a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 musing
The first GUARDIANS film came in 2014 and blew everyone’s minds, and while this movie doesn’t live up to the first, it doesn’t need to. Revisiting this flawed family will always be a fun time because writer-director James Gunn has a great handle on each character and their relationships with each other. Although the movie doesn’t find its footing until the second half, the culmination of everything that was set up was magnificent, beautiful and heartbreaking. That alone made VOLUME 2 an excellent installation in the MCU.
The opening credits was one of the most genius and no-brainer decisions made, as we follow Baby Groot dancing and getting into adorable antics, while the rest of the Guardians battle a giant monster. It’s cute, charming and probably boosted their toy sales. Those sales will be through the roof for the next few months, since every single one of Baby Groot’s moments is perfectly timed and hilarious. Not all of the other characters’ jokes work; plenty of jokes fall flat, especially when following a dramatic moment. What Gunn is going for is commendable, but could be cleaned up by just letting the moment breathe, strengthening the emotional impact of certain parts. There do seem to be a lot of extraneous scenes, moments that go on too long, too many subplots going on. It could be tightened up even further, but what you do get with all that are really important character moments.
*SPOILERS FOR THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS*
The dynamics between everyone in our favorite Guardian crew is incredible, and Gunn lets that propel the story, rather than a second-rate villain. It’s refreshing in that way, and once the actual villain is revealed, it’s heartbreaking because we’ve followed Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, duh) and seen how he’s been affected by not having a father. He cheesily plays catch with Ego (Kurt Russell, playing, yes, a planet) and it’s endlessly charming. When Ego tells Peter his plan, he doesn’t come off as a lame bad guy because his intentions are communicated very well and understandable. You can tell Russell is having such a fun time in this role, eating up every scene he can, bounding from mark to mark with such energy and being maniacally charismatic. Whenever Peter and Ego have a confrontation, Pratt is so damn good with subtle facial acting, especially with his eyes.
The plotting of this whole movie is good, and we get ample time with every character in their respective pairings, which is exactly what a sequel should do. GUARDIANS 2, in certain moments, is just as fun when exploring more of these characters. Yondu (Michael Rooker) is given the best arc, as he is exiled by his own Ravager group, and attempts to do something good for once and redeem his name. He and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) have a great (if overlong) storyline, with an incredibly emotional outcome. The arc of the two sisters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), is a bit truncated and lost within the rest, and is probably the weakest of the bunch. Newcomer Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is amazingly paired with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista, who doesn’t do that much destroying…) to elicit the tragic nature of Drax’s past, while amplifying Bautista’s comedic skill. All the while, a group the Guardians helped in the opening scene, The Sovereign, led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), are sloppily forced into the story.
While GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 has its many flaws, I couldn’t stop smiling during the film’s quite long 136 minute runtime (with an extraordinary amount of unnecessary post-credit scenes). The story doesn’t come around until about midway, but its character beats lead to an exceptionally poignant final 45 minutes or so. It’s easier to overlook the problems when it’s just way too much fun to be with these characters again and enjoy the feeling that washes over.
RATING: BEST OF THE BEST
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)