Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

It's no surprise that I genuinely love Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This film has everything, it's even surprisingly bonkers than the first Guardians film, even more visually striking than its predecessor. Filmmaker James Gunn did what he had to do to give this sequel more depth than glittery colors and wacky set of colorful characters, all what Gunn had to was to make a film about characters. When I saw glimpses or trailers of this film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had to be something of a great sequel, but it all felt vaguely familiar in terms of yet another film. Obviously, James Gunn had other better intentions for this new take on the Guardians but hear me out, Guardians 2 was one of the best Marvel films I've seen in quite a while. Except, nothing about it is game changing or will change the world but I know for sure that the film's representation of "family" and these unique characters is sure to leave people smiling.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy had a fairly intriguing comedic romp to it that it almost became irresistible. The first film introduced all the Guardians we know and love as of today, merchandising exploded like hell, Groot became the number 1 toy product in the world actually. The film was a commercially successful Marvel flick that instead of using the same exact formula every once in a while, why not try something different said James Gunn. In the first film, I laughed, I cried, I felt one thing after another, all the different planets having weird names and all these colorful weird characters just surprised me here and there. But this sequel is more grandiose, even weirder and perhaps funnier than its predecessor. And the marketing for this film was fantastic. All of the trailers and how it was marketed kept all the surprising things away so "more the excitement, more the mystery comes before it!" you could tell Gunn wanted to surprise people. Surprise people in a way where this sequel tried something else but rather felt all too familiar and close to the first. Don't get me wrong this film is great for what it is, it introduces new characters, has new villains, it's nothing but a space opera than anything else. Guardians 2 is just absolutely fantastic.

As it was, James Gunn wanted to make this sequel more personal and explore darker themes. I had no issue with this film bringing in darker themes at all, in fact, it enhanced the film throughout. Still, the sly but comical humor is still there intertwined between the darker themes it tries to subdue. Most importantly, Guardians 2 develops all of these recurring Guardians to give them more personal depth and length to their arcs than anything else that remotely connects to the story. You have Star Lord's relationship with the intergalactic space god father he never knew he had; you have Gamora's struggle to understand her tin relationship between her aggressive sister Nebula. You have all these characters who didn't have the time or length to give themselves arcs or anything else. Besides the explosive CGI and colorful images, this film means something else than just colorful imagery, beautiful visuals, wild creatures, weird characters. It means something else to that then it should.

The opening sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 repeats the same opening tactic as in the original. It's set in 1977 even before Peter Quill was born, at the time of the 70's everything seemed peaceful and beautiful, you see Ego with Peter Quill's mother, as they sneak into the forest to find Ego's plant remained in place. This opening scene does introduce Ego a little bit, we could tell he's a spaceman then a David Hasselhoff lookalike. Then the camera zooms into the planet before we transition into the Guardians fighting what supposedly looks like a big intergalactic space monster or blob of some sorts that is there to steal the gold people's batteries. This scene isn't there to distract us, but we finally get to see our main heroes fight a space monster. Isn't the kind of thing you see often in science fiction films; sure, the monster is just a metaphor for how imagination is dying in cinema but nevertheless it is just insane. Drax kills the monster in the most hilarious way possible before we get to meet the gold people alongside Ayesha played by the stunning Elizabeth Dubicki.

As the gold people thanks them for a job well done in getting rid of that space blob, Rocket Racoon takes it to the extreme and hurts the gold people's feelings in the most genuinely funny way possible. The scene in general indeed made me laugh but taking a shot every time Drax's comical laugh happens was especially the delightful experience in modern comedy. With Rocket stealing the gold batteries and the gold people filled with rage and disappointment, the gold people tend to go after the Guardians because the gold people here are all equal in quality and are wealthy in their own advanced civilization, but the gold people seem to not have any genuine feelings or emotions, or they cannot be reasoned with.

But no, Rocket hurts their feelings and frantically go after them since they couldn't tolerate anything what Rocket said behind their backs. It was the funniest form of revenge I've seen from this. The gold people take on the Guardians so much that it sparks a conflict between Peter and Rocket and crash their ship on a mysterious planet. From there the now confused Peter Quill meets his father, Ego. Actually, the trailer, in my opinion spoiled Ego's appearance. If the trailer erased him and we get to see Peter finally meet his father than it would've been surprising or unexpected or tearjerking. Ego is played by Kurt Russell, and he has all the charisma and time of this film to fully develop his character and while having the most screen time so as the other characters, Ego is both peaceful but has a reason to create his own planet despite Ego is a planet of himself. It's nice to see James Gunn commit to something we cannot comprehend, there are parts you can't even take seriously but you have to because it's a science fiction comedy. Ego wants to be peaceful with his planet not to destroy its entirety.

