Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been unleashed upon the world. The follow up to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 builds on what its predecessor started, taking the crew in new and different directions. Does James Gunn’s sequel stand up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or will it be relegated to the periphery? Fire up your copy of the Awesome Mix (Vol. 1 or 2, I’m not picky) and keep reading to see what one movie-goer thought.
As always, I’m staying away from spoilers, though anything that you may have seen in the movie’s available trailers is fair game. I won’t talk a whole lot about plot anyway, just a few basics to start things off. We’ve already been introduced to the Guardians, so Vol. 2 jumps right into the action. Having previously saved the galaxy, the team is in demand, and working for a powerful alien race known as the Sovereign. In typical fashion, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) manages to enrage their employers, who vow vengeance. During their escape, the team runs into Ego (Kurt Russell), who introduces himself as Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.
With introductions out of the way in the first movie, Vol. 2 is able to start to really develop the main team. We obviously learn quite a bit about Peter (since he’s meeting his dad and everything). We also get to dive a bit into the psyche of Rocket. He and Yondu (Michael Rooker) get to build some camaraderie, and we see a bit of a different side of everyone’s favorite (non) raccoon. The very strained relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) gets plenty of attention here as well, and we get to learn more about why Nebula is generally so angry (though she could really stand to tone it down just a few notches, there’s angry, and then there’s maybe a bit of over-acting).
Drax (Dave Bautista) and Baby Groot (still voiced by Vin Diesel) were mostly along for the ride to act as the comedic sidekick and adorable animal (or in this case, plant) friend that Disney films are full of, respectively. Drax still takes pretty much everything quite literally, often with hilarious results, though he’s also left free to make his own jokes, some of which still have me laughing. Baby Groot is clearly meant to be a focus of this movie, and by and large he is. His character development (insofar as “I am Groot” can sufficiently word that development) is meant to be cute and sympathetic. There were more than a few “Awww’s” throughout the audience when Baby Groot was on screen.
Newcomers including Ego and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) were effective. Ego does what he can to fill his fatherly role, while Mantis is a bit of a kindred spirit to Drax, as they are both somewhat socially awkward. The cast is rounded out with a few surprise cameos, and throwbacks/references that only some of the most ardent comic readers will pick up (full disclosure, I didn’t, one of my comic-reading friends explained some things afterwards).
I’ve seen some complain that there were just too many jokes, and they should have played it a bit more seriously. I really don’t see why you’d have that complaint with this type of movie. Guardians is going to be the kind of goofy, silly entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there are jokes and moments of levity in most of the other Marvel films, but that’s really what Guardians of the Galaxy is built on.
Visuals here are very colorful and have a very neon, cartoon-ish look to them, though that does fit with what Marvel has been doing with their cinematic universe and most non-Earth planets (just look at the Thor: Ragnarok trailer if you don’t believe me, they’re staying pretty consistent with this aesthetic). There’s obviously a whole lot of CGI going on, though there really weren’t too many places where things felt just too outside of what has already been established as their setting. If you want a more muted palette, you’re not going to find it here.
Action in the movie is appropriate, and comically over the top in most cases. For an action movie though, they really didn’t over-do it on the action. It does feel like this is more of a character-driven movie than a typical superhero action movie. Music of course plays a huge role in the film as well. We see at the end of Guardians 1 that Peter gets a copy of Awesome Mix Vol. 2. That naturally serves as the soundtrack here, and future movie soundtracks are set up in a humorous way near the end of Guardians Vol. 2.
So where does that leave us overall? I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 thoroughly. I actually liked it more than the first film, though I understand not everybody will feel that way. The story was effective, the action and visuals were good, and the character development really helped flesh out these characters. The story does sit on its own, though there are some hints about things to come from this group in the future. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but you will be seeing these characters again pretty soon.
If you’re on the fence, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun movie that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. You won’t have to think too hard about anything here, and can just sit back, relax, and enjoy.