Having (hopefully) learned my lesson about movies and changing perspectives, I made sure to see this movie twice and give myself time to think it over before putting my final thoughts on paper. Having done that, I can say with confidence that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 truly is great! It is among my top 5 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will likely stay there for a long time. I don’t know if I like 2 more than the first one but this is a well-crafted movie determined to provide much more character drama and development than before to allow the characters to grow. I can safely say that James Gunn (Slither, Super) managed to create just the right balance of that character drama with the comedy we all know and love!
Taking place a few months after the first movie, we find the Guardians have been hired to kill a monster by… a faction I can’t remember the name of without googling so I’m just going to call them “the Gold People”. That’s not some inside joke or hidden meaning. These people are literally made up of gold paint.
After finishing the job, they are paid with a prisoner. However, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) gets the team in trouble and the High Priestess of the Gold People, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), orders for the Guardians to be destroyed. You’re going to love what the Gold People’s space fleet is made of! From there the team is saved from the Gold Fleet by none other than Star-Lord/Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) dad, who appears as an avatar of Kurt Russell (Escape From New York, Tombstone)!
GOTG2 has plenty of the comedy we all know and love but is also a more serious affair. The viral fan poster of the Guardians in the positions of Empire Strikes Back is not some accident of nature. GOTG2 really is in many ways an homage to ESB. Both include daddy revelations, the unlocking of untapped power, family drama and relationship issues, finding new friends, finding out someone we’re initially against may not be so bad after all, the team even splits up to be on their own separate adventures.
There is a proper balance between serious character moments and the James Gunn comedy we know. some have said this is a case of trying to recapture old glory. There is an argument to be made there but I find it difficult to complain about it when I just adore the character development on screen and all the jokes had me laughing the whole way! The only one that felt like it may have gone on a bit too long was the bit about how ridiculous Taserface’s (Chris Sullivan) name is but, again, I cannot truly complain when I was laughing the whole way!
The new Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) is just adorable! I don’t know how you can look at and listen to him and not just see one of the cutest things ever put to film! But make no mistake, in spite of his cuteness, Baby Groot is still very much deadly! You make him mad, hurt him or his friends in some way, he will be brutal! Honestly, I might prefer him over adult Groot from the first movie!
My favorite character in this movie is probably Yondu (Michael Rooker). This is also a redemption story for him and I didn’t think I could ever feel sympathy for him but they found a way to do it! He was just so funny, charming, charismatic, I love Yondu in this movie! And yes his moment with mentor Sylvester Stallone (Nighthawks, Tango and Cash) is a powerful moment in the film. Stallone’s character is definitely someone I want to see more of for the mere fact he’s Sylvester Stallone as a space pirate/thief!
The least interesting character was Nebula (Karen Gillan). That’s not to say she was bad, I liked her performance, but she was not very noteworthy. I forget she was even in the movie at times until she started talking. The whole movie feels like it could have gone exactly the way it did without Nebula being anywhere in the film. Though I suppose this is inevitable to have at least one character like this when you have a larger ensemble than previously.
The Gold People were little more than a plot device. I know they need to set them up for the next movie, as they will probably be the primary antagonists, but they felt extraneous to everything else in the movie. Though it was by no means a deal-breaker and honestly not terrible set-up.
The villain of this movie has been a well-kept secret. I will not spoil it, but I will say, with MCU villains having been consistently intriguing at first but boring on repeat viewings, or boring from the get-go, or just a waste of great actors (Robert Redford, James Spader, Mads Mikkelsen), it’s great to finally see an MCU villain on the big screen who was not less interesting on repeat viewings! This was not at all a waste of a great actor! He was charismatic, amazing, threatening, someone who felt like a villain in their own unique way! It’s thrilling that we finally have that from the MCU!
GOTG2 is a fun ride with an emotional core that you do not want to miss if you love these characters and this corner of the MCU! FOr me personally, this is the best part of the MCU today! Which is why I dread the day we see them interact with the Avengers. Yes it is exciting as a comic book fan to see all these different characters come together, but my comic book fanboy dreams don’t overrule my love of good cinema. Part of what makes the Guardians the best part of the MCU is that they’re the most disconnected from it. They can do almost anything they want. When they team up with the Avengers, some of that magic might be gone and it could ruin the Guardians.
Also, I don’t care for Thanos (Josh Brolin) anymore. I stopped caring about him some time ago. Marvel’s been riding this train for the past five years now and they’ve done absolutely nothing with him. His three cameos have not established anything more than “he exists”. I know why he’s a big deal in the comics and what that means for Infinity War, but it’s too late now, and they haven’t given anything for Thanos in the movies.