This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Faster, funnier, and with the same amount of heart, Vol. 2 stands out as one of the MCU's best, and makes the idea of the MCU's first perfect trilogy all the more alluring.
August 2014. Marvel releases Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of the summer months because, let's face it, they weren't too sure about it. Sure it was going to do well because it had the Marvel name on it, but no one knew these characters at all. Who wanted to see a human, two painted aliens, a raccoon, and a tree save the world? Turns out a lot of people. The film went on to gross $770 million and was one of Marvel's most popular films. Needless to say, I too was a fan. I loved the unique characters, the use of vibrant colors, the comedic moments, and the genuine heartfelt moments. So I was excited to see this one. And it did not disappoint.
Would I say that I was overly impressed and blown out of the water by this movie? Not necessarily. In some aspects, the films plays it somewhat safe and gives you more of what you loved in the first film. But I wouldn't call that a bad thing. And the parts that the film does not play safe are done very well. If I had to put it a certain way, I would say that this film feels like the exact sequel I, and probably many other fans, wanted. It takes every plot point in the first film and builds upon it, for each and every character. It takes the comedic elements from the first film, and makes them funnier. It feels like there's a little bit less action, but it trades those up for personal scenes between the old and new characters. Basically, it feels like the first film never ended. These two films could be stitched together, and they would flow so well. Gunn took everything that worked in the first film and built upon it. It also helps that this is very much a standalone movie. Aside from a few mentions of Thanos (which doesn't really count because it's Gamora and Nebula talking about him) and a few mentions of the first film's events, there are no crossover elements in this film. No Infinity Stones, no Avengers references, none of that shit. This isn't a Marvel movie; it's a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
The plot of the movie goes like this: The Guardians are hired by the Sovereign to help protect valuable items from an alien threat. But after Rocket steals the valuable items, the Sovereign attacks the Guardians, who are forced to hide away on a planet. When they are there, they are met by Ego (Kurt Russell), who reveals himself to be Peter Quill's father. He takes the Guardians to his home planet, where he reveals more about Peter's heritage and the secrets of Ego's past. As the Guardians discover more, they are followed in close pursuit by Yondu, Nebula, and the Sovereign.
Kurt Russell is a welcome treat in this film. He's still such a likable actor with a ton of star power left in him. He's not that old, but I hope he gets a chance to do some more great films like this instead of just being a side character in the Fast and Furious movies. The Guardians cast is great once again, with each character's backstory being explored more in-depth. Gunn does a great job of giving every character equal time in the story and you feel a real connection with each one of them. Pratt, Zaldana, Cooper, and Diesel are great, but Dave Bautista steal the show in my opinion. He's the comedic relief of the film, and I swear every funny line he had made me laugh. Maybe his character archetype is just one of the great untapped archetypes, but I think it's just Bautista's amazing delivery, timing, and dryness. He's just fantastic in this. Yondu also has a lot of time devoted to him, and the relationship between him and Quill is further developed. Newcomer Pom Klementieff is alright, but I didn't find her exceptional or anything. Why is Sylvester Stallone in this for 3 minutes though?
How about the music? Awesome Mix Vol. 2 fits perfectly, just like the first film. "Mr. Blue Sky" plays during the film's opening credits and, much like the first film, it's played over an action scene going on. "Bring It On Home to Me" serves as this films "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" and it works well. "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" is deeply embedded in the plot of the film, and it serves as the connection between Ego and Quill's mother. "Come A Little Bit Closer" plays during one of the best scenes of the movie. I won't spoil it, but the visuals in that scene are great. "Southern Nights", "My Sweet Lord", and "The Chain" are also great additions.
I honestly don't have too many problems with the film. I would say one or two scenes drag just a little bit, and I don't think Stallone was necessary at all. I think that the plot was pretty deducible early on, but I didn't really care because it was played out so well.
Guardians is the best property Marvel has going right now. James Gunn is a very creative director who really seems to not only understand this type of comic book movie, but also these characters. He knows what they like, what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, etc. I don't know how much of these comics he read as a kid, but he seems to have a deep knowledge of them, from the main character Star-Lord to the laughably-named Taserface. I couldn't be happier when he announced that he was going to write and direct the third installment. I think everyone knew he was always going to, because I don't think anyone else could do these characters the justice that they've gotten. If you love the first Guardians movie, you're going to love this one. I had a great time with it, and I may even see it again in the theaters if my friends go. Marvel has the potential to have their first perfect trilogy, and they made the right choice getting Gunn back. I personally can't wait to see Vol. 3.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie, Marvel fan or not.