05th May2017

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ Review (Spoiler-Free)

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn | Written by James Gunn, Dan Abnett | Directed by James Gunn

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The rag-tag crew of the Milano is back as Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 blasts its way into theaters this weekend and fans of the original will not be disappointed in this fun sequel.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2  continues the team’s adventures throughout the galaxy but this time Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his merry crew are caught off-guard when Quill’s dad, Ego (Kurt Russell), finds Quill after decades of searching for his son that he abandoned on Earth.  Despite Quill’s excitement and new relationship with his father, not everything is on the “up and up” with Ego as plans for universal domination is in the mix and the Guardians are the only ones that can stop his madness and save the galaxy…again.

Quill and his crew not only have to battle Ego but along the way, the Guardians are chased and hunted by Yondu’s (Michael Rooker) Ravagers and also by a scientifically perfect race of gold aliens, the Sovereign and their queen Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), after Rocket steals some precious resources from their planet.  The Guardians expand their ranks this film by adding the first film’s villain, Nebula (Karen Gillan), Ego’s personal assistant, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Yondu’s right hand man Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and a few others to the team and the additions allow the sequel to experiment with hilarious interactions that makes this film one of the best comedies of the year.

The Good:

  • The original Guardians of the Galaxy crew: Whether it’s Quill, the warrior Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the always literal Drax (Dave Bautista), the angry Rocket (Bradley Cooper) or the new and improved Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), each of the original members have moments to shine in the film.  One of my few complaints on the original film was the amount of exposition that was delivered quickly and in high volumes to the audience but in hindsight, this actually was a positive for the audience.  James Gunn doesn’t have to spend time in the sequel on the motivations or backstories of each of the Guardians since their intentions are already known by the audience.  The crew is thrown into a battle over the opening credits, possibly the greatest opening credits in any film, and the sequel never let its foot off the gas pedal.
  • Stan Lee’s cameo: I will not spoil it but it is amazing for comic book purists.
  • The CGI: Rocket and Groot stole the show in the original film as they turned possible CGI disasters into the most fun and emotionally balanced characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  None of this would have worked in the original if the CGI were sub-par (it wasn’t) but the CGI department made the sequel even more beautiful and fleshed out than even the giant ape in Kong: Skull Island from earlier this year.  Ego’s home planet and the rest of the universe is vast and beautiful and there is not one item of CGI that would make the audience give pause.
  • The Universe:  I may have an issue with too many characters in the film (see below) but the universe that James Gunn has created in this franchise is nothing less than spectacular.  I equated the first Guardians film to the original Star Wars and Vol. 2 only expands on this idea.  Gunn has made a galaxy of hundreds of new alien races, planets and technology that the audience would be thrilled to see in future installments or even in spinoffs of minor characters.

The Bad:

  • Nothing.

The Middling:

  • Too many characters:  The one issue most superhero sequels have in common is the studios desire to make every film into a franchise which causes the filmmakers to insert characters into films earlier than they naturally should be included.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is no different.  The audience will be introduced to a gluttony of characters and at times, it feels like the film is more worried about setting up for the third and final film in the franchise than fleshing out a few of the newer characters.  Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russel are just a few of the actors that join the fun this time and while the audience will feel like they have always been part of this universe, but at times the film tends to feel overloaded on characters that we barely get to know.
  • Ego:  Russell does an admirable and at times, great, job as Quill’s dad but the general audience that is not familiar with the character in the comic book may have a hard time following what Ego truly represents in this film. While Marvel finally has a villain that rivals Loki in terms of depth and though Gunn does a magnificent job making Ego a completely different villain than any other before him, the final battle is just…weird. Weird does not mean it’s bad, it’s just different.  Since this is a non-spoiler review, I won’t spoil any secrets of Ego but the audience has never seen superheroes battle this entity in any previous films.

Final Grade: B+ (Very good and at times great)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ranks just below Captain America: The Winter Soldier for the best sequel to a Marvel film and upon repeated viewings may even surpass that classic film.  Gunn knows this niche of the Marvel Universe and he is at home making loveable unknowns into household names.  The film is a fun ride and is actually more hilarious and action packed than the original film.  Marvel is moving towards a more “cosmic” universe in their future films and despite the galaxy becoming weirder, the future of the Marvel Universe can only benefit from films, like Vol. 2, that offer a whole new perspective on what “comic book movies” can truly become in this industry.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps.  You can listen to their latest episode right here
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