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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Kevthewriter weighs in on the latest Marvel movie.  Warning: His review contains spoilers!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was a bit of a gamble, as it was a movie about an obscure team that not many people outside of major comic book fans knew of directed by a guy that has somewhat of a cult following but not someone whose exactly a household name. However, when it hit theaters, it became an instant phenomenon and now the shoe is on the other foot as its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Yet reviews so far have been kind’ve mixed, with people either thinking it’s mediocre to okay or people outright loving it. Where do I stand on the matter?

For the most part, the technical credits are good. The cinematography is great, being the most beautiful looking of all of the MCU’s films, with colors that really pop off the screen. The sets and costumes, in addition, are gorgeous. I also like that there is more creativity given to the alien designs. One thing I didn’t care for in the first film is that most of the “aliens” just looked like regular human beings or regular human beings painted with a different color who had weird hair or were dressed in an eccentric manner. While there are still aliens like that in this movie, there are other aliens that they really put more effort into looking weird and, well, alien-like.

The 70’s music sets a good tone for the scenes they’re in, as they really fit. I also loved that, unlike the first film, they kept the soundtrack going until the end credits were finished. What bothered me a little bit about the first film was that, for a movie that had a lot of 70’s songs playing throughout the whole thing, the credits just played the orchestral score and didn’t play another 70’s song. Thankfully, though, they rectified that and had 70’s songs (and a 70’s sounding song sung by David Hasselhoff) playing over the end credits.

The humor mostly works. The tape scene went on a little too long and started feeling like a gag out of Family Guy but, other than that, it was a pretty funny film, including Yondu’s Mary Poppins line. Stan Lee also gets a hilarious cameo that actually kind’ve mocks his appearances in other Marvel flicks. The running gag of Mantis finding Rocket cute was also kind’ve funny because, let’s be honest, most of were thinking it. I mean, come on, his captain’s chair has a booster seat! A booster seat! In addition, the action scenes, though there are fewer than there were in the first film, are a lot of fun.

The acting is pretty good for the most part. Kurt Russell, in addition, is very charming and, through his performance alone, makes Ego one of the more compelling MCU villains, even if his plan and the whole character arc around him is a little cliche. Vin Diesel also disguises his voice very well as Baby Groot, to the point where, if you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t even know it was him. Also, with the exception of maybe Sylvester Stallone, the supporting cast is better utilized than it was in the first film. Unlike the first one, which had celebrities like Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, and Dijmon Hounsou play parts that anyone could’ve played, most of the minor roles are played by unknowns or if they do have celebrities playing small roles, it’s just a quick, cute little cameo and nothing more. The only possible exception, again, is Sylvester Stallone but, hopefully, their good on their word that they’ll give him more to do in the 3rd movie.

The best parts of this movie, however, are Yondu and, to a lesser extent, Rocket. No, not Baby Groot. Yes, he’s cute but they are much more compelling characters.

Yondu’s arc works because we get to know more about him, what Peter really means to him, and how he became the scruffy guy we got to know today. When he joins The Guardians, I started to really root for him and, while I didn’t cry, I’ll admit that I got emotional when he sacrificed himself to save the team.

Now on to the crabby puppy. Like the first movie, it is a lot of fun to see Rocket use his technological and tactical skills, as well as his animal skills and short size, to his advantage. This can definitely be seen in a scene where he has to guard the ship from The Ravagers and ends up getting in a big battle where he fights all The Ravagers one by one himself and uses his skills to defeat them. However, the movie also gives him some nice development, as it gives him a nice emotional arc that deals with him realizing how his tragic past caused him to be such a jerk in the first place. Yet, it does kind’ve feel like his arc needed a little more time spent on but what’s there is very good.

That being said, aside from some of the humor, Yondu and Rocket’s subplot are about the best thing in the script.

The big problem with the movie is that it tries to cram in too much in one movie. There are characters (like The Sovereign and Sylvester Stallone’s character) who feel like they are just there mostly so they can be in the sequels.

This can also be seen in that they try to give all the guardians sub plots but, because they are trying to build up a sequel, tell a story about Peter, and give a sub plot to each of The Guardians, it feels like some of the plots are better written than others. While Rocket and Yondu’s sub plot may be well done (moreso Yondu than Rocket), the movie also tries giving Drax and Gamora subplots where Drax befriends Mantis, a slave on Ego’s ship, and Gamora has to deal with her sister that feel underdeveloped because, seeing as there is so much going on in the movie, there’s little time to really expand on them. What also doesn’t help is that Gamora also has to participate in a romantic sub plot with Quill that doesn’t go anywhere.

The special effects are surprisingly inconsistent. Rocket and Groot look good as always and there are some beautiful CGI shots but there are also some awful looking shots where it is obvious that the actors are standing in front of a green screen. Not only that but some of the SFX looks like it came straight out of the 90’s, including a scene where Ego uses root or tentacle-like things to try to destroy other planets or a spacesuit the team uses to be able to breathe into space that looks really cartoony and fake. I was really surprised at how bad some of the SFX looked as the special effects in the MCU usually looks good.

The pacing is also off, as there are times where the pacing for the film is fast while, other times, it’s rather slow and tedious moving.

Therefore, what did I think of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2?

It’s a bit of a disappointment but it’s not a bad movie by any means necessary. It’s a rather hit and miss film that tries to cram in a lot and some of it works while other parts don’t. That being said, it’s not the worst of the MCU and who knows? I wasn’t particularly a big fan of the first one the first time I saw it but I’ve grown to love it the more I watched it. Maybe if I see it again, I’ll appreciate it more but I’m not in a hurry to see it again anytime soon.

