Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about movies and why people don’t like them. Don’t worry, I won’t try to drag on too long. Hopefully, I can tie this together with the rest of my review. I guess the first thing I can say is, I loved the movie. It was a perfect addition to the MCU and James Gunn executed his vision perfectly. That’s the main thing I’ve been thinking about. Vision, and how risky it is for Hollywood directors to truly execute their vision.

The art of cinema has evolved in the last few decades, and continues to evolve, but certain things have become commonplace. Be it narration, stereotypes, jump scares, you name it, cinema has reached a certain level of staleness when it comes to originality. I’m not in the camp of “Cinema is dead,” that’s ludicrous, but a good chunk of films stick to a formula. Every once in a while, a director comes along who sees things differently. They have a passion for a certain subject and they want to share their passion with the world. When films like that come along (The Dark Knight, Get Out, Pulp Fiction) they are something special. But, not always in a good way. An idea is sometimes ahead of its time, or just introduced at the wrong time. Two perfect examples of this are Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman and George Lucas’ Star Wars. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Batman v. Superman for a bevy of reasons. But, Zack Snyder clearly has a vision for the DC Extended Universe. I just don’t think it fits people overall interests right now. Snyder has attempted at creating his own versions of Superman and Batman. He’s taken God-like members of the Justice League and attempted to normalize them, make them more relatable. Sometimes, he’s thrown out specific characteristics of these characters that people love, but nonetheless, it’s his vision, and he’s gotten the chance to fully execute it. Whether this version of superhero was ahead of its time, will be up to people 20=30 years from now to talk about, but right now, the general consensus is negative.

Now, while I think Snyder is a victim of a misplaced vision, I think people haven’t yet caught up to Lucas’ vision for Star Wars. That sentence alone may cause a nuclear war amongst fans, and I actually plan to elaborate on that in a later article. To keep it short, I just think fans became selfish in their love of Star Wars. To act like George Lucas owes fans anything is moronic. The prequels are universally loathed and I never knew that until I joined this community. I’ve always liked all the films. Star Wars is a family story about the Skywalker family. It’s about the failures of government and religion as well. It’s a tragedy about a young man named Anakin Skywalker. Everything else is secondary. Han Solo, the space battles, lightsabers, Vader’s suit, none of that matters. Lucas made some mistakes with the prequel films, but his vision was always there and he executed well. The Guardians of the Galaxy, at least the way we know them now in film, wouldn’t exist without James Gunn’s vision. His love for space, music, and heavy themes are what make these films special. A strictly comic book accurate version of the Guardians may not be as fun, engaging, or loving. It’s hard as a creator to throw yourself out there like that. It’s terrifying actually. I respect any creator who is willing to put themselves out there (unless of course, you’re racist or something. I hope your project never takes off.) As I stated earlier, Gunn executed his vision. It had flaws, but it was a good film. I’ll start with my expectations.

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EXPECTATIONS

Wonder Woman is the most important film coming out this year. I don’t need to explain why. Justice League looks like it can be good, but who knows, this is Spider-Man’s sixth film, only 3 years after the last one, which had a completely different actor, and lastly, I’m just not excited for Thor 3. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was my most anticipated superhero film of 2017. Most of us loved the first one. The music, action, and emotion was masterful. My favorite thing about the first movie was the development of the characters. The ending battle was epic as well. Rarely do we see a space battle during the day. It’s easier to hide visual mistakes and it usually looks better anyway. The visuals in the first film were something else. People had a problem with Ronan, the villain, but I didn’t mind him. The moment where Star Lord says, “You said it yourself bitch, we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy,” can make me tear up no matter what I’m doing. The buildup, the development of him and the others becoming a family, all of it was magical.

My expectations for this film were high. I wanted to have fun, but I also wanted these characters to grow immensely. The end of the first film left plenty of holes in the character’s development. We learned about all of their struggles, but honestly, none of them were forced to confront it. The only one was mainly Star Lord. Still, the majority of the film was spent running around the galaxy and coming together to stop Ronan. They had come together yes, I just wanted their lives to be expanded on more. The first few trailers were great, except I got a feeling this would be more comedy and action, than character development. For me, some of that’s true, but I feel bad for doubting Gunn’s vision. First, I do want to talk about the negatives for me in the film.

