Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

4:01 PM

This review contains Spoilers
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is directed and written by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Belko Experiment). The sequel sees the fan favourite team return - Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Passengers), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper), Dave Bautista (WWE, Spectre) and Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious, xXx). This time around, there are some new additions to the cast - Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight, The Thing) is introduced as Starlord's father, Ego. "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". The first instalment was a surprise hit - will it be just as good, if not better, the second time around?

It's odd to see Marvel take a slight step back - Guardians 2 is a flawed film but thankfully it makes up for those flaws in different areas - if not, it could have been Marvel's first bad film in years. The biggest issue is that the film lacks a clear and coherent narrative which makes you feel like you're just wondering around in the waiting room for the first hour (or so) of the film. Ultimately, I probably liked this film just as much as the first and I think it will definitely please audiences who are already fans of these characters. Hopefully Guardians 2 isn't the way Marvel is going to continue going - we are entering a really vital part of the MCU story-wise so the one thing they can not mess up is the narrative!

One of the weaker elements of this film was probably the performances - one in particular...Chris Pratt. Yes, I am starting to doubt whether Pratt has much diversity as an actor and (dare I say it), whether he can actually act. Pratt was tested in Passengers and struggled to deliver and here, he is given some deep and dark material and it often feels quite forced. I was also surprised by how this wasn't really the Chris Pratt show - even though Starlord is central to the 'plot', I don't think he really did much. However, this is of course because the Guardians films are team films not solo outings. Pratt was still very likeable and comedic. Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper both reprise their roles well - Cooper in particular was very funny. Oh, and Vin Diesel's "I am Groot"'s are cuter than ever. I was impressed by Kurt Russell who I thought did a brilliant job as Ego - especially when the twist is revealed. The chemistry between Saldana and Pratt is electric and I really do believe them to be a couple - their romance was a nice subplot for the film. I also liked the subplot involving Gamora and Nebula - not only did we get character development but a relationship was effectively created between the two - almost live-action Anna and Elsa. One person who I think Marvel wasted a pay cheque on was Sylvester Stallone - his character wasn't important and honestly, he was the weakest link - his (few) moments on-screen were pretty hard to get through. My favourite characters coming out of Guardians 2 were Drax, Mantis, Gamora and Nebula - this film did a really good job with these characters - Drax had a purpose (providing comic relief), Mantis was really interesting - we got character development with her character and she also played a part in some of the film's funniest scenes (my favourite was where she thought Rocket was a puppy) and Gamora and Nebula became an unlikely duo. What I noticed though is that although it's been proven that this team work together - none of the fights really showcased them actually working together or using all of their separate abilities as one - they all kind of did their own thing for the greater good. 

Even though the performances could have been stronger, I think one area that will be hard to top is the visual effects. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a visually mesmerising film - I don't think I have seen a film this beautiful before or a film with CGI this good. I say this often but you could pause this film at most moments and it would make for a perfect screensaver. Some of my favourite visuals came when Nebula and Gamora are fighting - the extreme wide shots that are used really help to show the beautiful landscape of the planet. Another was when Yondu's arrow was flying through a pitch black area - it looked super cool. The world building is also very good - I want to see more of the planets we only got glimpses of. If you get the chance to, definitely see the film in 3D as the visuals are really heightened by it. I honestly think this film could get Marvel its first Oscar - these visuals are better than Gravity in depicting space in my opinion, it's just fantastic! 

