Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

After the critical and box office success of 2014’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, it was a no-brainer that Disney/Marvel would continue the story of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot. The first film was filled with great sci-fi action, hilarious banter and stunning visuals. The film helped bring this obscure team to the forefront of super hero films and had everyone falling in love with Baby Groot at the end of the post-credit scene.

Flash forward to ‘Volume 2’, a film touting the return of the main hero team along with characters like Yondu, Nebula, newcomer Mantis and the inclusion of Kurt Russell’s Ego. Beginning with all previously released marketing material like trailers, TV spots, and merchandise; this new film looked to capitalize on the light-hearted tone of the first movie by upping the laughs and cuteness of Baby Groot. With all of the build-up out of the way, let’s get into this review.

The crux of the plot revolves around the family concept, and boy, is it really hammered home. The audience is finally introduced to Peter’s father, Ego, who is revealed as a Celestial whom is millions of years old. Ego has been searching for Peter and finally finds him, as the Guardians crash onto his planet after Rocket rips off the Soverign. Things seem too good to be true as Peter an Ego are bonding, only to have Ego’s true intentions revealed in the second half of the film.

Along with the main plot, each of the other characters are highlighted in a familial sense. Gamora and Nebula’s relationship sees a lot of development, Rocket and Yondu become fast friends, Drax has some chemistry with Mantis, and Baby Groot does Baby Groot things. Without getting too much into plot points, I’m going to talk about my likes and dislikes.

Likes

This film is visually stunning. I feel like last year’s ‘Doctor Strange’ really raised the bar in terms of effects and ‘Guardians’ maintained the quality. The cosmic side of the MCU is further fleshed out with new planets, creatures, and races like the Celestials, the Watchers, the Sovereign, and the introduction of Ego the Living Planet. I was very curious going into this movie as to how they would portray Ego, as the character is literally a planet in the comics. I liked how they kept the character true to the comic version (though Ego is not Peter’s father in the comics) while integrating a human form to relate to Peter’s humanity.

The action scenes that we did get were pretty cool, chiefly the scene where Yondu lays waste to the Ravager mutiny. Yondu and Rocket were my favorite pairing, as the two are very similar in personality. I did find myself laughing a lot throughout the film, but I’ll talk more about the humor when I get to my dislikes. I enjoyed the reveal of Ego giving Peter’s mother the brain tumor that killed her, as it was a pivotal plot point in the story and helped to integrate events from the first film.

There were also some really cool easter eggs that I picked up on: the incorporation of the quantum realm (also from ‘Ant-Man & ‘Doctor Strange’), the hint of different dimensions, the Stan Lee/Watchers reveal, seeing Howard The Duck again, dialogue about Thanos and the possible future interactions between he and the Guardians, the glimpse at the original comic version of the Guardians team, and the Adam Warlock reveal. James Gunn does such a wonderful job at peppering in these easter eggs for fans of the source material that the common fan may not pick up on.

Dislikes

In recent weeks, my group of friend and I have heavily debated the overuse of humor in both the MCU and comic book movies in general. I had been on the side of accepting the humorous tone Kevin Feige and the film directors have embedded in these films, as they add levity and fun for fans of all ages. After all, the goal is to make as much money as possible, so there has to be elements for fans of all ages to enjoy to maximize profit. However, after this film, I think I have changed my stance on the subject.

This film relied on humor way too much to the point that it took away from the storyline, which was pretty weak. There were very few scenes that didn’t have forced jokes and one-liners thrown in for the sake of appeasing younger fans and it became a detriment to the overall film. For example: Drax the Destroyer didn’t destroy anything. His character was a glorified comic relief part that became stale halfway through the movie. Knowing that his quest for vengeance and revenge at the murder of his family at the hands of Thanos and seeing his physique as a large, hulking man only to be relegated to dumb comedy really hinders the essence of his character. Having Groot in this film was pretty much a waste, as he really served no purpose whatsoever. His tiny form is purely for the sake of selling toys and merchandise and he could have not appeared in the movie at all and it wouldn’t have really mattered. The overall lack of action from the main team was disappointing, as we barely see Star-Lord in action.

The humor in these films is becoming a concerning issue for me, as I don’t want to see intense scenes and plot points ruined by ill-timed jokes, especially as we’re only a year away from ‘Infinity War’. It’s hard to take these characters seriously and leads me to believe they won’t stand a chance against a threat like Thanos. With stakes being raised and the destruction of the universe a real possibility, are we going to see Star-Lord try to dance battle the Mad Titan? Enough is enough.

Closing Thoughts

I didn’t hate this film, but I didn’t love it either. There were a lot of really cool, fun things in this movie that kept me enveloped, but the other issues stated above lowered my overall impression. It’s hard for a sequel to live up to the original film when it’s so well-received, and this certainly is the case here. The cosmic side of the MCU has such incredible potential and can literally take us fans anywhere in the universe. I hope the creative team at Marvel can right the ship and give us high-quality films with more even tones. RIP Yondu.

My rating: 6.5/10