Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 Review

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The MCU continues to expand into the stars as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 hit cinemas a month or two ago, and I saw it! … a week or two ago, because I don’t like crowded cinemas… and have very little money. Anyway! After the unexpected quality and success of the first film, can they capture lightning in a bottle twice? No, but that can at least continue being very funny and entertaining!

Official Synopsis:

Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Once again the film has stunning backgrounds and planet designs…

Peter Quill / Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) – The cocky leader of the Guardians, who despite attaining fame for his role in saving the Galaxy in the previous film, still manages to land himself in trouble… though more often than not it’s another member of the team that does it…

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) – Formally trained by Thanos himself, Gamora is now a proud member of the Guardians, and clearly has a thing for Peter, not that she would admit it. She also wants to finally settle things with her sister Nebula…

Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista) – Previously focused his rage and want for revenge at the man who took his wife and child away from him, Drax is now more laidback and fun-loving, though he obviously still missing his lost family, and did mention once or twice about wanting to kill Thanos, but is seemingly willing to wait now…

Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) – Genetically modified raccoon who is far more used to working as a bounty hunter and mercenary than as a member of a do-good team. His act of stealing leads the crew down a troubled path, but it’s a path that eventually leads Rocket to a revelation…

Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) – After Groot’s death in the last film, he (or his off-spring, not sure how it works, obviously…) is now grown to the point of being small and innocent, though stupid…

Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) – Yondu and his Ravagers are on the trail of some top bounties after Yondu’s past catches up to him and he gets a reminder of how he became, for all intensive purposes, Peter Quill’s father. This leads to a confrontation with Quill’s actual father…

Nebula (Karen Gillan) – Daughter of Thanos, Nebula is nearly entirely cybernetic due to the fact that every time she lost to her sister Gamora, she had something replaced by the request of her father. She has intense hatred to her sister, though somewhere deep down she may hate her father more than her sister…

Ego (Kurt Russell) – A Celestial in which an entire planet formed around it. Using a human-like version of himself, he met Peter Quill’s mother on Earth and the two had a child. Sadly for Peter, despite Ego’s saying to the contrary, he has an ulterior motive… there is a reason he’s called Ego…

Mantis (Pom Klementieff) – Empathic alien who soon joins up with the crew when they visit Ego. Mantis has always lived alone with Ego, so her having to interact with the Guardians is a new experience for her, and one she hopes to experience more of.

And many more!

The Good:

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To think that Ego the Living Planet would not only make it to live action film, but be played by Kurt Russell! Weird times indeed…

First things first, the movie is very funny. At the start the jokey interaction perhaps goes on too long and it starts to be a little bit annoying, but plenty of the jokes in the middle and end of the film hit home, including one gag involving Peter and his father actually making me laugh out loud, which is a rare thing (I’m more of a smirk or sharp-exhale-out-of-the-nose kind of person…) Performances all round are still on point and the actual effects and planet designs and colours are all still top notch. It’s still a visual treat, as the old phrase goes.

I was happy that Ego still turned out to be bad. I liked his comic counterpart (and TV cartoon counterpart! I remember his Fantastic 4 appearance from the 90s…) and it would have been a shame to see him rewritten as just a kind fatherly figure. The last third of the film, which sees everyone battling either Ego or the invading Sovereign people (more on them later…) is an exciting sequence, and Peter’s weird super-powered showdown with his father was almost so out of place it didn’t work, but the movie was just enough of a mix of silly and serious that it didn’t feel too weird.

The highlight character of the film was probably Yondu, funnily enough. He was a pretty straight forward bounty hunter type in the first film, but here his reasons for not taking Peter to Ego are that he didn’t want the kid to suffer the same fate he saw countless others had (being used up and discarded as failures) and looked after him instead. He sacrifices himself to save Peter’s life at the end, and although it gets him not only the respect of the Guardians, but his old Ravager buddies (Sylvester Stallone included!) gave him a proper send-off. It was a very emotion finale, and I certainly never expected that from Guardians 2, after the silly ending from the first film. Great work to all involved.

Having Stan Lee being related in some way to The Watchers was great fun. Not only seeing The Watchers pretty much unaltered from the comics, but confirming the long-standing fan theory that Lee was playing the same character in all his film cameos and was a Watch himself (which seems to be not quite the case, but close enough!)

The Bad:

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Awww… ain’t he cute… BUT HE’S WRONG!

The Sovereign people and their High Priestess was a rather dull addition. They served their purpose at the start for being straight-laced foils for the more silly Guardian antics, and giving the chase in arcade machines lead to a few laughs (particularly the other Sovereigns gathering around the last “player”, as it were, and then telling him he sucked when he lost). I just didn’t need them back at the end of the film, nor did I need them to be heavily involved in the creation of Adam Warlock, as the post credit tease seems to suggest. They’re just not that interesting.

Drax was reduced to pretty much just a gag character. His more stern nature from the first film contrasting when he accidentally made a joke was the funny thing about him, Drax constantly belly laughing and almost intentionally shouting some of his not-understanding-things jokes was a bit much. Likewise, Baby Groot had one or two funny scenes (his going back and forth to find Yondu’s new head fin but bringing back all manor of objects, and someone’s toe, was funny) but was featured too much and his gags were often… not funny. In my opinion, of course.

Overall Thoughts:

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Never before has mass killing been played up as such fun…

So another strong entry into the MCU, though not the surprise runaway hit the first one was. Realistically though, it was never going to be (a lot of what made the first great was getting know the characters and generally how out of nowhere the film in general came from), what was more likely is that this film wouldn’t live up to the first one, and I’m happy to say that it does. It still has its wacky off-beat humour, but this time the last third came with an emotional punch for several characters, and made you like them all a lot more as they grow closer.

4 Star Watch

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