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.