I was a huge fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy. To this day, it is my favorite entry in the MCU, just above both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War. So, when the expected sequel to the hit 2014 film was announced, I was excited but I wasn’t expecting something to blow away the first one. The first film has had such a big impact on the superhero genre as a whole that I couldn’t see this one living up to the first one. The only sequels in the MCU to exceed their predecessors were the two Captain America sequels listed above. That being said, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was a very good sequel that while not great, was funny, charming and a fun time at the movies.
Vol 2 picks up a few months after the Guardians defeated Ronan and saved the galaxy and has them working as a sort of mercenaries for hire. They have been hired by the Sovereign, a race of people that have bright gold skin to help protect batteries from a big, squid like creature from another dimension. When Rocket (Bradley Cooper) steals these batteries to sell them on the black market, the Sovereign send them crashing onto a planet and that’s when they meet Ego (Kurt Russell), Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father who has been searching for him ever since he was taken by Yondu (Michael Rooker), who is also on the search for Peter and the Guardians as he has been hired to bring them to the Sovereign for their betrayal. Along the way, Nebula (Karen Gillan), Nebula’s (Zoe Saldana) sister crosses paths with them and this is the first half of the film, the second half is where the story really comes together and you learn things about Ego and a few of the characters that really elevate the film and for me to say anymore would ruin some of the surprises.
First and foremost, the Guardians are of course amazing. Each character that you love from the first one is in full form here. Baby Groot was so cute and lovable, although they really cram it in your face and sometimes it does get a little overbearing but it’s hard not to love him. Drax (Dave Bautista) was hilarious in this film. His deadpan delivery of every line was perfect and he even had some really raunchy lines that I’m surprised made it into a Disney film. Gamora was really badass and of course beautiful, with her arc with Nebula and the troubled sibling dynamic feeling both tragic and helps flesh both of these characters out. Even Rocket’s story was really deep and made you feel bad for him because on the inside of this tough shell lies sadness. But, this is Peter Quill’s movie. The whole theme of the movie is family and centers on him trying to learn about his father and hopefully finally have a true father figure in his life that he so longs for. This being said, the standout of the movie is Yondu. His character goes through my favorite arc of the film. He was one of my favorite characters of the first film and they really flesh him out here and a few times in the film, it feels like a Yondu movie. I was so happy with his character at the end of the movie.
Speaking of the end of this movie, the 3rd act all the way to the final shot of the film is the MCU’s best finale in the entire franchise. It is so emotionally wrenching and had my heart racing and a pit in my stomach the entire time. I absolutely adore James Gunn’s choice with the final shot of the film because it doesn’t end it on a happy note. It’s a bit somber and tear-jerking and I think that was brilliant. I hope Phase 3 brings us more endings like this because with the stakes higher as we gear up for Infinity War, I can only imagine more somber coming. But what follows is where my flaws with the film lie because as we all know, the MCU has basically reinvented the post credits stinger and this film had more than one of them. Five to be exact and out of the five, two of them are really worth being there, actually there’s a third one that was really well done but seemed like it fit at the end of the previous Guardians. The ones that fall flat and even the non-fitting well done one completely destroy the tone the perfect ending left and made me leave the theater kind of torn. It sucks because if not for these post credits scenes, I would of been able to give the film a higher grade. Even the one post credits scene that sets up the next film either could of just been omitted or placed in the actual film itself. It’s a shame really that the company that invented this tactic didn’t realize that sometimes the best kind of stinger is none at all.
You already know the film’s soundtrack is top notch, following in the footsteps of the first one. This time around the film uses lesser known songs and I found myself potentially enjoying this choice of songs then the ones from the first one, although nothing tops the use Redbone’s Come and Get Your Love in the opening of Guardians 1. Also, the visual style of the film is so vibrant and colorful that I’ve noticed Phase 3 is getting more Psychedelic with each movie and I think this is one of the things James Gunn excels at.
Besides this, the film feels slightly jumbled towards the beginning as it sets up everyones arc and it isn’t until the second act it really gets going. Also, the film does relay on the previous film a little bit in terms of what we as a viewer found funny and gives us more of it i.e Baby Groot. Sometimes, this is a bit of a damper.
While this is a not perfect film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a good sequel and one of the best sequels in the MCU. It has the best finale in the franchise and if not undone by an overabundance of post-credits scenes, would of been the perfect ending. Another successful addition in the MCU down, bring on Spider-Man: Homecoming!