Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay: James Gunn
Release Date: 10th April 2017
Reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cannot be done without first considering the unexpected success of the first film. When the Guardians of the Galaxy burst onto the silver screen in James Gunn’s 2014 film I, along with many others I’m sure, had little idea on what to expect from the odd looking group of characters we were being presented with. However, the widespread lack of awareness of this property seemed to actually serve in its favour. No one was really prepared for the shot of adrenaline that the first film turned out to be, not only for audiences but the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. It brought an incredibly unique energy and attitude.
After the likes of Infinity War and Endgame, audiences are now well versed in the cosmic offerings of Marvel. However, for a while, Gunn’s Guardians did the heavy lifting for introducing us to the wider universe. Despite all these hurdles standing in their way, Guardians made a huge impact upon release. Millions of people fell in love with their dysfunctional ‘found’ family dynamic including the person writing these words you’re currently reading. Anyway enough with the preamble, I am actually here to review the sequel – aptly named Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (who seen that title coming?).
A Star-Lord and His Father
While the lack of expectations may have aided the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the opposite problem. Now we knew these characters. We knew what made them tick and their relationships with each other. We now had expectations and ideas on how they should behave. For me, as a fan of the first, I found myself initially taken aback by the sequel and while I enjoyed it I didn’t consider it on the same level as the previous effort. That all changed with subsequent rewatches.
The opening of the film sees the Guardians taking on a contract for Ayesha, the leader of the Sovereign race. When Rocket steals the very batteries they were hired to protect a chain of events is kicked in to motion which leads to the Guardians being rescued by a mysterious man called Ego. Said mysterious man turns out to be none other than Peter Quill’s father. From there we have our story. The resulting tale of family lost and family found proved to be one of the most emotional tales within the MCU up until that point and in my eyes remains in the upper echelon.
Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
Dividing the Guardians Dynamic
As I watched the film more over the following years I became enamoured with the theme of a son searching for his father. Gunn does a lot to enhance the character of Peter Quill in this film. Seeing his emotions over his fractured relationship with his father laid bare leaves you with the impression of who he is as a human being as opposed to the affable and clumsy ‘Star-Lord’ from the first film. The scene where he plays catch with Ego is a standout. It shows us exactly what these movies are all about at their core: family. Pratt’s performance in the film is also worth noting, he anchors the film and displays some incredible emotion in particular scenes.
One of the choices Gunn made with the sequel that I initially had an issue with is now actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. That being his choice to divide the group after the inciting incident. We enter this sequel ready to enjoy the fully formed Guardians of the Galaxy already well into their tenure as galaxy… guardians? However, they are split up early into the narrative leaving us with two ‘teams’ to follow. What is lost in a group dynamic with this choice is made up by the unexpected pairs which Gunn forces some of his characters into, namely Yondu and Rocket.
Yondu and Rocket’s relationship in this film is pitch perfect, it reveals more about both of them while remaining true to who they are. Gunn also deepens the relationship between Gamora and Nebula, with the latter becoming an actual character with thoughts and feelings as opposed to her limited portrayal in the first film.
Every actor in the film does a great job. For me, it really is Quill’s journey and the genuinely effecting drama that comes with it that carries me through the story. The only drawback of the film in terms of its character portrayal for me would be the need for each of them to have moments of comedy throughout the film often when it feels unwarranted, however, this is has been a symptom of most MCU films. Despite that most of the comedy in the film works well and outlines who these people are.
A Kaleidoscopic Trip Through the Cosmos
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a visual feast. Gunn’s signature style shines through the films cinematography and now famous resurrection of forgotten pop music. The Guardians films feel like a colourful oasis in the sometimes drab colour grading of other MCU properties which allows the eclectic universe they inhabit to shine. The Sovereign throne room the Guardians visit after the opening one-shot action scene shows off the visuals perfectly, the set design consisting of rich golds and deep blues pop right off the screen. The dimensional oddities that Yondu and Rocket warp through towards the latter portion of the film on their way to reunite with the other Guardians allow Gunn to fully display the absurdity of the cosmic corners of the Marvel universe.
One of the MCU’s Finest Outings
In reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 I came to realise how high a regard I held this film in without even really being aware of it. The aspect of it I like the most is that it doesn’t just feel like another adventure with these characters, I feel like Gunn actually had something he wanted to say with this script which shines through in the plotline of Quill’s heritage. While the effect can sometimes be dulled with unnecessary humour and occasionally rough dialogue the heart of the film still beats as strong as any and remains one of the most genuinely emotional films in the entire MCU.
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