Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2

I don’t think I reviewed the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but quick version, I loved it. It was an absolutely delightful movie. It was funny, had heart, had a pretty straight forward plot, and didn’t feel rushed.

This sequel is a lot different. The characters are more developed. The plot is fairly simple, overall, but there was a lot of unnecessary stuff. Some of it was well executed, and some of it wasn’t. As always, I’ll warn you before I get into spoilers.

So right off the bat, Groot makes this movie. He was funny in the first movie, but in this movie, every scene with him in it is great. Yondu returns in a much larger role from the first one, and has the most character development. Drax has more scenes, but is more of the “shouldn’t be a joke, which makes it funny” shtick. Rocket is more of the same. Gamora and Nebula are in it to really hammer the overall theme of the movie into the ground. Peter Quill (Star-Lord) takes a pretty significant backseat in the movie. Like he’s in a lot of the movie, but doesn’t really do much.

The villains in this movie are either comically bad, or are convinced they are right, when they do bad things, which makes the villains seem more realistic, and almost terrifying. It’s easy to portray a villain as Hitler, and obviously evil. It’s much more difficult to make one seem normal, rational, and then turn out really monstrous, without feeling guilty.

As far as pacing is concerned, there are basically two story lines that start off together, separate for the bulk of the movie, then rejoin for the finale. One of the story lines (family) is excruciatingly long. Like, I get that the whole point of the movie is about FAMILY. But that’s all this movie is about. The second story line is sort of a prison escape like a part of the first movie, except this one was a lot more entertaining, and honestly, had more heart. It allowed you to see characters who didn’t really interact in the first one, interact, and put them in interesting situations. As apposed to the FAMILY plot line that just hit you over the head and tried to drown you in itself. FAMILY.

Visually, this movie looks a lot like Doctor Strange. I don’t know if someone at Marvel just found the concept of “color” or what. There’s a lot of colors. Lots of them. Particularly the planet Ego, which is basically what I imagine taking acid is like. It’s how I assume Ozzy Osbourne’s fried mind sees the world. There are bright colors, and weird shapes, and more colors.

Spoilers Beyond This Point.

The movie starts up long enough after the first movie, that the Guardians feel more like a FAMILY. They bicker, they anticipate each other’s moves, and they work together. They have been hired by these gold people to protect some batteries from a space squid… blah. I’m bored already. Baby Groot. Just like the first movie had Star-Lord dancing during the opening credits, this movie has Baby Groot doing it, and Oh. My. Fucking. God, it’s adorable. You’ve got Groot (basically acting like a three year old human throughout the movie) dancing along this stage platform, while the rest of the Guardians get their asses handed to him. It’s a lovely scene and I love Baby Groot.

The gold people (The Sovereign) are the secondary villains. And they are terrible. They are basically parodies of villains. For instance, you could insert them into one of the Austin Powers movies, and they would have fit perfectly. They are supposed to be menacing, but are comically stupid. Even the actors had a hard time keeping straight faces. At a certain point, they’re all in these arcade game chairs and other gold people are watching them, as if it’s in a video game arcade. Even the sounds, are from an arcade. Everything about them is supposed to be “funny”, and it is, but it’s too forced, and has an almost amateurish movie vibe.

Then stuff happens, and Ego saves the Guardians from the Sovereign. Ego reveals that he is Star-Lord’s father, and they go off to his planet. When the first trailer revealed that Ego was Star-Lord’s father, I was worried that the movie company was pulling a Batman versus Superman, and spoiling the movie. In this case, Guardians 1 built up the secret of Peter’s father. He’s an angel. He’s ancient. But Guardians 2 just went straight into it. No suspense. Just here you go. Let’s move on.

Ego doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He’s a sentient planet, who takes the human form of Kurt Russell. So far so good. He’s basically a god, and can control matter. After billions of years, he decides that he wants to reproduce, so he goes from planet to planet planting seeds and “planting seeds (if you know what I am talking about *wink*wink*)”. So far so good. Kind of. Then they say that Peter is the first of his children who can control the “light”. And if you are asking yourself “what’s the light?”, well, so am I. I thought Ego was the center of the planet. But he gets his power from this light? That is his brain? And Peter kind of can control the light. Which is not Ego’s brain? I’m not sure how this works. I just figured, this has a talking tree, so fuck logic. He wants to bond with his father and they literally play catch with a ball of light. Because FAMILY. That’s pretty much it for Star-Lord. Like he’s in the rest of the movie, but nothing really important happens with him. Stuff happens NEAR him, but not with him.

Meanwhile, while Peter is learning how to be a lightbender with his dad, Gamora is fighting with her sister Nebula. Because FAMILY. I’m going to skip most of it. But Nebula sort of wins some compassion from the audience, and the two of them become sisters again. Here’s the thing that kind of made me laugh, but it shouldn’t have. Nebula (Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan) is a giant. She’s just shy of 6 feet tall, 4 of those feet are her legs. Gamora (my nerd crush, Zoe Saldana) is 5 foot 7. There’s a moment where, even though Gamora is wearing heels (because it’s a comic book movie, so of course super hero women fight in heels) Nebula has to bend down to an awkward degree to hug Gamora. It was like Shaq hugging a child.

Drax says mean things to new character Mantis. Mantis is just as oblivious to sarcasm as Drax. Hi jinks ensue, though it makes Drax come off as a complete asshole, and Mantis as a puddle that must be jumped on.

Clear across the galaxy, the fun part of the movie resides. Here, Groot and Rocket are trying to fix the ship. Yondu and his band of merry pirates are hired by the gold people to capture the Guardians. Yondu feels feelings, so doesn’t want to kill them. In turn, one of his minions takes over, and everyone is arrested. This leads to not only some more adorable moments with Groot, but also actual character development. Especially with Yondu. I won’t reveal it all, but he goes from just a blue guy in the first movie, to a really important person in the FAMILY of the second movie. He bonds with Rocket, because they are very similar. Groot does adorable things.

They escape and it’s time to bring everyone together for the final act. Oh. Side note, in order to get to Ego, Groot et al., need to “jump” through these honey comb portals. First of all, these aren’t in the first movie, so they come out of no where, and aren’t explained. I think they only exist so that Director James Gunn could use some cheesy Snapchat filters on the characters. So stupid. I mean, it was funny the first time, but after the same joke was used three or four times, it got old. That’s kind of a problem with this movie. Some of the jokes are repeated over and over again, to the point of being awkwardly bad.

Ok. So everyone’s together. It turns out that Ego has been killing his children to take their power, so he can spread his goo over all of these planets. I’m still not sure what his ultimate goal was. He wanted to reproduce… via light goo? Anyway, they have to fight Ego. Star-Lord turns into Pac-Man, because, fuck it, why not. Lasers are shot. Things blow up. From this point on, it’s your typical space movie.

Then there are post credit scenes, because James Gunn wants to see how many bladders will burst. I swear, I had to use the restroom an hour into the movie, but didn’t want to miss anything. Then I had to stay for all of the hidden scenes. I mean, the end credits were kind of interesting. You had an 80s feel to it, and periodically, a credit would read “I am Groot”, and then be “translated” to “Vin Diesel as Groot” or whatever. That was mildly amusing, but after the 8th time, I just kind of zoned out. There were five post credit scenes. Not back to back. So it was like credit scene, credits, credit scene, more credits, and I really had to use the restroom.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad movie, but I would have liked more diversity of theme. The concept of FAMILY is so thick in this movie, that it’s overwhelmingly boring. Yondu and Rocket actually grow as characters. Cameos and easter eggs tie into the comics, because it’s Marvel. Groot steals the show. I give this 3 out of 5 stars.

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