Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is directed once again by James Gunn, bringing back Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord. Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Deisel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker as Yondu and Kurt Russell as Ego. This is the story about the Guardians team having some struggles as they meet both new and returning adversaries…or at least that’s what IMDb says. More or less, Peter Quill finds out more about his lost father, while the rest of the team does other things. All wrapping up in a nice bow after a total runtime of 2h 16m. Marvel is kicking off the summer movie season with a long one. So, let’s talk about it.
To start off with, I thought the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was one of Marvel’s better films. It was very different than anything else they’ve pumped out. It didn’t take itself too seriously, but had a fun telling its story. It worked for what it was, and I enjoyed it for what it was. Because of that, I was kind of excited for Guardians 2, maybe not to a point where I would go and see it in theatres, but see it eventually. That is until my uncle said he’d pay for my ticket, and I’m not about to turn down a free movie, no matter what it is. It should be noted that I’m not the biggest fan of Marvel films. I think they’re films are fine, but aren’t ever great…which is a discussion is for another time. Let’s start off with characters.
Peter Quill/Star-Lord is our main character again (no surprise there). Jumping right in, Guardians 2 did a good job at exploring his character on a deeper level. Especially when it gets to the relationship between him and his dad Ego. It explains where Ego has been all of Peter’s life, diving pretty deep into the father-son relationship theme, as well as other stuff that would be major spoilers. This was done very well. It asked some deep questions about what this relationship means and what it’s like to meet your father for the first time. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that this movie is about fathers, and family. Both in biological, and close friendship. The theme of family runs through the Guardian’s team.
Gamora and her sister, Nebula (returning from the first Guardians), even have a deep moment together where it explains why they are so distant. But this is the only deep moment for Gamora’s character. She kinda gets the short end of the stick, I felt. I didn’t really connect with her character at all, there wasn’t very much more development than whatever was done in Guardians 1. And maybe it’s because her entire character is told to us in that one. There was that trope of “everyone knows everything about you”. I do wish the movie explored her more, and went deeper than the distant sister relationship.
And the same goes for Rocket. They do have some development for him, basically every character has their moment, but I just wish they went deeper. His past is still kept a mystery, which is fine, but I want some more. Peter gets almost all of the spotlight, leaving little for his comrades. Although, between all of the side characters of the team (Gamora, Drax and Baby Groot), I felt that Rocket had the deepest development. There is a scene between Rocket and Yondu where Rocket’s past is touched on briefly, and a parallel is built between the racoon and Yondu, giving a lot more depth. And speaking of Yondu, I found him to be the most surprising character of the bunch. His character doesn’t do too much until the very end, but what he does is very fitting, and works very well with the context of the movie. He plays a very important role. I won’t get into specifics because spoilers, but I connected more with his character than anyone else in Guardians 2. It surprised me.
So what about Drax and Baby Groot? Well, they are more or less there for comic relief. There isn’t development on either of them, which is neither a detriment or a plus to the movie. They were funny, and brought the comic relief when they needed to. I guess I could have used some more exploration of Drax, but his character is already so cut and dry that it probably would have derailed the movie if they did. It’s almost unanimous that Baby Groot steals the show whenever he’s onscreen. The opening of Guardians 2 is him dancing around to the music while the rest of the team battles an alien in the background. Personally, I didn’t think everything he did was “show-stealing worthy”, but for what it was, it was funny and cute.
As for the comedy, it’s very hit or miss. I laughed a lot more in the first Guardians than I did here. At times the movie tried too hard to make the audience laugh, which resulted in it not being funny. The jokes were not ever cringe-worthy, just not very funny. Whether it be the comedic timing, or a joke we’ve seen a thousand times over already. That’s not to say the movie isn’t funny, because, at times, it is. A lot of the jokes just didn’t hit me. An example would be the climax. Rocket needs some tape (specifics as to what he needs the tape fore doesn’t matter here), so he gets Peters attention and asks if he has any, which he doesn’t. So, Peter flies around to every other member of the team asking them if they have tape. The scene isn’t too funny, and takes the joke farther than it needed to go to try and make it “funny”, but never too far to cringe-worthy levels.
As mentioned earlier, the father-son relationship theme was done very well. Guardians 2 asks a lot of interesting and deep questions. There are times where it asks a deep question, but then gives a shallow answer. I don’t want to spoil anything, but building to the climax is when a lot of these deep questions are being asked. But, regardless, the father-son relationship was explored pretty dang well, a lot better than I was expecting. I did find the crew is a family theme to be cliché. I think the Fast and Furious series ruined this because I’ve seen this played out in so many other movies that it’s just been overdone. It would be forgivable if Guardians 2 brought something else to the table that no other film with this family theme had. But it doesn’t. This isn’t explored as deep as the father-son theme, but it is a main plot point.
I think one of my bigger issues with Guardians 2 is its presentation of these themes and its message. They are very heavy handed, at times a slap in the face because of how obvious it is. There’s a scene after the climax where Peter spills the message in its entirety to the audience, leaving basically nothing for said audience to piece together for themselves. I like subtly in movies, I like to draw my own conclusions by the events in the film. Since Guardians 2 didn’t leave much for me to think about, so getting invested in the world of the movie became an issue. And with the themes Guardians 2 has, I wanted to be more into the film than I was. Maybe cutting some scenes to give it more subtly would help, Guardians 2 is already a long movie as it is. I liked the themes and message given, I just wish it didn’t outright tell me what it was. It’s like Guardians 2 was too afraid to take a risk in letting the audience draw their own conclusions about what the movie was saying, and told them what it was saying.
Guardians 2 is already 2 hours and 16 minutes, like I said, quite long. I didn’t find it to drag very much for it being so lengthy, I know people who have. But I don’t think that I would watch this movie very often because of its pacing. The opening with Baby Groot dancing and the action all happening behind him parallels the movie’s structure as a whole. It’s not about the action, it’s more about the characters. Not to say there is no action, because there is. But there are a couple of scenes that exist just so there can be something else other than talking. And what action there is, is good action. It’s filmed better than other action scenes in Marvel movies. But it just isn’t the main focus here.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is good. When it comes to a musical score, or cinematography, there isn’t anything special. Especially the music, it’s very basic, but what else is new for Marvel? The strongest thing in Guardians 2 is its themes. They take the film deeper than I thought it would go, which surprised me. Not all of the jokes made me laugh, some not even a smile, but at the same time they never went too far to make me cringe. This is a safe movie. I’ve found all of Marvel’s films to be rather shallow, and playing it very safe. Guardians 2 is a step in the right direction I think. It went deeper than I was thinking it would go, and it asked a lot of deep questions. Unfortunately, a lot of the investment for me was lost by how obvious and forward it was with its message. I’m giving a mild recommend to Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, with a 7/10.