Movie Review

Film Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017): A New Benchmark in Action-comedies

Chris Pratt Kurt Russell Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Film Review, a movie directed by James Gunn, and starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Elizabeth Debicki, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Tommy Flanagan, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, and Sean Gunn.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 exceeded the first Guardians of the Galaxy film in every way. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now the gold standard when it comes to comic book movie comedies. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be the film to which every other comic book movie comedy is compared. Deadpool was an extremely humorous comic book movie but it was not as funny as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In Deadpool, Wade Wilson and his antics were responsible for 99% of the jokes and humor in the film. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there was an entire cast of characters delivering jokes, one-liners, and creating situations of varying degrees of hilarity.

The opening scene for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a CGI extravaganza of: sound, science-fiction action, horror, music, and dance. It blended together all of the high-end visual elements the viewer could expect from the film. The extra $30 Million of  budget that director James Gunn received for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was all over the screen (e.g. the environments, the special effects) from the moment the film began.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the type of sequel that potential film franchises hope for when they create their follow-up narrative. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did something that it was free to do and something that it did not have to do. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was free to set its heroes off on a new adventure now that the origin film was out of the way. Even though they were on that new adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn’t have to but still explored its characters, even one of its antagonists, deepening the viewer’s understanding of those characters and their motivations.

The characters that benefited the most from this were: Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Peter Quill / Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Nebula (Karen Gillan).

Drax stole almost every scene he took part in during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the person that bluntly said aloud what they were thinking. Throughout Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Drax was given, via James Gunn’s script, ample moments where he reflected on his dead wife and children in meaningful ways. This happened across multiple scenes that involved sympathetic Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Star-Lord, whose mind dwelled on his own family and relationship troubles.

Though Peter Quill’s lineage was explored in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it did not have the resonance that it should have. It had its moments though, including a big surprise and a moment of violence truncated by the film’s rating.

The big event of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was Star-Lord finally meeting his father but like all long held wishes, what the wisher got was not what they had been expecting i.e. Star-Lord’s father wasn’t David Hasselhoff-ish.

Ego (Kurt Russell) was the typical hidden bad guy with a plot to take over or destroy the world (in this case, multiple worlds) who had to be thwarted in the third act of the film. Ego was a two dimensional character, the type of written-off parental unit that would only search for their progeny because they needed something from them. This was all under the guise of Ego wanting to be a father to Star-Lord, a role that Star-Lord was increasingly eager to let Ego fill, to the chagrin of some of those around Star-Lord.

When Ego’s evil plot and past crime were revealed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it initiated one of the numerous impressive action / CGI moments in the film. The viewer knew that Star-Lord had two laser guns but the viewer had no idea that Star-Lord was gunslinger fast with them. When Star-Lord “lit up” Ego with his laser guns, the Marvel / PG-13 catch was in place. As is the habit, the being hit with the super destructive force was invulnerable (e.g. The Hulk) and the damage reversed itself (e.g. Wolverine’s healing factor). Star-Lord would never have been allowed by Marvel or the MPAA to shoot a regular flesh and blood biped like that who was not invulnerable or had no powers of regeneration and still maintain the film’s money-making, PG-13 rating. Blood and cauterized viscera would have been everywhere à la Rated-R Logan.

The eventual showdown between Ego and Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was what a frequent comic book movie viewer would have expected – the two of them, in CGI-bliss, knocking each other silly while not hurting each other in the slightest. What elevated this sequence out of the mundane was all the comedy, action, and drama happening around it.

That circulating melodrama was not empty like in the Star Wars prequels. Characters whom the viewer liked were involved so there was actually something at stake. There was a risk of not seeing one or more of those characters again (which was a prophetic fear as it turned out). There was the risk of not being intrigued by their unknown histories and personality depths anymore.

In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, the viewer got that Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) had a complicated relationship but it was only briefly touched upon. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the genesis of Nebula’s animosity (misdirected or not) towards Gamora was fully revealed and explored, adding much-needed backstory to both characters. There were lingering questions regarding Nebula after a pivotal moment in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Was she always pulling her punches (so to speak) with regard to Gamora or was she simply never able to hit Gamora (to best her), no matter what technological or ordnance advantage she had over her? If Gamora saw that Thanos was cybernetically altering Nebula against her will every time Nebula lost to her, why did Gamora persist in winning every contest the two of them were in?

When the one-side hug occurred in the third act of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Nebula couldn’t hug Gamora back. Nebula wasn’t ready to yet. She couldn’t let go of that long held hatred. All Nebula was capable of doing at that point was redirecting her hatred toward Thanos.

Like with Nebula, the viewer of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 couldn’t help but be surprised and impressed with the character work put into the one-dimensional characters from the first Guardians of the Galaxy film.

Yondu Udonta’s third act sacrifice, and his words before it, were the most touching in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Yondu’s story-line in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was made substantive through what he hide during the first film – his emotional attachment to Star-Lord. Yondu endured expulsion by Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) and the Ravagers, the only family he’d ever known, to be the guardian of Star-Lord (or as Yondu put it, “his dad”).

Yondu and Rocket’s time together in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were some of the most entertaining segments (i.e. The Prison Cell and 700 Jumps scenes – the latter was funny as hell) in the entire film. Yondu saw a mirror image of himself in Rocket, his behavior (e.g. pushing people away), and his mind set. Both were at low points in their lives but each was able to help the other out of it – with the assistance of a being that could only speak one sentence  – “I am Groot.”

Because of the humor present  in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, I didn’t like that film at all. It was not what I had been expecting. I’d wanted and expected a serious film out of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film where the characters took themselves and the situations they were in seriously. That was not what I got with Guardians of the Galaxy and I was disappointed. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, my expectations had been completely recalibrated to a new paradigm. While watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I saw the Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise for what it was – an action comedy – and not for what I wanted it to be. The Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise is carving out its own path in the comic book movie industry, a comedic path, and as of its second installment, its seating at the top of that unique genre.

Rating: 9/10

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

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