Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ‘Spoiler-Free’ Review
Rarely a season of the year can come and go these days without Marvel sliding a new chapter of its ever expanding universe into the theatres and printing an absolute ton of money for Disney. To kick start the summer blockbuster season this year, everyone’s favourite band of misfits, the Guardians of the Galaxy, storm back on to the big screen in the highly anticipated sequel to the massively successful 2014 film. While the second entry isn’t quite as fun and inventive as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is an absolute blast, an action packed ride, while easily being the funniest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date.
Volume 2 finds our heroes doing their best to make some bank and help save the galaxy, one fight at a time. When Star Lord’s father shows up, having finally tracked down his long lost son, Quill follows his biological destiny, even as the Guardians are being mercilessly hunted by a variety of angry and crazed alien clans.
From the opening frames where we meet a healthy version of Peter’s mother and are introduced to a delightfully 80’s version of Kurt Russell’s Ego, it’s very clear what we’re about to get into. So, when the opening credits are the Guardians battling a massive interdimensional monster while Baby Groot throws down a dance number to a classic Earth track, it’s pretty clear that Gunn and company aren’t taking themselves seriously by any stretch of the imagination. The MCU thrives on humour to propel it’s films forwards, but if any member of the Avengers were strictly goofy, it would screw with the continuity and tone of the Avengers films. However, this is the cosmic side of the MCU and the Guardians own this part of the galaxy. What Gunn delivers to us is a straight up comedy that is peppered through with crazy, off the wall action. The combination of charm, wit and just downright silliness helps separate the Guardians from the rest of the MCU and makes their adventures all the more enjoyable.
“The action is big and explosive, the comedy uproarious, and the MCU grew bigger and better with another excellent chapter.”
The cast of the film, as one would expect after the first one, are exceptional. Pratt and Saladana’s ‘will they, won’t they’ dynamic (a source of a multitude of jokes) is helped out by the charisma and chemistry of the leads. Dave Bautista is given reams of material to work with, allowing him to really spread his wings and carve out some room for Drax as a fan favourite. Rocket and Yondu have an emotional and pretty violent story arc, while Mantis and Baby Groot ramp up the cute factor but have a very important role to play and aren’t just there as adorable set decoration. Karen Gillan’s Nebula is a delightful maniac who humanizes a murderous villain and Kurt Russell’s Ego is a real highlight of the film, especially with me being a lifelong fan of Russell. Couple all of this with some top notch secondary roles and a borderline ridiculous laundry list of cameos and you can see why nearly every minute of GoG Vol 2 is a treat to watch.
There was two aspects to the film that really surprised me as I watched. The film has two polar opposite arcs happening in tandem with each other that are what makes the film such an enjoyable watch, but also creates its biggest problems. The movie is both a hilarious comedy and is a very, very emotional journey at the same time. The emotional arc really becomes the backbone of the story and what is going to push the characters forward for the next chapter. The role of family, what makes a family, and what we’re willing to do for the people we love is explored throughout the film. From Rocket’s anger problems, to Quill’s father, to Gamora and Nebula’s relationship as sisters, to Drax’s lost family, the film doesn’t hold any punches in tugging on your heart strings and making you think about your relationships to your family as well. One of the more appealing aspects to the Guardians is that they’re a bunch of misfits and outsiders, so it only makes sense that their ties as a dysfunctional family unit come under fire when actual blood ties come into play. It makes for a dramatic arc that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with powers or their role as heroes like we find with the Avengers.
“The combination of charm, wit and just downright silliness helps separate the Guardians from the rest of the MCU and makes their adventures all the more enjoyable.”
The other major aspect of the film is the comedy element which ends up being its best aspect but also its most problematic one. The movie is piled full of jokes that range from pop culture references, well written chucklers, and visual silliness. They come quick and often, many times causing you to miss a joke because you’re still laughing from the previous. The movie is a damn riot that had me doubled over in my seat on more than one occasion. However, I’m slightly concerned with the ramifications that the humour is going to have on the rest of the MCU. Captain America: Civil War was also chocked full of jokes, but it was a pretty gritty movie with pretty high stakes when it comes down to it. GoG on the other hand, handles some pretty intense stuff in a very silly fashion. For instance, Russell’s Ego is a Celestial as the comic fan readers here will already know. While the handling of his character fits very well with the tone of the film, it sort of made light of the Celestial’s role in the Universe. How this is going to play out as the other Celestial’s are introduced or even against the Mad Titan in the next Avenger’s film, remains to be seen, but it was handled in such a way that it has given rise to some concerns for the MCU.
The only other issue that arose for me from this movie was that they couldn’t quite seem to peg the tone down. Baby Groot is insanely adorable and coupled with all the jokes and lighter tone than most other MCU entries, GoG seemed to be geared towards being a family event than the others. Until the mass murders and executions started happening, which was offset by some less than subtle sexual innuendo and quite a bit of language. None of this bothers me in the slightest, but I could see how it would alarm a parent who brought a small child based on how much the kid loved Baby Groot in the trailers. The non-stop barrage of jokes was also slightly off putting when I watched someone beg for their life and then be graphically executed…
In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an exciting, action packed, and genuinely hilarious entry into the MCU and an excellent follow up to the beloved first film. With a surprisingly strong emotional arc and a solid examination of family and what really brings us together. The action is big and explosive, the comedy uproarious, and the MCU grew bigger and better with another excellent chapter. Some tonal inconsistencies and some potentially troubling ramifications for the MCU moving forward aside, GoG Vol. 2 is an excellent entry into the lexicon and an absolute blast to kick start the summer season. The only real question about this one is going to be how much money it’s going to rake in. Spoiler alert – it’s going to be a lot!
- Explosive action
- Touching and heartfelt moments
- Solid performances
- Great script
- Tone of the film varies widely
- Sets an odd precedent for Marvel