Still better than Suicide Squad though. It’s definitely got that going for it.

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Posted on May 11, 2017, in Movies, reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. My reaction was very different from yours. I wasn’t disappointed at all. While I don’t think the sequel could match the first movie for originality (a problem inherent in sequels), I thought it was on par with the first Guardians in just about every other way. It’s funnier. It’s more colorful. The story is looser which would be a bigger problem for me if it wasn’t so darned entertaining. I would rank GotG 2 as one of the best of the Marvel movies behind Winter Soldier, the first GotG and maybe the first Avengers movie. Probably somewhere in my top 5.

    Also, Baby Groot was one of the highlights of the movie. 😉

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    • kevthewriter

      To be fair, I never he said he wasn’t exactly. Also, like I said, maybe I’d appreciate it more if I saw it again in the future.

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  2. daffystardust

    I shared your feeling that the movie was a bit overstuffed. I enjoyed myself while I was watching it. The action was fun, there were excellently loopy sci-fi concepts and characters, and there were some genuinely funny moments.

    This time around, though, I found myself a little annoyed by some of the writing. They appear to have designed themselves a cast full of characters who say exactly what’s on their minds as a path around actual character development and it results in very little subtlety in how the plot develops at times. I’m generally tired of half the characters in movies nowadays written as brashly rude and then being expected to find it charming or funny. Maybe it was funny the first time I encountered such a person, but at this time I can’t remember when that was and it’s just tiresome. More often it strikes me as lazy writing.

    I did enjoy the Sovereign, though, and I hope we get to see them pop up more from time to time in the future. Obviously, it looks like they’re going to be connected with the origin of Adam Warlock, which means they could be key to the next Avengers movie. That’s a good thing.

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    • kevthewriter

      Fair enough, you make good points. Only thing is, I’m not sure I agree were supposed to find the character’s rudeness charming. Maybe with Drax but a lot of time it was presented as an actual problem that Rocket was so rude to everyone else and it was shown that he was driving his friends/teammates away from him because of it, which was not presented as a good thing in the movie but something he needed to change about himself.

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      • daffystardust

        That is true about Rocket. To be honest my comment took a turn I was not expecting. The thing is: Rocket says what’s on his mind because he’s a jerk. Drax says what’s on his mind because he doesn’t get social conventions. Groot only says “I am Groot.” Mantis says what’s on her mind because she’s socially inexperienced. Nebula is pretty much a one-note anger/resentment character. And even with their “unspoken” thing that really isn’t unspoken, neither Quill or Gamora is a study in subtlety otherwise. There’s just so much subtext as text in this movie that it got on my nerves in a way that it didn’t in the first movie.

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    • I found myself getting a bit tired of Drax who was funny, but kind of one note. For me, he was the weakest link this time around. There were a couple too many scenes of Drax saying something outrageous or pointing and laughing too hard. It didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, but I wish they had found something more for him to do.

      From what I read, Adam Warlock won’t make his debut until Guardians 3 after the next Avengers movie. Gunn introduced a lot of concepts (like the Ravagers team that is basically the original Guardians) that he clearly plans to play with later. He said he had a draft of the GotG 2 script which had Adam Warlock in it, but found it had one too many characters and cut him to make room for Mantis. That is probably a good thing. It allows for more breathing room when they finally do introduce Warlock.

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      • kevthewriter

        Like I said, that’s what kinda disappointed me about the movie was that they tried giving everyone arcs but only 1/2 the arcs really worked, IMO, with Drax and Mantis’s relationship feeling rather underdeveloped. Hopefully, with Peter’s story pretty much done, they’ll give him more to do. I have heard that Gamora’s going to be the focus in the next one so maybe next time, with Peter more in the background, they’ll find something for him to do.

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        • The Drax/Mantis arc was the only one that felt off to me. I enjoyed Quill and Ego, Yondu and Quill, Nebula and Gamora, Rocket and Yondu and Quill and Gamora. Like I said before, the structure was pretty loose, but I was having too much fun to grouse about that. Mostly, I laughed a lot. When I wasn’t laughing, I was marveling at the pretty pictures on the screen and once or twice I was moved. I probably went in with lower expectations than you did, but on the whole I was very pleasantly surprised by the sequel.

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  3. Fresh out of seeing it, I stated that it was about 90% as good as the first, but upon further reflection, I like it even more than that. Perusing the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores shows that it’s not quite as mixed as you may think. An 81% RT score and a 70% Metacritic lean much more towards the positive side. While i did miss Drax’s literal thinking from the first film, I didn’t feel the relationship with mantis was underdeveloped. They just met. Relationships of any kind often take time to develop. That seemed completely natural to me. I kind of loved the movie. it was fun, beautiful, and touching – a perfect way to kick off the summer. I hope WONDER WOMAN and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING can further deliver on the summer comic book goodness.

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    • About the reviews, I guess that leans more on the positive side but I’ve read and/or watched the reviews and many of the critics, from the reviews I’ve seen, seem to be a little mixed on it. Audiences seem to have enjoyed it a lot more though.

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      • It’s currently tied with Ant-Man for the 7th highest RT score of the MCU. 10% lower than the original, which isn’t bad for a sequel. The user ranking is 90% approval which compares very well with the first movie’s 92%. I would describe that as a positive reaction overall.

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    • So far, it’s been a pretty great year for superhero movies. If you like dark, violent mutants, Logan was very well done. Lego Batman was the opposite of that, but also a lot of fun. And GotG 2 was a very strong sequel. Fingers crossed for WW and Spidey.

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