Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

“He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.”

For some reason, I was never that big of a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 when I first watched it. But, upon watching it more and more, I can confidently say it’s one of the MCU’s best. It’s a very fun, action-packed but messier sequel, that’s surprisingly better than its predecessor. 

The returning cast all give absolutely fantastic performances as do the newcomers. They all nail their respective characters perfectly. Chris Pratt is once again amazing as Star-Lord. He’s able to show much more emotion and depth in his performance this time around due to Quill’s absolutely amazing writing. I love everything they do with his character especially learning about how Ego put the tumour in his mother’s head and realising that the father he’s always been searching for was right in front of him the whole time in the form of Yondu. Zoe Saldana is great as Gamora. She remains the deadliest woman in the galaxy vibe, but shows a softer, more emotional side to her character which benefits her. Her romance with Quill continued to blossom and is really great to watch. Bradley Cooper, much like Pratt and Saldana, is able to show off a more emotional side to Rocket as we learn more about him as a character. You truly feel for him due to his background and it’s really entertaining to watch his dynamic with the rest of the team. Baby Groot is absolutely adorable here. Following on from Groot’s heroic sacrifice in GOTG Vol 1, here we’re presented with Baby Groot and it’s honestly very cute and great. Karen Gillian reprises her role as Nebula and it’s great to see the character return as she could’ve easily being a one and done role. She makes the character much more interesting here, seeing her devotion to proving she’s Gamora’s equal. The sisters have a complicated history together due to their shared trauma at the hands of Thanos, and we begin to see what's driving each of them in their endeavours. Dave Bautista’s Drax is very annoying here. In the first film, he was tolerable, but here he’s too comedic and most of his jokes don’t land. I’m not a fan of how they develop his character as after GOTG 1 he doesn’t do much at all. Similarly, Mantis is just as annoying. She’s not a character I’m interested in nor do I think she’s a great inclusion here. Pom Klementieff does well in the role, it’s just I don’t like the character. Michael Rooker’s Yondu is such a great character. He’s much more prominent in this film and I love seeing him develop. It’s great delving into how he aided Ego led to him being disgraced amongst his friends and his surrogate father relationship with Quill is heartwarming. Oh and his sacrifice at the end is devastating. Easily one of the MCU’s best deaths and both Rooker and Pratt act their asses off. Kurt Russell is phenomenal as Ego. Having him be Quill’s father is an odd change, but it works nevertheless. Him pretending to be a good guy, but then being the villain, is a little predictable, but the film attempts to make you not want it to happen. His motives are a little weak, but overall Ego is a fantastic character. The rest of the supporting cast in Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, etc are all very great and fun to see. 

James Gunn’s direction is once again electrifying to view. His style is very vibrant and fitting for this team which is absolutely brilliant. This film helped cement him as one of the most unique and creative CBM directors with his fantastically crafted, emotional and thrilling sequel to an already incredible first instalment. The screenplay is also just as perfect. We get to explore these characters in more depth, seeing what really makes them unique amongst a vast number of characters in an already wide universe. We see the Guardians go from a team to truly being a family and that’s what makes this film truly work. It does attempt to juggle many storylines here, but Gunn mostly succeeds here. Each story gets a good portion of screen time which certain ones such as the Quill / Ego story taking preference. One thing that's interesting about Vol. 2 is that unlike most superhero movies, the heroes don't make it out completely unscathed, and it actually ends on a bit of a somber note. Sure, everybody comes out stronger and more hopeful, but they've suffered a big loss, and it's something that may exact a big toll on Quill going forward. It's a refreshing change of pace from the formula that's been established for the superhero genre, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of it in other superhero flicks. The humour is very good. Almost every joke lands, aside from Drax. He’s honestly what holds back the comedy because I just don’t find him funny. Maybe it’s Bautista’s performance or maybe it’s the writing? Either way I’m not a fan. The film’s action is glorious. They really go all out here and I’m definitely in. It’s all so fun and engaging to watch. Each character gets their chance to shine and I love how ridiculous it is. I mean a giant pac-man is so amazing. 

The visuals of this film exceed those of the first film, and once again they’re absolutely breathtaking. This film is much more vibrant, bursting with colour and gorgeous cinematography. The VFX holds up great, with Rocket and Baby Groot still looking incredible. One thing about the Guardians films is the amazing CGI. Each location and character never feels lacklustre; they all convey so much emotion that you are immersed in the film. The cinematography also remains superb. So many interesting shots such as the shot where you see Rocket behind a blaster shot. Stuff like that makes the film that little bit more amazing. The score for this film is another golden aspect. It’s very heroic and stands itself apart. But, like GOTG 1, the soundtrack is the main standout for these films. While I prefer Vol 1’s soundtrack, Gunn manages to make Vol 2’s soundtrack fit the tone more perfectly. Having ‘Father and Son’ play during Yondu’s funeral is such a fitting song choice for such a beautiful scene. I very much adore the music for these films. 

I do have issues with this film however. Like mentioned before, the film attempts to juggle multiple subplots and while it does mostly succeed, there are some plots that don’t fully work. One of those plots is the Sovereign plot line. It feels very rushed and while they are there to force the Guardians on the run and set up a key plot device in the third act, they don’t really do much and are wasted. Ayesha is very bland which doesn’t help. Ego, while being a great villain for the team, does have pretty generic motivations in the form of wanting to take over the galaxy. I think that’s a flaw most of Gunn’s projects have. He excels on the protagonists and their journeys, but the antagonist often don’t reach those highs. It’s the personal connections between the team members that really make his projects standout. Aside from that, the film is absolutely amazing!

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a fantastic sequel to one of the most unique MCU films. It’s flawed for sure, but it’s filled with so much heart that you can’t help but be invested. It feels so similar, yet so different to its predecessor that it manages to hold its own and be another brilliant entry into this amazing universe.

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