GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Directed by: James Gunn
It’s finally here! The first of the three Marvel anticipated movies this year has been released in theatres (near you of course). Let’s just jump right into the movie review.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sequel to the first movie of the same name, save for the ‘Vol.’ in the title. It is directed by the returning James Gunn and brings back our beloved Guardians crew Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Baby Groot (Mini Vin Diesel) as they continue to save the galaxy as hired mercenaries of some sort by those who need protection, or support, from threats (mostly menacing creatures). Yondu (Michael Rooker) is back as well, exiled and not taken seriously as a Ravagers leader due to his ‘softness’ towards Peter, who is like his adopted son, as he raised Peter ever since he was a kid. He also taught him how to steal…
Let’s talk about the lovable characters in this movie. Right off at the start of the movie, we have BABY GROOT! He is cute of course, but more than that, he is angry. And anger means aggression, which Baby Groot consistently shows throughout the movie, sometimes even towards a particular teammate (*cough* Drax *cough*). He has grown a pair of legs of course, as we’ve seen from the trailer, and extendable arms/branches (?) which he uses quite conveniently. Baby Groot also loves dancing (the after-credit scene from the first movie might have foreshadowed this). But what is perhaps the most striking about his character is his innocence and how he needs to be taught how to do stuff, and Rocket does a pretty good job at parenting Groot in this movie. And it is SO CUTE! Fortunately, or unfortunately, he does not steal the show; that opinion is debatable and very subjective.
Then we have Drax. Personally, we loved Drax, because for one, his character wasn’t as explored in the first movie, but come the sequel, we suddenly find out that he’s not the completely raging character that we saw in Vol. 1 after all. Drax is in fact very easily entertained and laughs at almost anything that he perceives funny. It is adorable to see this side of Drax and we’re glad that the movie portrays it. His chemistry in Vol. 1 seemed to be awkward with regards to the other characters, but it seemed quite smooth and fluid in Vol. 2, which is excellent news. We’ve also known that Drax is dense in Vol. 1 when it comes to understanding sarcasm and takes things literally. Fans will be glad to know that while he does maintain the same personality, he also learns along the way and comes up with unexpected straightforwardness and sarcasm of his own. Overall, Drax has become one of the favourites amongst the team.
Finally, we have the most anticipated character of all – MANTIS! When we first saw Mantis (Pom Klementieff) in the trailer, we expected an aggressive and intimidating character in the movie. Turns out, she’s a VERY lovable and adorable character. She can be considered a female mirror of Drax, since she too, is dense in understanding stuff and is sometimes awkward. Which is a good thing. Mantis is straightforward but is also very smart. If you have read the comics, you would know that she possesses telepathic powers that enable her to sense the emotions of others. Her chemistry with Drax is extraordinary, and the scenes including both of them are hilarious to say the least.
The secret to a good film is the character development. In order for viewers to empathise with the characters, these characters are painted with layers of complexity. The first film did amazing in making us feel for Quill, Gamora, and Rocket. And the second film continued that tradition wonderfully. Drax who was painted as a war-mongering alien was brilliantly portrayed by Bautista as a humorous guy who is not as straightforward as the first movie made it seems like. Nebula and Yondu who were both considered as side characters were given a stronger arc and an emotional depth that was absent in the first film. Even newcomer Mantis had a quality to her that just charms us completely.
But let’s talk about Ego for a second. Kurt Russell is an amazing actor and he managed to grab the viewers’ attention with his spectacular performance. He smoothly sold the idea of a caring father to Quill that we just can’t help but to wish the movie will end there, just so Quill could have a happy ending. Of course conflict arises, but Russell managed to deliver his character to the very end. Be sure to look out for a de-aged Russell portraying Ego in his younger days when he was madly in love.
While there are quite a few genuine funny scenes, the bulk of the them seemed to be forced. It felt like the sequel almost wanted to live up to the success of the first one, in terms of its hilarity. Humour is an essential aspect that Marvel incorporates into its movies to make them more lively and enjoyable, but if this aspect is used to shove it down the viewers’ throats, there is no point in including it in the first place. We may seem harsh, but that’s what we felt.
What the film did great was to expand and connect the MCU universe. In Vol. 1, we were introduced to the universe but this film went a step further when they brought to us an entire alien species and introduced to the viewers the concept of a Celestial, which is a concept that is not previously mentioned in any Marvel film. There were even appearances by the Watchers, but we won’t tell you where. In one scene, it was revealed to the viewers that a mystic arts user had migrated to space, thus connecting this film to Dr Strange.
Next, we have the visuals. Oh. My. God. As fans of space and galaxies, we loved the depiction of the outer world up there. The colours seemed to blend in at just the right amount and the animations were on point. The special effects during the action scenes were superb, as well as all the tiny details, such as the scales on Drax’s body (are those scales?). The costumes were pretty great and fitting, and the fact that Gamora, Drax, Yondu, Nebula, and all the ‘coloured’ characters (racism not intended) had to stay in their paint at all times says a lot about the effort the costume design put into the characters.
The soundtracks give out a mixed feeling vibe. While it is quite pleasant to listen to the classic 70’s songs come to life again and also fit in certain scenes, we felt that, much like the humour, the mix-tape was forced towards the viewers. Don’t get us wrong; we LOVE the soundtracks, and they did a pretty great job at marketing themselves throughout the movie. However, it did not live up to the hype of the prequel’s mixtape.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did a marvelous job as a film. Although slightly lacking when compared to the first one, it still managed to show us our favourite characters and why they are our favourite. It brilliantly expanded the universe, managed to keep the humour that the previous excelled at, and it brought to us some brilliant character development. It’s a good film but it will never live up to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. Don’t get your hopes up.