On paper, the first Guardians of the Galaxy shouldn’t have been the huge blockbuster smash it was. It’s based on a virtually unknown group of Marvel superheroes and one of the craziest cast of characters ever assembled. It’s hard to imagine that a film featuring a gun totting raccoon and a talking tree that can only say three words broke box office records all over the world. Yet, it was and it deserved to be because it was a fantastic film.
So, what can they do for an encore? How can Stat Lord and company even attempt to top the craziness and brilliance of their first outing? Well, they certainly tried with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And, while they didn’t reach the glorious heights the first film did, they certainly felt like they came really, really close to accomplishing this impossible task.
Well, that’s the long of the short of it. But there’s a little more to it than that. If you want to know a bit more to why I say this but are afraid I’ll reveal too much, don’t worry. This review will be a SPOILER FREE review.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place some time after the events of the first film. The crew has gained some notoriety for saving the galaxy from Ronan the Accuser and are using their new found fame as a way to sell out their services as mercenaries and guns for hire. After their latest job, however, things get screwy and… stuff happens. You know, it’s actually really difficult to say anything more because the trailers haven’t really revealed a whole lot about the story and this is a SPOILER FREE review. So let’s just say that it’s up to the Guardians of the Galaxy to save the galaxy once again.
Now, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does a whole lot of stuff right and let’s go focus on those items first. I will say the dialogue is brilliantly written. The banter between all the characters just sounds right and matches their individual personalities. There’s a certain wit with all the lines and everyone’s delivery is just flawless. And I’m not just talking about the main Guardians here. I’m talking about everyone that has a speaking line. Everyone delivers their lines with such gusto and prominence that it’s hard to not be enthralled with what they’re saying.
The visuals are also really good. The special effects are great and that helps but, when I refer to the visuals, I’m actually referring to the general art style. Sure the space battles are great you never really notice that you are just watching a bunch of CGI on screen during these moments. But I love the designs of the locations as the sets and visuals totally match what you expect. The locales are just beautiful to look at and I was drawn in each and every time they visited a new location.
One of the biggest reasons why the first Guardians of the Galaxy was a critical and financial success was its humor and Vol.2 does try to double down on that and it pays off. I would actually say that Vol. 2 is much more a comedy than an action or sci-fi adventure film. Suffice to say, writer/director James Gunns manages to create a really funny movie with the second Guardians of the Galaxy film. I will say that some of it is because of the delivery of the lines so the next thing I will give props to is the general acting.
Everyone really played their parts flawlessly. Well, almost everyone, anyway. There are definitely some standouts. Chris Pratt’s Star Lord is still one of the funniest characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you just gotta love his carefree and sarcastic attitude. Michael Rooker’s Yondu is given a lot more than just being the tough Ravager group leader and is definitely the most improved character. He’s given more screentime here in Vol. 2 and it’s definitely warranted as you can really see Michael Rooker’s acting chops and his fantastic tough guy with a heart performance comes through clearly. Kurt Russell’s performance as Ego makes him fit with the cast. And, once again, Bradley Cooper’s vocal delivery as Rocket, everyone’s favorite smart aleck, heavily armed raccoon, is just perfect.
There are some performances that don’t really click all that well, though. The first one would be Karen Gillian’s Nebula. She does fine but the problem is that the script has her just being mean and angry all the time. As such, all she really gets to do is yell and sneer out her lines. It’s not bad but I do wish there was much more to the character than just wanting to hunt down her sister, Gamora. And, while he’s cute and all, Baby Groot’s debut performance isn’t quite everything I would’ve wanted. In fact, there are some moments where he came off as rather annoying. I will say that the performances weren’t bad but just not up to the calibre as the rest of the cast.
The biggest issue I have with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 actually revolves around the overall plot as it does feel a little jumbled, especially in the middle. There are a couple of story arcs to follow and, while they do merge by the end, it doesn’t really flow all together nicely. The film keeps on switching between these story arcs and, while they aren’t bad, it does feel like there is a lack of focus and you never really know what’s the point of it all until the final act.
The jumbled and unfocused story also creates another problem. While the main Guardians of the Galaxy cast of characters are given something to do and even their own backstory to tell, there are a couple that actually don’t get to do much. There are even a couple of elements that are just there that don’t fit in to the “main” story all that well. Oh, and, if you’re a Drax or, yes, Baby Groot fan, you may leave the cinema disappointed as they actually don’t do much throughout the 136-minute run time of the film.
I guess I also have to talk about the soundtrack, which was probably another reason why the first Guardians of the Galaxy was a great success. The tunes here in Vol. 2 are good, but not as iconic as like the ones from the first film. While I just had to get Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2 because I knew all of the songs, Vol. 2 had more songs that weren’t familiar to me at all. However, the songs that were selected do work well with the film for the most part. There’s actually a specific song in the film that a couple of characters talk about and how it applies to them. And the film does have the best emotional use of Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” ever.
Despite my issues with the messy story, I will say Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still a great movie. It isn’t the home run that the first one was but it delivered on a lot of the things that made the team’s first outing great. While I wouldn’t say that I really loved it, I have no qualms in saying that I really, really, really, really liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Oh, and I do have to say that, please stay throughout the entire credits as the film has an unprecedented number of five after credits scenes! Four of them are nonsense and just funny clips. However, the third does hint at where Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will go. If you don’t understand what they’re hinting at… well, go ask your extremely nerdy friend who knows a lot about the Infinity Stones.
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below!