 

NEGATIVES

The humor was the biggest problem with this movie. The movie starts off brilliantly with a mission the Guardians have been contracted for. An alien race named the Sovereign hired them to protect power batteries from an enormous beast. Rocket takes out a speaker and plays the intro song of the film. As the rest of the team is fighting the beast, Baby Groot is dancing and the credits are rolling. A PERFECT way to introduce us to this film. The fight in the background is colorful and intense. Eventually, they defeat the beast and talk to the Sovereign. This movie’s humor felt forced, and it felt like some of the actors were over acting. Almost every conversation in this film has to turn into an awkward, verbal tango. The biggest culprits of this are Rocket and Drax to me. After they leave the Sovereign, they are attacked because Rocket stole the batteries they were supposed to protect. This causes friction between him and Peter and I did enjoy this because it helps later for Rocket’s development. A man saves them though and he reveals himself to be Ego, The Living Planet. He’s Peter’s father. Rocket is left with Groot and Nebula, who’s trying to kill Gamora the whole movie, and they are captured by the Ravagers, who have exiled Yondu as their leader because they claim he’s too soft. There’s a scene about a guy named Taserface that lasted way too long. For some people yes, it was hilarious. I chuckled a bit, but it just felt forced. Rocket made fun of the guy’s name and so did some of the Ravagers, and even a member of the Sovereign. It felt cheesy. Throughout the film, most of the jokes felt like Taserface jokes. Forced and out of place.

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Drax is hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but boy he couldn’t be quiet in this film. I know he doesn’t get sarcasm or anything like that, but he got annoying to me at times. Dave Batista does a great job as Drax, but some of his jokes (specifically the poop joke and him constantly making fun of Mantis) just annoyed me. Drax for me, worked mainly in the first film because he was trying to be serious but inadvertently was being hilarious. I got the feeling he was purposefully trying to be funny in this movie, and sometimes it didn’t work. The scene where Mantis, Ego’s assistant, reveals Star Lord’s secret love for Gamora, felt cheesy to me. It was somewhat funny the first time I saw it in the trailer, but not when I saw the film.

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I don’t have many other negatives with this film. There are a lot of positives. Easy ones first, the visuals. This movie looks fantastic. James Gunn said, “You know what, we’re going for it,” in this movie. Purples, greens, oranges, pinks, teals, and blues have never looked better in a superhero film. There were a couple times where the CGI looked a bit off, mainly on Ego’s planet, but overall, this film was stunning. My two biggest positives from this film are once again, character development and surprisingly, the villain.

 

WELCOME TO THE FREAKING GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

I’ve seen some people complain about the plot of this film. I loved it. It wasn’t anything complex, and doesn’t make you think extremely hard, but it’s the farthest thing from dull. This film actually takes place only a few months after the first film. The Guardians are still getting used to each other, but they do know enough about each other that their relationship feels real. The plot centers around Ego. Ego is Peter’s father. That’s the main plot point in this film. What I enjoyed about the film the most though was how director James Gunn handled the story. He had the Guardians split up for the majority of the film. Put them in pairs. This allowed the characters to dive deep down into the problems the first Guardians film brought up. Star Lord went with Gamora and Drax to visit Ego’s planet. Ego’s assistant Mantis was with them too. Star Lord and Gamora continued their love tango in this film. I like that they don’t go full on relationship sometimes, but this film would have been okay to have them take the next step. Still, their relationship is a good one. Drax rails on Mantis the entire movie for her ugly appearance. They’re the weakest pair in the film, but a great moment comes about halfway through the film. Mantis can feel people’s emotions just by touching them. There’s a moment where her and Drax are talking. He’s telling her about his family, who is dead. Drax sits there, emotionless and as solid as a rock. Mantis touches him and she can hardly contain the sadness flowing through her body. It was such a sad moment and added much needed complexity to Drax.

When their ship crashes, and the other three leave, Rocket, Groot, and Nebula are left. The Ravagers, who are hired by the Sovereign to take out the Guardians, show up. This action scene was awesome because it showed how resourceful Rocket was. The Ravagers get them though. The BEST character in this movie is Yondu. Yondu, has been exiled from the higher ranks of the Ravagers, for child trafficking. His crew is also tired of him for defending Peter. A mutiny is lead and Yondu is locked up with the others. The Ravagers kill the rest of the men who were loyal to Yondu. Pairing these two up together was perfect because they’re both jerks who have big hearts. They have soft spots. A funny scene happens next when Groot tries to break them out of their cell. Funniest joke in the movie was when Groot was telling Yondu about his problem with hats. Eventually, they get out and Yondu uses his whistle weapon to kill every Ravager on board.

