Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – Film Review
It took a lot of Apple-esque courage to bet on a green alien woman (previously blue in another franchise), a wrestler, a talking racoon, a walking tree with a limited vocabulary and that chubby guy from Parks And Recreation to deliver the surprise hit that was the first Guardians Of The Galaxy flick. And boy, did that bet pay off. The film rose to be counted among the Top 3, if not Top 5 MCU movies of most movie enthusiasts (including this writer’s) simply for its sheer audacity and comic timing that was guided by the indie hand of director James Gunn. His sophomore effort this time around attempts to answer some of the questions posed in the first film, like who is Peter Quill’s father, how did Yondu find Peter, why does Nebula hate Gamora so much, and how is Groot so goddarn cute.
You can tell that the powers that be at Marvel gave Gunn a free reign on this one simply by watching the opening credits, that sacrifices what appears to be a massive action set piece for the most heartwarming Baby Groot dance sequence. The director’s hand shows in the film’s narrative that’s peppered with moments of hilarity. But under all those laughs is a living, breathing tale about family, powerful enough to move Vin Diesel’s fast and furious Dominic Toretto to tears. The underlying theme about family is explored not only through Peter Quill’s discovery of his long-lost father, the aptly named Ego played to perfection by Kurt Russell, but also in the reunion of siblings Gamora and Nebula, the bond between Drax and the achingly sweet Mantis, a newfound kinship between Rocket and the Ravagers, as well as the Guardians as a unit. The film delves into what it takes to be a family, whether the family you choose could be as strong as the one you’re born into and what darker secrets slither under the surface of these relationships. And it is here that Yondu’s story arc ties all the many narrative threads together forming the spinal column that keeps this film upright.
If the Guardians came together in the first film, this one verges on tearing them apart. And it is here that Gunn’s characters reveal their true quality. The constant riffing between Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, the anarchic racoon/trash panda/puppy/whathaveyou is a solid counterpoint to Dave Bautista’s mental filter-free Drax and Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, the new inductee into the franchise. The mystery behind the abrasion between Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Karen Gillan’s Nebula becomes apparent, as space pirate Yondu struggles to balance a take-no-prisoners attitude with his own paternal instincts with outcomes that don’t always go his way. But its Ego’s enigmatic sway over them all which gives Peter Quill something he truly desires – a father figure, that threatens to alter the dynamics of the group. Watching every character navigate through this asteroid field of relationships while still holding on to familial bonds is what pushes the narrative of GOTG Vol 2 forward.
The movie has its not-so-awesome moments too, when some of the jokes don’t quite hit the mark. Like the running gag about a Ravager named Taserhead that probably sounded better on paper than it does on screen. After a riveting first hour, the films starts to slack, sometimes tripping over itself with a wobbly pace and shift in tone. Fortunately, the film salvages itself with a third act that goes all-out on the action. The set pieces are well-scripted to forgive the green screen overuse. But who are we kidding? These are the frikkin Guardians Of The Galaxy. And just like the first film, this too has an earworm of a soundtrack with a kitschy mix of popular and obscure tracks from the 80’s that will have you headbopping along.
The first outing of our favourite A-holes had the element of surprise, and that’s what made it such a fun movie. This one tries its best to live up to it, but ultimately falls a few notches short of the mark. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad film. On the contrary, it’s the need for things like a compelling story to propel it forward over balls out laser battles that weighs it down. And perhaps some of our own expectations as an audience add to that weight. Nonetheless, this one merits a trip to your nearest theatre, preferably one that screens it in the IMAX format. Buckle your seatbelt for a wild ride with the galaxy’s most badass rogues to step onscreen since Han Solo. And stick around for the multiple mid-credits and post-credit scenes that might thrill hardcore comicbook fans. The real easter eggs are in the closing credits though, although it will take an eagle eye to spot them all.
Men of Comics Ratings: (4 / 5)
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