Ian Fastert’s review published on Letterboxd:
I missed color. I'm glad to see it back.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is different. Mostly when compared to other MCU movies, but then there's some stuff that is just weird and crazy and downright terrifying too.
The first movie was hailed for being different from the monotony of superhero movies (boy, if they knew what the scene looked like today), and it did that by...not being a superhero movie. The first Guardians of the Galaxy is very much more akin to Star Wars than any superhero movie, and that's what made it refreshing! Every generation needs their big space movie, and Guardians was that to a bit of a generation. Even if you didn't give a flying fuck about Thor, you could love it.
...by the way you can save your breath I'm not going to call this The Empire Strikes Back of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Now the first one's flaws lie in it's being a new universe. It's a movie where the exposition is...not implemented very well. At all. There's one scene where they're walking through a prison and Bradley Cooper is just listing off facts. It's rough. It's necessary, but it could be done better. The main thing people love about that movie though, is the character and characters. The character of the whole film, this space romp set to 70's songs, and the fun characters of the film, this tree guy, this wanna-be cool dude, a raccoon, a no-nonsense green lady, and super literal man. They're memorable and fun, even if the film around them isn't sometimes.
So now that you've set everything up, what should you do with a sequel?
Make it all about flushing those characters out?
So yeah, GOTG 2 isn't as much of a space romp as it is a daddy issues machine.
And sibling issues.
And child abuse issues.
And it still stars a talking tree.
Somehow it balances it all out.
First thing's first, this is the first MCU film (yes, even including the first one) that feels like it takes place in a world filled with COLOR! James Gunn takes the camera and goes fucking bonkers with it sometimes, creating these crazy ass visuals that can be weird and goofy or total nightmare fuel for small children. Along with that, the shots are actually really pretty most of the time, and it's not just the color that helps that. James Gunn seems to have grinded for filmmaking skills in between movies, because Jesus Christ has he improved since the fire one, and he did a great job the first time! I think this is him being able to relax more, where the first was a test of him being able to make a big budget film, while this one feels much more...him, much more like an indie film, much more like it's by the guy who made Super.
The emotions are strong too! Like, not Super strong, because that movie has one of the biggest gut punches ever, but strong none the less. I'm just shocked at how dark some of the plot points in this movie are. I don't want to spoil anything but there are things said that you would not expect to said in a Marvel movie, I'll tell you that much.
Which brings me to my next point; lots of swearing! On one side, that felt right for the characters, but on the other side there was a 12 yer old girl next to me and at one point they talk about penises and I was a little uncomfortable. But hey you know what? If that can be said in a film aimed at children (though this one will be more appreciated by adults), I can't wait for a superhero movie to talk about vaginas.
I feel like we need to talk about vaginas more. We have a weird phobia of the word. But penises, penises are fun and floppy and whatever.
It's weird. This is also probably not the place to talk about that, but I'm just putting that out there. I agree with Juliane Moore on this one.
Anyway! It's also a really funny movie, which is not surprising at all, but that it manages to do that while, once again, HAVING CHILD ABUSE SUBPLOTS, is kind of amazing! I mean, Dave Bautista's smile alone makes me smile, but his line delivery is on point! And Bradley Cooper, who can get annoying sometimes (something that the film capitalizes on by making everyone kinda pissed at his character most of the time), still can get a good laugh outta me. Add that into Chris Pratt's Chris Prattiness (nice to see him in a good movie again) and newcomer Pom Klementieff playing Mantis as a wide eyed clueless emotion reader and you have yourself some comedy gold! Sean Gunn even gets more screen time, and that guy is hilarious!
Now, there are some problems. A lot of the movie is spent on this planet that looks kind fake most of the time, but it also gave me Attack of the Clones flashbacks in some scenes, which is..not good. Also, Sylvester Stallone is totally wasted, as well as Ving Rhames. Hopefully they get more time in another movie. Now Kurt Russell on the other hand, he kicks ASS.
And some of the green screen is just lazy come the fuck on
In the end though, what sells it is the bonds formed between the characters and the pent up emotions let out, which I would never spoil. It teaches good, solid lessons about parenting and family, and that's what's gonna keep it with kids as they grow up. It's that movie with the small tree child that reminded me about how lucky I am to grow up the way I did.
I'm gonna rewatch this and regret this score right? Like this seems too high for a fucking MCU movie.
That's for me to figure out a different time. Right now, right here, I love this movie.
That makes me happy.
Plus it actually has a really good villain for once holy shit