With Guardians of the Galaxy being one of the most surprising hits in recent memory, I was fascinated with the potential of a sequel. This is easily my most anticipated sequel to ever come out in the MCU and I had high hopes for it. Of course, before the release of this movie I looked into early reviews that were mixed yet leaning more toward positive. It doesn’t happen often, but I got a little nervous. My hype for the movie began to drop a bit…up until I bought my ticket and the excitement came back. The memory of the amazing theatre experience of the first film had me eager to see if the sequel could duplicate that feeling. It actually did. This movie is pretty damn good.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 we follow our band of idiots as they’ve continued to do “good” around the galaxy. After they decide to steal from a group of gold people called the Sovereign, they run into Ego (played by Kurt Russel), who claims to be Starlord’s father. Fans of the first movie know that the identity of Starlord’s father was one of the plot points left open at end of the film, so it made sense for this movie to explore it. It also creates a very interesting movie that doesn’t really emphasize action, but focuses solely on these characters that the audience has already fallen in love with. In that we get a movie that has a deep emotional core rooted in the theme of family. This isn’t just for Starlord either, most of the characters here get some development to them. I appreciate this take on the sequel because they could have easily just made the movie have a bigger scale with more jokes and it would have probably went over with the fans great. Not saying there aren’t more jokes in this film, but there’s a lot more to it.
These characters are what drive this narrative and we really get to see some of them shine. The biggest stand out is without a doubt Yondu. He was an interesting character in the first movie, but he really steps up and takes center stage. His motivations and relationship with Starlord both get fleshed out. We learn about his past and some of the things he might have been associated with. These really fed what is one of the more satisfying character arcs in the entire MCU. Along with him Starlord also had a big spotlight on him. The way him and Ego play off of each other really give an insight on his character. It was a lot fun and at times heart warming to learn about how much he really wanted a father.
James Gunn decided that the best way to say more about these characters was to pair them off with other characters away from the entire group. Starlord was with Ego, Yondu with Rocket, Gamora with Nebula, and Drax with newcomer Mantis. They all worked to varying degrees. The Yondu and Rocket pair did a lot for Yondu, but Rocket felt like he wasn’t explored nearly enough. There is a great backstory for that character somewhere, but we didn’t get there yet. Their relationship was still a joy to watch though. Their chemistry is off the charts and it’s nice when you realize how alike they really are. Drax and Mantis had the least amount of actual development. I still don’t really know much about Mantis, and Drax was mostly pumping out jokes. There was one scene between the two that worked for me on an emotionally level. Mantis has the power to touch someone and feel the emotions they’re feeling. Drax lost his family to Thanos, but never really shows any emotion to the rest of the crew. I’ll let you put 2 and 2 together on how that plays out. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the film.
The pairing that didn’t work for me was Gamora and Nebula. They’re sisters and both daughters of Thanos so it’s cool to learn about what their childhood was like, but the execution was so sloppy. All we got were exposition dumps on things that happened in the past. I would rather you show it to me or tell me in a more compelling way. The actual information we got is horrifying though, especially for Nebula. It’s easier to understand why she’s a prick at every turn.
Other than our main cast we do get some supporting characters that manage to stand out. I have to mention Stakar (played by Sylvester Stallone). He was probably on screen for about 3 minutes, but in that little bit of time he left a big impression. He had a great conversation with Yondu to start the film and overall had a great presence. I would love to see more of that character. Kraglin (played by Sean Gunn) is the right hand man to Yondu. He started out as just this skinny ravager guy, but by the end of the film he completely earns his spot in the group. Last are the Soverign. I know people are mixed on the gold people, but I actually really liked them in this movie. They think of themselves as the perfect beings and their relationship with the Guardians during the film had me laughing every time. This is especially true for the space battle scenes because of how they treat them like an arcade game. That was gold…no pun intended.
Oh and I didn’t mention him earlier because he was just kinda there, but Baby Groot. That little dude was as adorable as you thought he would be in this film. I completely understand the appeal, and his comedy was pretty sweet. The opening to the movie alone was enough for me to get on board with this version of the character. Plus you see how he interacts with other members of the group, especially Drax, Rocket, and Yondu. Overall, the character was done very well.
There wasn’t a big emphasis on the action, but the little bit that was in the movie worked well. The best scene was definitely with Rocket. You get to see how tactical he really is and how awesome his “toys” are. Yondu and his arrow come back in this movie and do some really impressive. The end fight with almost everyone involved was also done well. My only complaint was there was barely any fighting with Drax. He gets one scene at the very beginning and that’s it. During the final fight he has to run off when the action starts so you never get to see him throw down. For someone named Drax the Destroyer, he wasn’t doing much destroying. At least he was the funniest character in the movie.
The main villain was also interesting. I won’t reveal who it is, but he is easily my favorite Marvel villain to date. It took a while, but they finally decided to emphasize a villain not named Loki. I found him to be an intriguing character that played off the Guardians very well.
The very end of the movie was meant to be extremely emotional much like the ending to the first film. There isn’t a “We are groot!” moment in here, but there are a sequence of events that play out and hit way harder than that line ever could. The ending was drawn out, meaningful, and had the emotional weight that it was meant to have. It was a good exclamation point to a film that has way more emotional depth than anyone would have thought it would. The characters go through a lot and progress their arcs in a satisfying way that really got me way more invested. Forget the Avengers, these are the characters I want to see more of.
As far as problems I have with the movie, there are very few. I mentioned earlier that it can get exposition heavy, especially between Gamora and Nebula. The other thing is something I worry about a lot with the MCU, and that’s tonal conflicts. There are so many jokes in this film that land well, but there are others that are just poorly timed. When everything is on the line and things are getting serious I don’t need to see Starlord capitalize on a joke that was made earlier in the film. It takes me out of the moment. While the chemistry between the characters feel organic, some of the jokes come off as hollow and forced because of their timing. It doesn’t stop the movie from being funny, but prevents it from being funny on the level that something like Deadpool was on.
Overall, I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. It stopped itself from being a shallow rehash of the first, and added some serious emotional depth. The screenplay allowed this very likable cast of characters to push the narrative forward as we learned more about them. The action wasn’t the emphasis, but was still executed well. This movie easily has my favorite Marvel villain. There was also this overarching theme of family. Whether it’s your relationship with your family, who is even considered part of your family, and the family you may have lost. The only problems are the exposition heavy scenes and how some of the jokes don’t work with some of the more serious tones that movie goes for. It doesn’t stop this movie from being an extremely enjoyable ride though.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 gets a 90/100
Those post credit scenes were all pretty interesting as well…All 5 of them. The first one gives me a good feeling about a certain character movie forward. The second one was a good nod to characters related to the Guardians of the Galaxy comic. The third scene was the scene I was most confident I would see before even watching the movie. Volume 3 looks like it will include a character that people have been asking since the first movie was announced. The fourth was a very funny progression for one of the main characters. The last one was exclusively for the crowd. It seems like James Gunn didn’t mind playing into a popular fan theory.