This is why I was quite upset and distracted throughout the film as I was looking at it, enjoying myself but couldn't help being reminded that there was no story. You could call it a non-existent plot, major pacing issues, slow-burning or even building to something bigger but the first half of Guardians 2 really is lost in space. Thinking back, there isn't really a clear and coherent story for a long while. This is the narrative mess of Guardians 2's first act:
1. The Guardians defeat a monster for Ayesha but still her batteries.
2. Ayesha wants them dead for stealing.
3. Ego saves the Guardians.
4. Ayesha recruits Yondu.
5. Ego and Starlord bond and make up for lost time
6. Rocket, Groot and Fondu plan and try to escape from TaserFace. 
7. Nebula flies to Ego and wants to kill Gamora
8. Mantis reveals Ego's true intentions 
9. The villains plan is revealed and the film picks up
So there are 9 different plot points within the first hour or so and unfortunately, they all cancel each other out - superhero films usually have clear plots with a villain with clear intentions. I understand that the whole Ayesha plot was just a red herring but I never believed her to be the big bad of the film - she felt too much like an opening fight, one dimensional villain to be anything more. Simply put, the first act is a mess and it may be hard for some to get through but trust me, the plot does pick up in the second half. When the twist occurred and it was revealed that Ego wanted to use Starlord to help him take over the world, it was pretty shocking. It was also surprising when it was revealed that Starlord wasn't Ego's only child and he killed many before when they failed in helping. What clarified Ego as a villain was when it was revealed that he planted the tumour in Starlord's mothers brain - as soon as this was revealed, I was fully on board with killing Ego. Like most villains, Ego's plan isn't as clear as it could be - I wouldn't be able to exactly tell you what he wanted to do. The film also got quite sad during the second act - Yondu's death was pretty hard hitting - especially as a main theme of this film is exploring father/son relationships. The fact that Yondu sacrificed himself for Starlord demonstrates just how father/son-like their relationship was. I don't think Marvel has got this sad or dark before!- ironically, in such a colourful film. I've already mentioned it but Guardians 2 is also just as funny as the first instalment - laughs are provided by pretty much everyone but the MVPs are Drax, Mantis, Rocket and Groot - it was also funny when Ayesha was walking on her blue carpet in the snow. However, a lot of the jokes revolved around sex which made the film come across as unnecessarily crude at times. 

Something that these films are known for is the soundtrack or 'mixtape'. It worked really well in the first film and films like Suicide Squad have copied it. However, I have to say, the soundtrack was one of the most irritating parts of Guardians 2 - it kind of got in the way and I almost sensed the person in the editing room pressing play on the music before the scene, it was just unnecessary. Some of the music choices were good but I think the film milked it a little. Speaking of milking it, how do I feel about Baby Groot? I was worried at the start of the film due to the Baby Groot centred opening credits (which were admittedly funny and unique) but Baby Groot was adorable and I love him just as much coming out than I did going in - this isn't the Baby Groot show that many feared.

It's also important to note that Guardians 2 doesn't, at first glance, add anything to the MCU - there are not any clear or direct ties to Infinity War which I feel could have been a mistake. However, there was a scene towards the end of the film that hinted to the future - Nebula departs saying that she off to kill Thanos. We know that the Guardians will be in Infinity War so I think Nebula could definitely be something to do with it. The post credit scenes also surprisingly don't tease for Infinity War or Thor 3 for that matter. A couple of them are simply comedic stingers that don't really add much but there is one that is probably most worthwhile - when Ayesha reveals her creation 'Adam' - I don't know anything about this character but it made a couple of the people I was watching with incredibly excited. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a solid film - it has a good cast but Chris Pratt needs to work on his serious acting. The films fatal flaw is that it doesn't have a clear plot until the second act - some may get bored, some may get confused, some may not care but I just feel there was nothing that hooked you in in the first act. The twists and turns of the relationship between Starlord and his father, Ego was interesting and shocking. Guardians goes pretty dark and actually proves that Marvel does have balls and will go there (death of major characters). The visual effects are mesmerising and should be experienced in 3D. I want to see more of these unusual and terrific characters, hopefully next time, a slightly better story can be told. 


What did you think of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2? What makes you most excited about Infinity War? - COMMENT BELOW

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  1. agree with many comments , should really use song once, twice tops then be done with it. Also if you're going to use a song don't leave out the coolest part after teasing it being used in the trailer (bass line for "The Chain") Yondu's arrow trick clever but really overplayed, yeah, we get it, same with Rocket blowing people up and Groot going to get wrong thing....just a bit too much fun. Nice to see the bonding and hear Nebula's backstory and agree, Stallone added nothing. Fun scene of adolescent Groot during credits, though his dance to Mr Blue Skies is truly a favorite .

  2. It's a fun movie that knew exactly what it was and didn't take itself too seriously. The cast was game and brought the right energy to the roles. The villain was genuinely creepy, the effects weren't great but hold up better than the sequels, as a throwback adventure it just worked .

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