real bright spot in this film along with her relationship with Drax. And of course, Baby Groot is just everything you expected and wanted. On the surface, he’s a cute outlet for comedy but there are some dark layers to his character. There are some seriously sad scenes with him involved and you can tell by his interactions with other characters that he is aware that he has the potential to kill everyone in the room but in his current state he can’t do it and it angers him.
The two most important characters except for Peter Quill are his two father figures Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his actual Dad Ego (Kurt Russel). Yondu might be my favourite character in the entire film, I love what they did with him. They introduce a whole lot of back story with him and the ravagers which I found awesome, I love me some universe building. Michael Rooker also smashed it out of the park with his performance there is one scene that might bring you to tears. Kurt Russel is the man. That basically sums it all up really. He is the perfect father for Peter Quill although most of his scenes are exposition based there are a couple of scenes where he shines with a great connection with Pratt, where there is the actual feeling of admiration because it’s real Chris Pratt loves him in real life and that shows in the film.
Another bright spark is Sylvester Stallone, he has a bit more than a cameo but not an integral part, And I will just say that by the end of it you will be drawling for a spin-off with him. Speaking of cameos Stan Lee’s might be the greatest and most significant (alright maybe not as good as Deadpool’s) appearance yet.
This film is insanely enjoyable, I’d say that 90% of the humour lands but when it doesn’t land I’m left thinking how on earth through all the stages of development did that scene make the cut. There are some parts of the film where it becomes a comedy rather than a funny film it gets a bit too bonkers and stupid. I think that the narrative of the entire film is sacrifice for some laughs. The first half of the film sort of feels like a series of sketches all chucked together it doesn’t flow very well and then the last 30 minutes feel like the end to a very good film but not the one I was watching. I think this is indicative of the entire film, it’s all just very busy. There’s the Sovereign who are just there to move the plot along they attack then they go away and shout a bit. Then they attack again and shout some more. They show up when the story is stagnating so we can have another big ol’ fight. Speaking of the fights, they all look incredible but there’s not much to them. There doesn’t feel like there is any stakes, we know that they’re probably not going to die and when the Milano gets damaged Rocket has some magic spray that somehow creates matter that fixes everything.
Although I enjoy the scenes with all the Guardians, they all have good chemistry and play off of each other well. But apart from Star Lord, no one does anything. Rocket makes some bombs and stuff; Baby Groot runs around and screams; Gamora pines after Star Lord; Drax THE DESTROYER does no destroying. There is a scene where Yondu genuinely murders what looks like hundreds of people in about 2 minutes but then after that he’d not up to much. There was too much emphasis on Chris Pratt being THE main character. I get that the film’s story revolved around him but I would like to have seen more of the Guardians fighting together all doing their thing.
This is an odd film, I find myself finding quite a lot of flaws but I still walked out of the cinema thinking “yeah that was pretty good” I did enjoy this film very much. Is it better than the first? I’m not sure. The first film is amazing right until the end, where I feel it remembers it’s a Marvel film and they need a big battle in the sky. This film turns that on its head, there is the inevitable sky battle but they do something very original and ’Guardians-y’ with that idea.
Something that the first has on the second is the soundtrack. I think that they were setting themselves up for failure when they knocked it out of the park with the original soundtrack, they were never going to follow it up were they? I cannot tell you a single song that was in this film I can’t even google some lyrics to find out the name of a song. I remember that there was one song that was quite important to the plot but all I can put together is it was something to do with the sea. The songs aren’t very well integrated into the film that well. People just go “hey can we get some music” and somehow, they have a copy of the ‘Awesome Mix Vol 2’ which Peter didn’t even open until a few months ago. This is one of a few inconsistencies from the first to the second film, which I would not expect from Gunn. However, they do something incredibly funny with the music at the end of the film which might be the best joke in the entire film. The other music in this film, the score, is surprisingly good. Marvel aren’t usually very good with creating ‘a score’ for certain characters. They almost completely ignore the Alan Silvestri’s amazing Avengers theme. But in this film you get the hints of the theme from the original film, they also build on it. I was really impressed by the score for this film.
There’s something about the film which feels odd. It kind of feels dense, it drains you. A lot of information is dumped on you. I had plans to see it the next day but I found myself not wanting to. I will probably see it again in a week or so but I didn’t have the urge to see it again coming out of the film.
Like I said, I really liked this film and I feel bad that for some reason I have so many negatives. But I think that this film becomes better when you take a step back and think of it as a second film in a trilogy, James Gunn has already announced he will come back for a third film and I believe there was a reason for this. He wanted people to think of this film as not just a sequel but two-thirds of a trilogy. I feel that, with superhero films, I need to justify why I like them because – maybe – they’re looked down upon more than other films and to like them you also need to see the flaws. When it comes to these films there is also going to be faults. But with this and many other films, when you look at the whole films the flaws sort of fall away because they’re just enjoyable. Which is why I’m going to stick it to the man and say this film is…
Yeah… really sticking it to the man.