Review! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2016) Directed by James Gunn. Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista. IMDB says “Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.”
I doubt it will come as surprise to anyone to hear that I’m a massive fan of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s easily my favorite Marvel film, I’ve made mention before that it’s one of the only films I know that made me want to buy merch and FTS just included it in the podcast episode discussing “New Classics”. Something about the lovable characters and kick ass soundtrack makes me wish I was kid again. But that was the first film in the series, so what’s the deal with Volume 2?
At the end of the previous film, we left our heroes (Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket) after they had saved the galaxy from destruction. We pick up here a short time after while the crew is delivering some valuable batteries to Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of sketchy Sovereign people, in exchange for one of the baddies from the previous film – Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). Nothing too complicated here but clearly, it helps to know who all of these characters are before jumping in. The group transports Nebula but comes under conflict thanks to a less than honest previous business transaction. The group is forced to split up and they encounter their own set of problems while they are away. This separation is initially as hard on the group as it is for the audience. You simultaneously realize how much you care for these characters and how nervous you are for their survival as a group. This yearning for cohesion plays as the most important theme in this second film. The first film was an origin story of their formation but here they must accept their fate together. While still similar to the “we must work as a team” plot line, Vol 2 feels like a natural development for the characters and not a shoehorned excuse for the events of the movie to take place.
One of the things that Vol 2 does particularly well is provide each character with a solid amount of screen time and emotional growth. While Peter had some of the bigger moments in the first film and yes, continues to be the center point of this film’s main story line, he takes a back seat to some of the other characters in this film. Rocket has a few touching moments, Gamora gets engaged in an important subplot independent from the rest of the group and Drax doles out more funny quips than Peter gets in. The audience gets to spend a good amount to time with everyone and it never feels like you’re missing out. In fact, the movie clocks in around 2 hours and 20 minutes but it flew by. I wasn’t restless for a second. Director/Writer James Gunn did a fabulous job creating a fluid story that balanced humor and emotional moments very effectively. It’s hard to tell without a side by side comparison, but Vol 2 might be funnier than the first and is almost definitely more emotional.
Beyond the enjoyable moments coming from the characters on screen, the movie is a beautiful experience for all of your senses. A special shout out has to go to the special FX and production design department for crafting such a stellar world. The cinematography is lovely, the music is great once again and the visual effects were downright magical. The opening sequence of the film blends all three to help set the tone for the rest of the movie and it was seriously such a treat to watch. The use of color and light turned this sequel into a very special viewing experience.
But back to our original concern – what’s the deal with Volume 2? Well, it’s the real deal. This sequel shouldn’t disappoint fans of the original and might even compare as the better of the two. It’s difficult to say exactly where I stand on the matter but I wouldn’t mind watching both films again and again to find out.
OVERALL SCORE: 90%