Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kurt Russell, Ego, Star Lord, Chris Pratt, Drax, Dave Bautista, Mantis

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) *The Weirdest, Coolest Family Dramedy Ever*

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Guardians of the Galaxy was the biggest surprise of the first two phases of the MCU, so it’s shouldn’t be a huge surprise that James Gunn took your expectations for where the stacefaring group may go next and stood them on their head.  For all the amazing special F/X, Guardians 2 is a much smaller, character-driven movie than the first one was.  It is undoubtedly Star Lord’s (Chrs Pratt) film, closing questions on his origin in the first film that will give birth to conflicts sure to pop up for the survivors of Infinity War.  In the end, though, this film is about family.  Not the families we’re born into, but the families we cobble together out of the people who share our mutual life damage and how they can be as strong and weird and wonderful as any biological bond.  It’s a funny (probably funnier overall than the first film), screwball sci-fi family dramedy that makes issue #15 of the MCU as fresh as the first.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ego, Star Lord, Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell

It’s my policy with MCU reviews to keep them as spoiler-free as possible.  I’m going to try here, but one way in which we are just going massive spoilers is that I’ve included a video at the bottom that explains exactly what all FIVE credits sequences mean and their potential for the future of the Guardians franchise.  James Gunn has signed on and is already writing the third film, which will take place after Avengers 4 (and obviously we don’t know who is making it through that).  This film takes place approximately about four years before Infinity War, so our team may look very different even than when we leave them at movie’s end (this is your ONE film with Baby Groot….that’s made clear).  The first Guardians movie kind of kept to its mission of opening the cosmic universe, but it had ties to Thanos and the overall MCU storyline.  This film is perhaps the most isolated film with the exception of Iron Man 3.  I was expecting some advancement and set up of the plot of Infinity War, but this is a self-contained sequel to the first film.  We know Spider-Man Homecoming isn’t going to set things up, and Thor: Ragnarok could, but clearly there’s a lot afoot in Asgard, so that just leaves Black Panther before Infinity War.  Are we going into this thing cold?  It’s beginning to look like Avengers 3 may be the set up and Avengers 4 the real war.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Star Lord, Rocket

After a spectacular, and hilarious, opening set piece, in which the Guardians royally irritate a group of beings called The Sovereign (who may figure VERY prominently in future Guardians films), they are rescued by Peter’s father: Ego (Kurt Russell).  Telling you who or what exactly Ego is would be gigantic spoilers especially for Marvel nerds, but suffice it to say that he’s a much more complex and daunting character than they made Ronan out to be in the first film.  While Peter is dealing with his literal daddy issues, the other members of the team have subplots that take place while the team spends the majority of the film on Ego’s world.

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We’re introduced to Ego’s….pet, Mantis.  Mantis is…..awesome.  She’s one of my favorite Guardians in the comics and as an empath quite useful to the team, and forms an extremely funny bond with Drax (can I say Dave Bautista, who I was the most nervous about of any of the cast going into the first film, nearly steals this movie).  Never has Drax’s inability to filter his speech or comprehend any sort of subtext or metaphors, combined with his shotgun bluntness been put to better use.  He’s oddly segued into team morale officer.

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Also joining the team are Nebula…well, she’s more of a prisoner en route to the Nova Corps for her crimes, but common enemies force her to deal with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the sisters work out some of their lethal issues.  Gamora has far less screen time in the film than in the first; really everyone but Star Lord does, and that’s a consequence of it being his movie as opposed to the ensemble piece the first film was.  Rounding out the expanded roster is Yondu (Michael Rooker) who finds himself cast out of the Ravagers (in a mind-blowing star cameo moment) for reasons pertaining to his relationship with Ego.

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Russell and Pratt are a very believable father/son duo and their arc is the centerpiece of the film.  My favorite Peter moment in the film comes when Ego makes a rather shocking revelation and Peter’s response is so fast and so Peter that you lose any worries you may have developed that Star Lord was going to be swayed. He is the heart of this family, and he comes to realize over the course of the film that the family he already wanted, he already has.

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Rocket is in a grumpy place in this film.  He makes a tiny…little…misjudgment that starts an interstellar war and takes some flak for that.  He’s constantly running around after Baby Groot, who has grown from twig at the end of Guardians to Baby Groot (and that’s really the only way I can describe a toddler sentient plant being).  Whereas Groot was the wisest of the team in the first film, he’s easily now, though he’s trying, the dimmest.  This has been pressaged in the “DO NOT TOUCH THE DEATH BUTTON” scene that slew audiences in the trailers.

