Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★

I know what you're thinking. "But didn't you recently finish your Master's Degree? That would mean that you should only watch art films and documentaries, not Marvel films. You should only commit yourself to high-brow art." My response to that: NO! I am still capable of loving comic book films as much as I love high brow stuff (but I admit I need to watch more documentaries), so why not let me? The two are not mutually exclusive! Especially since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not just a great sequel, it also works well as a standalone film.

The reason why I love the original Guardians of the Galaxy is that it was the one project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aka "The Death of Cinema" according to some elitist assholes) where they just gave in to the madness a comic book can elicit. But it also managed to reel me in thanks to its well-written and well-performed characters, as well as its great atmosphere, caused by visuals that weren't too affected by the washed-out colorgrading of the rest of the MCU, and also that soundtrack that had all the right songs for an action sci-fi romp with a tinge of 70s and 80s nostalgia (the greatest human weakness outside of the neck, according to aforementioned elitists and Dwight Schrute).

While the first film showed enough of the characters to make us love them, despite of some of their less noble traits, the sequel dives further into what makes the characters tick, and yet it still manages to give us a new character, Pom Klementieff's Mantis, who fits like a glove into the group dynamic of the misfits that make up the Guardians with her social awkwardness. Michael Rooker as Yondu is thankfully given more to do, outside of being a space redneck with a magic arrow, as he becomes more respectable; Dave Bautista as Drax becomes the funniest man in space with his blunt delivery; Karen Gillan showed me once again why she is a great actress (not just my Whovian bias here), as Nebula became simultaneously terrifying and entertaining; and Bradley Cooper starts to show glimpses of Sterling Archer in his performance (H. Jon Benjamin was actually considered for Rocket), which was awesome (and close to the DANGER ZONE!). Outside of the Guardians, we now have a far better villain than Ronan the Accuser (especially since his plan boils down to (SPOILER!!!) interstellar masturbation), and the humor is not just restricted to the dialogue, as the visual gags in this are definitely on point. The film also has the best Stan Lee cameo so far, and one I won't spoil here.

My gripes with this lies mostly with Peter Quill and Gamora, whose arcs in this don't allow the actors much to do outside of being somewhat mopey, and it shows in the performances of both Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, who come off a bit too bland at times. The soundtrack wasn't as memorable this time around, not that it was bad, but it wasn't as prominent as the original's soundtrack was. The cameos, while enjoyable, felt a bit unnecessary, and were only enjoyable if you knew what the characters were a reference to. Furthermore, the film had a tendency to spell out its plot points a bit too much at times, and certain jokes were dragged out for longer than necessary. Finally, could the characters please stop rambling on about family? This is Guardians of the Galaxy, not The Fast and the Furious, so stop being so heavy-handed about this!

In conclusion, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was very enjoyable, and outside of my gripes about it, I recommend it if you were a fan of the first one.

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