To say I’ve been excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bit of an understatement. I’m more of an indie film snob than a superhero movie fan, but I loved that first Guardians of the Galaxy film back in 2014. It was fun, colorful, sharp and witty in its screenplay, had a great cast/chemistry, and could be surprisingly emotional at times. It’s easily the best film Marvel had produced to up at that point, so my expectations for James Gunn‘s follow-up to the film this past weekend (sorry for the delayed posting of this review) was greatly expected. While Vol. 2 isn’t as good as the first film, this movie is still a blast, and a lot of the ingredients that made the first film so fun and wonderful are still here. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great kickoff to the summer movie season, and one of the best films of 2017.
The film opens up with the ragtag group of our Guardians as they save a galaxy inhabited by a group of very golden looking people with Elizabeth Debicki as their leader. After the Guardians rescue the planet, the film then dives into Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) past, with the appearance of his father Ego (Kurt Russell). As this is going on, Yondu (Michael Rooker) is still looking for his old “adopted” son Peter, while Groot (Vin Diesel) is still a little baby and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are still in the mix.
James Gunn comes back to write and direct the film, and this franchise wouldn’t be a wonderful and brilliant without him. It’s become obvious in the past few years that many of the directors that Marvel hires to make their films are just “yes-men (and women)” of sorts that’ll do whatever Kevin Feige or the Marvel bigwigs want them to do. With James Gunn, there’s definitely some of that with his films, but he’s been able to grab a sense of creative freedom that Joss Whedon had with his Avengers films where Gunn can do cool and creative things in his films, and make them please the Marvel people while also being different enough to stand out from the pact. Well, as “different” and “weird” as a multi-million dollar studio tentpole can be (which can be a lot, actually).
As promised in the last film, the inclusion of Awesome Mix Vol. 2 helps progress the story and establish a theme that others have tried to duplicate and failed miserably (*cough Suicide Squad *cough). But those films just added old 70s music just for the hell of it, while this one adds it for comedic effect, key emotional sequences, and serves as a terrific backdrop for many of the film’s action sequences. Artists ranging from ELO, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, Sam Cooke, Glen Campbell, and more are showcased in the film. The soundtrack to these films have always been one of my favorite aspects of the Guardians films, and I’m happy to still see them here.
The cast here is really great, as it always is. I don’t need to waste my time on each character, since everyone in the Guardians is terrific. It’s great to see Chris Pratt give an emotional and nuanced performance once again as Quill, on top of being the quippy Han Solo-type that he always was. The sequences with his father (which I won’t get into) are emotionally charged, which is rare for a big superhero film like this one. New additions to the cast are Pom Klementieff as Mantis, who was raised by Ego. She’s a great addition to the cast, as is Kurt Russell as Peter’s father. And without getting into spoilers, the villain in the film is one of if not the strongest villain that Marvel has had yet. They’ve had problems for years with their villains, and I think they really nail it with this one.
As fun and great as the film is, there are some flaws here and there, as there are with all these big tentpoles. I felt that the movie dragged a bit in the middle. While it was still very, very entertaining in the middle, I felt certain sequences might’ve been dragged on a bit too long. And to be honest with you, there might’ve been other problems in the film that I didn’t catch while seeing it or reviewing the film, but that’s really what stood out for me.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was such a blast, and is right behind the first Guardians as the best film in the MCU. If you loved the first Guardians like I did, you’re gonna love this new film. This series continues to be the edgiest and smartest of the film’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m forever grateful for that. I’m also immensely to hear that James Gunn will come back for a third Guardians film, which makes that film easily the most anticipated Marvel film for me now (yes, even more than Avengers: Infinity War).
Now that the summer movie season has kicked off, expect a ton of reviews this summer of the big stuff as well as some of the smaller stuff, the films that might fly under your radar. Those are always the best films in the summer.