I want to fully express Peter Quill's arc and Gamora's arc as well so I can get a better understanding of why their character arcs were just well-directed and written as if the sequel is more personal than you think. The first film never explored any dark themes, but it went as far as to express them. When you have your character dealing with some form of conflict, it should be created as an obstacle or at least delt in some fashion where the protagonist tries to stand in their way to sank it in. The first film introduced Drax's violent revenge on Ronan because he murdered his wife and daughter and now wants Ronan dead for it. But Drax learns that vengeance or violence can't be defeated without a team. The first film though developed these characters first then just to express them. In this sequel, it seems so personal and in much more depth than usual. Most Marvel films show darker themes and capture character conflicts that make us become more invested in them. That's why I love this film, sure, the film has wit, and it is genuinely funny, but a film can really change your perspective about what it really is about than what it puts in the background.

Peter Quill's relationship with his father- So, later in the film when Ego gets introduced, Ego takes one of the few Guardians to his planet of himself, he explains he had sex with various different species across the universe so that explains how he created himself as a planet. But Ego already develops himself more when he gets to connect with his son Peter Quill, the father/son relationship Peter Quill and Ego have is something touching but expansive. The two do things that father, and son do like throw softballs at each other, bond and share some deep but personal stuff. Chris Pratt and Kurt Russell have great chemistry as a matter of fact, both play off each other pretty well. You never feel like you're lost with what their bond is or what kind of trust Russell wants to have with Peter. But Peter's entire life from seeing his mother die is what keeps his character motivated to keep going, he was kidnapped by Yondou and was trained to become a space bounty hunter. For Quill as a kid to go and have that internal struggle in his early childhood was something he can't keep inside. Peter still griefs over the fact he lost his mother and was explored briefly in the first film's climax so as in this film.

Peter lived his life not knowing he had a biological father, that's why Ego's introduction was something special for him. You could tell Peter wanted nothing more than a simple but peaceful relationship with his father than anything else. So, when Ego is introduced into his life, he knows his life is fulfilled. Peter finally has a father of his own, he finally finds meaning in life away from all the mental struggles he went as a kid. Peter's relationship with his father became so emotional and just meant a lot to Peter that it breaks the Guardian's relationship as well with Peter. Peter for the majority of the film spends too much time with an individual space father because from what I could tell, Peter made an inseparable family of his own with the Guardians.

Think about it, if Peter in the first film was going to find his father, the "family" thing he would have with the Guardians wouldn't exist. None of them would appear in other Marvel installments, the fact that this film is my Fast and Furious for utilizing the word "family" is all too real for me. People think Fast and Furious used the term "family" better in their films than Guardians of the Galaxy. The term "family" seems to be more meaningful since Peter created a family of his own with all of the Guardians. He couldn't lose that all to himself. The film questions all of the fathers out there. Sad thing is, I saw this with my father, and he did understand the sentimentality and emotional damage Peter goes into when connecting with his father. Ego not only symbolizes himself as a biological father figure, but he gives Peter life advice, morals, Ego also gives Peter some enjoyable moments.

My father as well gave me good memories when I was a child, he does teach me life morals, life lessons, I sometimes have my ups and downs with him, but I grew up to become his only son. This film seems to be relatable to me. But in the end, it's revealed Ego is the one that killed Peter's mother. It was something I didn't expect from someone as so peaceful and lovable as Ego. You seem to understand Ego's motive and dire connection towards Peter but after the fact Ego killed Peter's own mother, Peter switches to Yondu thinking he was the true father of his own even if Yondu and Peter don't share the same blood. Yondou felt like a father to Peter, that's why with Yondou's death felt impactful for what it was. Yondou raised Peter as a child, treated him with the care and spiritually that he could establish it. Peter didn't realize Yondou is Peter's father, and it was behind his back all along.

The way the film explores his relationship with his father was sad, but it had a story to tell. You seem to connect with their relationship since it is nothing more than an understandable character arc. Peter seems to trust Ego but when the truth is revealed, he realized Yondou was his one and only father. What Peter goes through is a little adventure of his own. An adventure through meaning or self-discovery questioning in who his real father is. Ego couldn't be Peter's best dad in the world to win a coffee mug of it but something about their relationship builds his and Ego's character altogether. You may not see this handled better in other films or another, but I love how it was approached and directed. Simple stuff.

Gamora and Nebula- Now, Gamora and Nebula's war between each other was personally my favorite character arc out of the bunch. Sure, Peter's sweet romp between his space father Ego was emotional for me and my father but Gamora is the best character in the entire film. Gamora as a character doesn't try hard to appear on the poster all that much, she isn't the strong female character symbol that all characters of women represent all too much, she doesn't try to be strong or be the "I'm better than men" stereotype that most films do annoyingly. It is no secret that Gamora is the best character here, she has a darker but more disturbing backstory, being constantly abused by his father Thanos especially her sister Nebula. Both Nebula and Gamora never got to connect as sisters because together they went up to each other to see who's the best. That toxic bond she had in surviving Thanos's strict parenting and abuse does give Gamora some depth and makes us relate to her in some way.