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Following Peter’s break with Ego, he becomes one of the more powerful villains in the MCU, and the third act of the film is the eight Guardians joining forces to survive and then go their separate ways, not all in ways you’d expect.  The scope of the plot is much smaller than the first film, and there’s not the magic of meeting these wonderful characters (aside from Mantis) for the first time, but why not have a film where you take these characters and beef them up, explore their relationships, get to know them as well as we do the Avengers.  After all, we’ve had five or six films with each of them, and we’re only going to have two with these guys going into the showdown with Thanos.  I think Guardians 2 falls just short of the original, but only by a hair, and is another fantastic entry in the MCU’s stable of super hero classics.

9.50/10

EXTREEEEEEEEEEME SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DO NOT TOUCH THE DEATH BUTTON OF SPOILERS UNTIL AFTER THE FILM!

6 thoughts on “Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) *The Weirdest, Coolest Family Dramedy Ever*”

  1. Awesome movie, awesomely good spirited, best MCU villain by far, and I will miss Baby Groot. A lot. I thought that Yondu stole the movie, along with his arrow (coolest sequence of all time, you know which one I mean) and I got emotional at the end. In life the journey needs to be prioritized over the destination, and one of the reasons is that we don’t really know who will be with us when we reach our goals. We can only be certain of the people who surround us in the here and now.

    I actually thought this was every bit as good as the first one. It was a sequel, yet had the focused nature of an origin story (like Doctor Strange). Like every movie of its kind these days it pitched the kitchen sink at me, and yet it felt comparatively restrained, with pacing that was dictated more by the dramatic scenes and character moments than the action.

    It’s important that Disney/Marvel makes some films like this, and (apparently) Homecoming. It can’t all be in the service of a larger story. There is something to be said for letting the characters breathe, and shine for the sake of shining. When you’re working on a canvas that will eventually be fifty films big, you can afford to take detours.

    The Spider-Man trailer connected with me, and now I am sold on that film. In fact, I don’t know what was wrong with me before. Long live the MCU.

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  2. Late to this review, which I really appreciate reading nowadays, in light of what I feel is a lot of sudden, current Vol. 2 hate. Sure, it’s not surprise lightning in a bottle, but it wasn’t going to be, and it’s an awesome sequel. Idk what kind of plot people wanted, chasing another Infinity Stone or fighting the Sovereign for two hours? That would’ve bored me. What worked most for me in the first movie were the characters, so I’m very happy with the direction Gunn took in beefing them up in the second. However, I have a minor disagreement on what you said about Gamora’s screentime. I loved her in the first movie but I think she had a better arc in Vol. 2. In Vol. 1 her heel-turn was more tell than show, and her subplot with Nebula left me wanting. Well, I got that and then some in Vol. 2! It was really awesome to see two female characters duking it out in OTT comic book fashion like dudes usually get to, then having a heart-to-heart that felt natural and provided a nice parallel to Peter and Yondu’s arc.

    The only thing that I think could have elevated this movie to Vol. 1 status, at least in my eyes, would be to trim about 5 minutes of the running gags like Taserface and use those minutes for longer stuff in the third act – Peter’s mask breaking should have been more of a big deal, and I would’ve liked to see more of Ego and Peter fighting each other. But all told, that’s about it. If my only complaint about a movie is that a few jokes should’ve been cut, that’s a really good movie. I walked into this one hoping for a good time, family drama, good music, and emotions, and I got what I wanted. So far, to me, this sub-franchise in the MCU seems like it’ll be the most cohesive trilogy because of Gunn and co being there in every movie. In fact, pretty much the only characters I care about going into Infinity War are the Guardians (ok a couple Avengers too like Tony and Bruce.) I will be sad when the gang’s journey ends in Vol. 3 but I’m looking forward to it all the same. Excellent review.

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    1. Marie, thanks so much for the comment, and you’re probably right about Gamora. That’s one of the things about writing reviews. It’s your first impression, and it changes over time. I think Gunn has such a great handle on this part of the MCU. I think they’ll do an amazing job in 3, and I wish they were staying to do more. The team, though, rotates constantly in the comics, and Gunn has been introducing a lot of the characters seeding future installments that he might not even be working on, but finding someone who gets it as well as he does, will be a challenge. Marvel, though, has a great ability to find the right director you’d have never thought of for films, and their casting has been pretty flawless. Guardians is going to continue past 3, but it’ll be different, just like a whole lot of change is coming to the MCU. Marvel’s going to be challenged to make this sustainable by surviving this transition, but I think they can do it.

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