The summer blockbuster season of 2017 has officially kicked off. The sequel to the surprise hit movie of 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy, has christened a sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The movie brings back James Gunn in the writer/director chair. The cast that includes; Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan reprise their roles from the first movie. The are joined by newcomers; Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki. The movie takes place only a few month after the first and thus continues the main plot points set up in that.
The Guardians of the Galaxy have developed a reputation as basically mercenaries. Working for the golden species, the Sovereign to take out a threat, it should have been simple. After the job goes awry, they are rescued by Ego who just happens to be the father of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. While this is happening, Gamora is reunited with her sister Nebula and Yondu and the Ravagers are hired by the Sovereign to hunt down the Guardians due to Yondu’s connection to Quill.
If that sounds like a lot, then you’re right. The whole motif around the two Guardians movies have been the mixtape soundtracks. While this works for the soundtrack, it does not really work well for the movie itself. There are a lot of balls in the air and the movie loses focus when doing this. It is easy to see why this was an option as it gave mostly everyone mostly something to do. This is for the most part true as every main character has their own arcs to follow before they all converge at the end.
This movie is frankly…trippy. Since it is so loosely connected to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the moment, the creative team is free to do what they want. If you have an issue with bright colors and psychedelic imagery, then this is not the movie for you. James Gunn has taken full advantage of having a movie set in outer space as no planet or sky or atmosphere is ever the same and definitely not like anything on Earth. A standout sequence is when some of the characters have to make multiple space jumps and the effects it has on a person’s body.
One of the big selling points of the first movie was the humor. Personally, I enjoyed it for what it was but I didn’t love it. This movie does the classic thing of “sequel-itis” in the case of amping up what people loved about the first movie and repeating. After awhile, it became a bit much. It bordered on if I was wondering if these characters could have a normal conversation with one another without any sort of zinger attached. It makes sense to want to capitalize on what worked in theory but when executed it becomes quite annoying after a while.
Since little time has passed since the events of the first movie, most of the characters are pretty much the same. The big difference being Drax. While he was fairly serious if something of a blowhard, here he is pure comic relief. In fact he does very little destroying despite it being in his name. Dave Bautista really nails his role. Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan are fine as the daughters of Thanos and they’re complex relationship. Chris Pratt on the other hand despite being the main character has the most cliche arc in the movie. Dramatic moments aren’t really his strong suit either as I rolled my eyes every time he got angry. The biggest highlight would have to be Michael Rooker as Yondu. A supporting character in the first movie, here he is a main character and has the biggest character arc.
The newcomers do well enough. Kurt Russell is well as Ego. The CG technology that Disney has been using to make actors look younger is nailed perfectly in this movie as Kurt Russell looks just like he did during this time. Ego as Peter’s dad always has an air of mystery around him and when the shoe finally drops about his character, it falls into cliche territory. Pom Klementieff as Mantis was my favorite of the newcomers with her empathetic abilities and naivety. She plays well off of Drax and plus it is nice to have someone who isn’t a killer on the team. Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha is not in the movie that much but you do get her character and her presence will continue to threaten the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Overall, the movie does succeed in what it set out to do. I cannot fault a filmmaker for making the film that they want to make. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has James Gunn’s stamp all over the movie. So on that level it succeeds. But when it comes to the humor and some of the character arcs, it does not succeed. This movie still does fall into some of the usual complaints that befall MCU movies such as the issue with the villains but a bit less so. Otherwise it’s another solid entry into the film franchise. James Gunn continues to expand the cosmic side of the Marvel and the future looks bright.