🎄joshhh 🎁’s review published on Letterboxd:
2017 has surprisingly been an amazing year so far, with films like Raw and Free Fire coming out that offer a unique experience with constantly engaging and creative choices made to what could be referred to as been-there-done-that stories. But what shocks me the most is the amount of satisfying comic book films that have been released. Logan was a gut wrenching tale of a man questioning his painful existence, who finds reason in a small girl who he relates and sympathizes with. And while The Lego Batman Movie certainly steps in the opposite direction in terms of tone and audience demographic, it was still a solid deconstruction of both its titular character, and the superhero genre as a whole. And to my happiness, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues this wave of genuinely great comic book films.
If there was one thing to count on, it was that James Gunn, a man who seems to have full creative control over his product, would bring the same energy and understanding to the characters that he did before. That’s part of why I was so amazed walking out of this movie, not only does it flesh out its characters in a meaningful and thoughtful way, but there’s considerable development when compared to the first film, a film I still enjoy to this day. In all honesty the two best archs of the movie are the characters of Ego and Drax. I won’t say much about Ego, as it’s better to go in knowing nothing about him, but his conflict here is perfectly executed. There are some downright brilliant moments between him and Starlord, but I think it’s all due to Russell’s performance. There’s one scene in particular (involving a song) that is so devious in its execution it made me chuckle.
But my favorite character in the film is easily Drax. In the first film, Drax is set up as a man who seeks revenge for the murder of his family in any way he can, as careless as it may seem. But the transition in this film to a more reflective character is so natural. The best scene of the film comes where Mantis sits down with Drax while he looks at the planet they’re on. He recounts a memory of his son, and Mantis (who is able to feel emotions) grabs onto Drax and immediately bursts into tears. What’s so beautiful here is the expression Drax has on his face, one of complete happiness and peace. He’s come to accept what happened, and while he’ll never forget the pain and violence he experienced, he chooses to remember those moments he’ll never have again in a positive light. It’s at this moment where it struck me how much this film cared about its characters and audience. The first thirty minutes are filled to the brim with terrible exposition, choppy editing, and jokes that don’t always hit. I wasn’t completely on board with it, but then around the part where they land at their destination for the rest of the movie, the film takes a breather. It’s more about relationships than it is action, and so when the final act comes it’s extremely satisfying both in a fun action way, but also in an extremely emotional way.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has issues, but it’s clear there was care put into the production of this movie, and as someone who has sat through this dredge of copy and paste MCU films, I’m so happy to say that this one is definitely the best one so far, made evermore so clear in its heartbreaking finale, and perfect last shot.
Mr. Gunn, you have my full attention for Volume 3. Don't disappoint me.