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The Nebula and Gamora relationship is something I want to talk about as well. Throughout the movie, Nebula is desperately trying to kill Gamora. Why? Because Gamora was never the sister she wanted her to be. When they were young, Thanos, their father, would make them fight. Gamora would always win. Every time Nebula lost, Thanos would replace her body with another mechanical body part. He wanted her to be perfect. It’s a monstrous thing to do to your daughter, but this is Thanos we’re talking about. They have a powerful moment near the end of the film where all of these emotions come out. But, the damage has been done.

IM MARY POPPINS YALL

This movie to me, would have been mediocre if the villain wasn’t good. With a simple plot, cheesy jokes, and noticeable over acting, this movie could have easily been one of the worst in the MCU. The character development was gold, but I needed a good villain. Kurt Russell delivered. He’s one of the most twisted and powerful villains the MCU has ever had. Ego is a celestial being. He’s literally a planet. He created his human form so he could find some meaning in the universe. Throughout the film, he plays with Peter’s emotions. He knows that Peter always wanted to have a father. He knows that his absence can be forgotten with a couple of empty gestures (like the scene of them playing catch.) I have to commend Chris Pratt’s acting during this film. He wasn’t the brash, asshole from the first one. For the majority of the film, he was vulnerable. He let his guard down, just as Ego planned he would. Ego had discovered his calling in the universe. He knew what he was created for. And he needed Peter’s help for it. Mantis knew about Ego’s true plan, and she didn’t tell them until it was too late. Ego has had millions of children during his lifetime. Millions of women he had claimed to love. Everything was done in the name of the greater cause. Villains do this all the time. But to use love and compassion the way Ego did for years, is horrifying. For years, he was planting seeds of himself across the galaxy. He couldn’t maintain the power needed to spread himself across the galaxy. That’s where Peter comes in. Peter is the first of Ego’s children to carry his celestial genes. When Ego heard of Peter holding an Infinity Stone, he knew it was time to hatch his plan. All that isn’t evil enough for you? The third act begins when Ego admits that he’s the one who killed Meredith Quill, Peter’s mom. He weaved a sob story about not being able to stay on Earth, but he never loved her. He never loved any of the women he was with. Ego is incapable of knowing what love means. Peter snaps and a fight breaks out to destroy Ego.

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The Guardians are reunited and they decide to try and destroy Ego by blowing up his core. Rocket creates a bomb and Groot is supposed to crawl in the small spaces to place the bomb on Ego’s core. Ego gains the upper hand though. Yondu helped Peter out at the end of the fight by reminding him how he uses his arrow. Yondu tells Peter that he doesn’t use his head to move the arrow, but rather his heart. Ego asks Peter what’s the real meaning of life if you can’t be everywhere at once. He asks what does it all mean? Flashbacks of Peter’s interactions with his team, and Yondu, play and the soundtrack amps up as Peter starts to kick Ego’s ass. Peter was able to channel his celestial side. The rest of the Guardians help out as well and the bomb destroys Ego. Peter and Yondu were the only two left on the planet when it exploded. Yondu uses a space suit that Rocket gave him to save Peter. He tells him, “He may have been your father, but he wasn’t your daddy.” Yondu dies in space, and Peter loses his real father. We also learn that Yondu was delivering kids to Ego. He didn’t deliver Peter to Ego because he liked having Peter steal stuff. But also, and it took him forever to admit this, he cared for Peter. It was his biggest downfall with his people, but Yondu wasn’t going to let his boy die. An amazing ending. They have a funeral for Yondu and the rest of the Ravagers galaxy-wide come out to support. The colors are mesmerizing and it’s a great ending to the film. The last image of the movie is Rocket Raccoon, Mr. Badass himself, shedding a tear. I had already shed about 75 tears at that point.

 

FINAL THOUGHT

Some of the negative reviews I saw for Guardians 2 involved complaints about the amount of emotions. If you have read ANYTHING I’ve written before, you know I laughed when reading these reviews. I’m an emotional person. Emotions are what I crave when watching movies, especially superhero movies. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had strong family themes in it, but the individual battles these characters went through were on full display. They aren’t perfect people. The majority come from some type of slavery, Drax lost his entire family, and even Mantis was the assistant to a madman. This film to me, is meant to be viewed directly after the first one. It’s essentially Guardians 1.5, but that isn’t a bad thing. Cohesiveness is something that is somewhat missing in the MCU when it comes to trilogies. The Captain America and Iron Man trilogies are both great, but the feature a bunch of other characters from other movies that you may have to watch in order to understand the struggle those heroes are going through. You don’t have to watch any MCU films before watching Guardians 2. It’s about them only, and I love that. Visually stunning, filled with love and heart, this film is a welcome addition to the MCU.

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