Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit of summer 2014, proving that Marvel could take seemingly obscure comic book characters and make them accessible to audiences. It also provided a healthy dose of humor and action that those same audience members (including me) ate up. James Gunn returns to helm the sequel with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Most of Marvel’s past sequels (Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, etc.) have fallen short of the original’s success. Are the Guardians of the Galaxy a one hit wonder or do they break the sequel curse? This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place after the events of the first film as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (David Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) use their good standing as Guardians to help others. As they help a group called the Sovereigns, their deal goes awry and they are on the run. While on the run, they meet Ego (Kurt Russell), who tells Star-Lord he is his father. With this revelation, Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians are catapulted onto an adventure, proving family is who you choose.
Sequels are freaking hard. You can be the greatest director of all time, but to make a great follow-up to a great film? That is a true test of a director. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a good sequel, not a great sequel. Returning to his creation, James Gunn did a nice job keeping the spirit alive. Nevertheless, I loved it! Let’s begin with the positives. I love the fact this film is focused on the characters. It furthers the development of Guardians as a group. Upon meeting them in the first film, they’re just a bunch of a-holes who just so happened to save the galaxy. After this film, they are a family. I also enjoyed seeing the characters paired off with others that complimented them. For example, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax have an innocent and awkward connection, while Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Rocket are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Each character was a foil for the other and helped further their development. It also answered questions left behind from the first film. I cannot wait to watch the first film with complete knowledge of the sequel.
I also loved was the colors and the music! WOW! Films like Alien and Gravity make space feel like a cold, dark, and unwelcoming place. Vol.2 brightens space up and injects color into the atmosphere. You really feel as if you are inside a crazy comic book story and are exploring the vast reaches of the galaxy. James Gunn again cultivates another great soundtrack, with hidden gems like “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and “The Chain”. While not as iconic as Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, I will say Gunn’s use of “Mr. Blue Sky” was awesome. His music choice sets the tone of the movie just like the first film’s use of “Come and Get Your Love”.
With that being said, the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is messy. The first film’s goals were simple: band together and save the galaxy. Vol.2 gets a little distracted during its runtime. The problems began when the Guardians split up into two groups. By splitting the film into two frames of action, Vol. 2 created secondary villains in addition to the main villain. While the main villain is one of the better villains in the MCU, they could have had more time dedicated to their plans and character than to the other villains.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a good sequel that is more emotional and character-driven. It lacks a little bit in the plot area, which brings the film down a few notches from the original. However, Vol. 2 knows how to stay fun and light, with James Gunn sticking to what he does best. While the magic of the team isn’t as shiny and new, it still is there. The Marvel Cinematic Universe knows what it’s doing and is doing it well. I can’t wait to see the Guardians return for another film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets a B!
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