Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Movie Review

James Gunn convinced Marvel to make a different film, something with more humour, some badass superheroes and awesome 70s’ music. The resulting movie was called Guardians of the Galaxy, which was a very nice surprise for most comic-book film fans. This time around, the second entry (or Volume, as the title itself suggests) in this franchise has been released, with the very same crew and cast. Without watching any trailers or reading any reviews, I went to the theatre with moderate hope – to be honest, I didn’t expect much from it. Does it at least feel as fresh as its predecessor did? Let’s find out!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 goes deeper into the character of Star Lord (Crisp Rat Chris Pratt) as he struggles to find out more about his father. The rest of the Guardians will have much to do too, as Rocket has to take care of Baby Groot, Gamora faces her own sister Nebula, and Drax… Well, Drax is just a comic relief to be honest (and not a particularly good one).

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That’s probably one of the main issues with the movie: each character has something different to do, so they aren’t as much of a team as they used to be. They do have bombastic action scenes in the beginning and climax of the film, but throughout the runtime they spend quite a lot of time away from each other. Some of the arcs have a bigger role in the movie than others, too. For instance, Star Lord is clearly the star of this flick, while Drax and Gamora have very little to do or say. The latter, for example, is quite irrelevant for the majority of this sequel, and is at times limited to be nothing more than a hot-looking love interest for the protagonist. Chemistry among the team was one of the best features of the first film, so this is a pretty unfortunate change.

The characters themselves are quite cool, though. I liked Pratt’s character once again, and Rocket was a blast for most of the time. Baby Groot is the most adorable thing ever (probably), and has some great moments, such as the initial credit sequence in which he dances as the rest of the team battles a huge monster. In addition, Mantis, a new mind-reading character, is an interesting addition to the universe. However, as stated before, Gamora can merely be called a character, and Drax is limited to making terrible jokes that most of the time revolve around turds. Quite disgusting, if you ask me.

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In fact, that sense of humour has shifted a lot since the first volume, as even if the jokes are pretty similar, the way they work is completely different. What felt like something fresh and unusual during the previous movie, seems to be terribly forced now. Random puns that worked brilliantly have been replaced with unoriginal jokes that rarely go beyond the occasional chuckle. Sure, there are some funny moments every now and then, but the overall feeling is not very positive.

The same thing happens with the soundtrack. “Hey, people loved the old songs, let’s do the same thing again”. Sure, “Hooked on a feeling” and “Spirit in the sky” were great, but the selection is quite poor in this second volume of the mixtape, and the songs never enhance the scenes they are in. It seems the soundtrack was just an item more in the checklist, and they drew the tick without trying to actually achieve something with the music.

Having a Marvel logo in the beginning of a movie always is a seal of great visual effects, and damn, is that true. Together with Doctor Strange, this film features some of the finest CGI in the superhero sub-genre, and even if the approach Gunn takes is too reliant on computer-generated imagery, their top-notch quality sure does help. This film is a visually spectacular.

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You know I hate spoilers in reviews (unless explicitly stated in the post’s title as in the La La Land spoiler review), but I have the urge to explain a thing about the ending, which will be discussed in this paragraph only. If you haven’t watched the film yet, and do not want to know a major plot-point featured towards the end of the film, skip the following paragraph and go straight to the conclusion.

SPOILERS

You have been warned! Okay, so this is, as far as I can remember, the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which a non-villain character dies. After defeating the villain of the film, Star Lord’s god-dad, the protagonist realises it was Yondu who had been the only paternal figure he had. In order to save the hero, Yondu decides during the final minutes of the movie to give him the only spacesuit left as they both exit the atmosphere, dying as a result. This event is treated as a very important and dramatic moment for the characters, but simply put, doesn’t work. It’s cheesy, lazy and poorly told. Yondu has been a bad guy for the entirety of Volume 1 and the majority of Volume 2, it was him who kept Star Lord as a prisoner for most of his life and has definitely been portrayed as an antagonist all this time. This forced act of redemption sure isn’t enough to make us care. Having read a few critics say it was an emotional ending, I had to explain why I strongly disagreed.

End of spoilers

 

All in all, I’m afraid that this is a beautiful yet empty film. The humour is quite bad, the style is forced, soundtrack choices are poor, characters’ arcs are bland… There is not much beyond the joy found in exploding films. This is yet another average MCU flick that I will have forgotten in a week’s time. Gunn thought that mixing the very same ingredients used for cooking the first volume would be enough, but it wasn’t the jokes or the music what made the first adventure of the guardians great – it was its freshness, that feeling of innovation and uniqueness. The best part about it was the lack of template, and this second movie has one of the most obvious stencils in recent superhero flicks.

The one adjective that best describes it is “functional”. Yes, it works as a popcorn-munching experience, but goes nowhere beyond that. 5/10

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