Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★

I knew that there wasn't much likelihood of this equalling the first film, but I'm still stunned by how much worse this is than the original. At least I expected a solid movie and a fun time, but GotG vol.2 is one of the most generic films in the MCU so far (which is saying a lot). I know I shouldn’t compare it to the original too much but I really can’t help it: where the first one was extremely energized, had genuine urgency and great character development, this one falls into almost every generic big-budget movie trap possible. It’s absolutely stunning to think that the same guy wrote and directed both films.

In terms of world-expansion, the first one was incredible. The galaxy felt truly inhabited, and it often seemed like an incredibly vibrant and wondrous place. This made the Guardians’ quest more obviously relateable: they were a bunch of outcasts fighting to save this beautiful and vibrant universe from a seemingly unstoppable villain. Who doesn't love that? In Volume 2, the only world-expansion in the entire film worth its salts is within the first ten minutes with the shiny dudes (can't remember their names). However, that is literally the ONLY WORLD-EXPANDING IN THE ENTIRE FILM, AND YOU DON'T EVEN LIKE THE SHINY DUDES BECAUSE THEY ARE DICKHEADS AND WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO SAVE THEM?! CERTAINLY NOT THE GUARDIANS AS ROCKET MAKES KILLING THEM A PUNCHLINE IN THE FIRST FIFTEEN MINUTES! THEY’RE ONLY THERE TO SET UP FUTURE STUFF ANYWAY (won't go into spoilers)….So, Strike 1, the audience are never shown why they should care about the villain’s plan (which I won’t go into). Perfect example of all spectacle, no stakes.

The characters, as is common with sequels, are given development with varying levels of success. While there are good moments, I can’t say that a single character is handled perfectly; my admiration is sadly always conditional. Yondu is a revelation in this film (but he’s stupidly overpowered), Drax laughing all the time and always being comedic relief got old quick, Rocket had moments of good development (but most of that was to do with Yondu), Gamora and Nebula had a couple of really interesting scenes (but Karen Gillan’s American accent was pretty shaky and I didn’t buy her performance, and Gamora’s writing was even poorer than in the first film), Baby Groot was funny but had no purpose other than being cute and dumb and didn’t really serve the plot (what plot?) in any substantial way, and Star Lord…………was really really weird. Oh, and Mantis was there I guess. Idk why they chose her over Cosmo or Adam Warlock but okay. Strike 2: the characters are poorly managed.

Then there’s the plot-twist………….dear fucking God. There are two types of plot-twists: those that allude to the twist very subtly before it happens and blow your mind, making you appreciate the narrative on another level……and those that give you no clues, completely reverse a lot of the prior information the audience is given (and I mean A LOT), exist solely to promote the illusion of clever writing (when it is the exact opposite) and turn what was simply a harmlessly mediocre film to a legitimately bad one. Sadly, this twist is in the latter category……..strike 3.

Also the villain’s plan SUCKS, even though there were good intentions behind it. Their plan was so lazily executed that it made me miss Ronan. Sure, he was generic but he was menacing, arrogant, defied bloody THANOS, and posed a scarily real threat to Xandar. Here, as I said before, the stakes are bigger but there are no stakes whatsoever because that whole subplot is so much of an afterthought. Genuinely sad, because there were some incredibly good lines spoken and ideas being played around with in this villain’s scenes, but Marvel’s “heroes first” policy bites them on the arse again. Strike 4.

All of this is such a shame because there are some truly fantastic moments. The film did a great job of adding more dimension to former villains. Yondu, as mentioned before, was absolutely the standout. His interactions with the team elevate the movie, and he has a fantastic arc continued from the first film. Nebula too, had some very interesting character development, and even though the scene where she talks to Gamora in the cave (being very, very vague to avoid spoilers) starts out as pretty laughable, it gets really interesting to hear her perspective on the relationship between herself and Gamora, with the shadow of Thanos still looming over both of their respective psyches. The visuals are also terrific (might be something to do with the change of camera to the RED Weapon 8K), and the 3D isn’t half bad (I only saw it in that format out of necessity, but it was executed pretty well and I wouldn’t not recommend it).

Overall, despite the frequent funny parts and the excellent flashes of character, this film struggled with completing arcs, plot convenience, pacing, comedic writing for some characters (they took all of the layers out of Drax just so that he could tell some jokes, fmllllll) and basically every usual problem with MCU films is present here in some form. With Volume 2, Guardians of the Galaxy went from being one of the most fun and irreverent modern blockbusters to simply becoming another property. Maybe I was unfair to compare it to the original, but I expected better than mediocrity for this franchise. It had so much potential.

4/10

P.S: CAN MARVEL FUCKING COOL IT WITH THE QUIPS? THE FIRST ONE KNEW WHEN TO BE SERIOUS AND WHEN TO BE FUNNY. THE WAY THAT MARVEL IS MAKING THEIR FILMS, ARE WE SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT ANY OF IT? OR DOES MARVEL WANT US TO FIND THE STRUGGLES OF THESE CHARACTERS LAUGHABLE? IF SO, THEY'RE SUCCEEDING. Sigggggggggghhhhhhhh......they should be better than this. At least the soundtrack was fantastic.

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