Nebula wants to constantly murder Gamora because she cannot fully express her love towards her. In one scene, Gamora is sitting quietly on Ego's planet before Nebula comes and tries to murder Gamora all in the name of combat. Nebula doesn't want to show Thanos if she is the best that she could be for her father but morally the pain they've really suffered throughout must have been stressful and painful. So much that both want to violently kill each other. Gamora and Nebula try and move away from the trauma they faced while growing up and love the way they want to be loved. Nebula just wanted a sister. She wanted to express love but is too afraid of rejection from Gamora. You see her as someone who wants to be loved than killed. Gamora may not have the same feelings towards Star Lord but with Nebula and Thano's abuse is much more severe.

I love Gamora as a character, you could tell she doesn't try to pose or become stronger than she already is but deep inside each character has their own personal trauma or conflict that they can't express to one another. In one scene Nebula expresses too explicitly that when she kills her sister, she would also kill Thanos and take him to pieces. It was something Marvel wouldn't allow since this is aimed at children, but you sometimes have to follow the darker stuff between characters or else it would be hard to connect with them both physically and too mentally. These themes of grief, trauma and reflection is something I want to see Marvel do than give us billion-dollar CGI entertainment. I do think giving these characters depth and meaning is meaningful and embracing.

This film is well-written enough to give you some meaning to it. There are other characters such as Taser face who was the most hilarious part of the film honestly. You see James Gunn at his most creative but genuinely expansive here. On the horizon, I think Rocket Racoon's arc was much more stretched out here, he has this cocky partnership with Star Lord that feels all the more unnecessary but since Peter/Rocket are the aftmost best friends that they could be, Rocket Racoon grows as a character here, learns from his mistakes and gives Peter another chance to conquer his trust and partnership. Rocket may be cocky and hilarious at times that's because Bradley Cooper contributes so much emotion and expression to his character that it's surprisingly comedic. He isn't the best to work with, but he does learn his mistakes and looks up to Peter.

As for Drax, he has nothing to do here but forms this bond between the strange Mantis who could feel people's emotions and secrets. That scene when Mantis revealed Peter's secret that he has feelings for the Gamora character, it was genuinely hilarious. Everyone laughed at my theater at the time, it's sad to see Drax not have nothing to do here but stand there for laughs. Still, whatever Drax says and does is hilarious. Visually this film is beautiful looking, has all these unique colors and the VFX never felt this genuinely intelligent. The action sequences are much more entertaining than the first, James Gunn sucks your brain in a wacky, weird, strange, colorful world that feels more relatable and beautiful than Star Wars. This did give me Empire Strikes Back vibes.

The use of CGI was more practical and did that give that sense of all realism than the golden standard. How the film is shot, edited and the framing and set pieces are energetic and the film keeps on going just like Empire Strikes Back. It's similar to Empire Strikes Back because in hindsight both films feature the father/son relationship that ends up in unexpected suspense, both films are set in space, both films introduce new characters and new environments that are mind-blowing. James Gunn knows what he's doing and with this wacky but personal sequel, you could tell he cared a lot about this sequel and how it is presented and represented. The message isn't clear, but I could say it's personal.

The humor this time was hilarious. Lots of the jokes, humor and funny scenes were insanely hilarious. It was the funniest films I've seen in a while, it's up there with "The Naked Gun", "The Cornetto Trilogy" and much more. I think this is even funnier than the first movie. It defines your expectations. More or less. James Gunn knew what you wanted and gave you something you could relate to and connect with simply by observing Peter and Ego's emotional relationship together. Gamora is nothing but a traumatized warrior that fights for herself the easiest way possible. Rocket learns to be more precise and mature about what he does. Groot becomes the hottest toy in America, Yondou was Quill father all along.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was all about the family merits and with all the amazing characters, unique setting, nice pacing, unique shots and the Marvel entertainment goodness is still there. Nothing about this film ever misses the point nor does it ever hit or run the formula. It is much different than the first film. James Gunn is such an excellent filmmaker that whatever he does, it comes into the close picture as it should be. This film looks colorful, beautiful, comprehensive and most of all the character arcs are stretched out in a way where I could really believe what was happening. Instead of getting lost, the film kept me invested in what was going on. Seeing where the Guardians go from here after the Holiday Special is something exciting. Nevertheless, this sequel is visually striking, uniquely paced, the character arcs are just developed in better tastes than the first.

In conclusion Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is nothing but lovable and an entertaining romp of mature and darker themes that can be better saved for the third entry in the franchise. Something about this sequel worked, from beginning to end, I never felt lost or confused as to what was happening. I related to Peter and Ego a lot and learned a lot from their interconnectable relationship together. Gamora's arc stunned me the most, Groot was absolutely adorable. Everything about this sequel tries harder, it is the usual Marvel brand but when you take a second to examine its true intentions and themes, it is something more than just a science fiction blockbuster. It is personal and thought provoking. It makes you question all these things, the things that affect or mean the most to you in real life. Overall Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is more vibrant, colorful, funny, energetic then it's predecessor. I recommend this film at every brace.

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