Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sequel to the Marvel Cinematic Universe break out hit from 2014. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff all have starring roles, with Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan and Kurt Russell all heavily featured through out the film.
The first film was built around five strangers coming together and becoming a team to survive. Guardians 2 continues that theme by doubling down and having the team discover what it truly means to not just be a team, but to be a family. James Gunn has been quoted as saying in the lead-up to the release of Guardians Vol 2, that family plays a huge role in this film.
And this could not have been any more true, as the relationships between characters feels a lot tighter in this film as opposed to other entries in the MCU. We get to sink our teeth into the toxic sisterly relationship of Gamora and Nebula, the genetic bond of father and son between Peter and Ego, and the after effects of the loss of family Drax suffered at the hands of Thanos and Ronan.
As it was always expected to be, Guardians Vol 2 is an absolute riot of laughs. From the opening credits scene all the way until the final post credits scene, there are laughs from bell to bell. Some of the biggest laughs are reserved for the surprise favourite from the first film, Drax. While his understanding of how the universe works has evolved, as has his sense of humour, we still get that naive, vulnerable character that was Drax the Destroyer. The recurring theme of family throughout the film gave Dave Bautista room to explore the demise of Drax’s family, and in a touching scene with Mantis, he reveals the most emotional range of all the Guardians in this film.
The biggest MVP of the film, however, is actually Michael Rooker as Yondu. It’s fairly well known that Yondu becomes the victim of a mutiny, and out of necessity, he is forced to team with the Guardians. What was not revealed, however, is that the overlying theme of family is also a heavy part of Yondu’s arc, as he is forced to deal with repercussions of his actions pre-Guardians, and all the way up to his first appearance in the film. Rooker puts on the best performance in the film, and has the most satisfying journey in the movie.
Chris Pratt shines here as Peter Quill, with that quick wit getting quicker, and his asshole-ish charisma on full display. His interactions with Kurt Russel as Ego were all fantastic, and you could honestly feel the father/son connection straight off the bat. Pom Klementieff is another standout in this film as Mantis. She’s cute, funny and easily has my favourite arc through out the film. Her bond with Drax in the film is something I can only assume will be explored more throughout the next Guardians films, as well as possibly during Avengers: Infinity War.
The heavily merchendisable Baby Groot and Rocket also had incredibly strong showings in the film. In a universe with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Spider-Man, who would ever have thought a tree that says three words would be one of the most popular MCU characters so far? And in no surprise to anyone, Groot gets some of the best scenes in the film. Rocket’s arc is the most complex arc of any character inside the MCU. The recurring them of family throughout the film also extends to Rocket, with the theme of not knowing his place in the universe extending from the first film into Guardians 2.
While there are praises I can sing about almost every character, there is one that was quite disappointing. While I enjoyed Zoe Saldana’s performance as Gamora, Gunn and his script really let down her character. While everyone stands up both individually and in their respective grouping, Gamora is severely let down on an individual level. The only time she is really able to shine on screen is when she’s going back and forth with Peter, or adding depth into her relationship with Nebula. Speaking of Nebula, Karen Gillan was a personal favourite of mine from the first movie, and her simple desire for revenge becomes incredibly complex.
The film has an incredible visual palette. Ego’s planet is simply gorgeous. Our first look at the outskirts of the galaxy where Yondu and his exiled Ravengers team hang out is also stunning, using a lot of deep colours. Even the home planet of Ayesha’s Sovereign is dripped in gold and bold colours. The best description I can give is akin to the Capital from The Hunger Games. Every world has a distinct look, and the colours play a major role in distinguishing these planets and worlds.
As it is in the first film, the second is supported by a strong soundtrack, with Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass and Father and Son by Cat Stevens all playing heavily into the plot of the film. The films credit sequence even features an original song, written by Gunn and film composer Tyler Bates, with Rolling Stone magazine saying about the track “(it’s) meant as a sort of Guardians take on Meco’s disco Star Wars theme.” The song is called Guardians Inferno, and hilariously features David Hasslehoff as the lead vocalist.
I’m going to go into spoilery territory now, so unless you’ve seen the film, skip to below the spoiler section.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a bright, vibrant film with heart. Almost every character in the film has a satisfying arc, and the overlying theme of family is throughout the film and bled into every single character arc. I’m incredibly excited to see these characters match up with the Earth bound heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, and to see the final part of the James Gunn trilogy in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.
Myself, as well as a few other contributors will be breaking down the film in an upcoming episode of PPN’s SpoilerCast podcast, so if you’re not subscribed on iTunes or on Android apps, follow us at ATGN & Pixel Pop Network so you can be up to date with all our PPN related podcasts!