Let me get this out of the way: it’s good, not as great as the first one, while managing to be more character driven. Now…
[Minor spoiler warnings]
What a ride though. For anyone worrying that it was going to be Thor 2, Avengers 2, or the dreaded Iron-Man 2, relax, but yes, for every few good things I have to say about the film, there is a bad one to follow, all the while not killing my overall experience.
This 80’s, light show, musical gaga, of a stew features impressive visuals, wonderful characters, funny moments, and a plot that feels ripped straight from the comics, all while they try to beat the Fast and the Furious films for how many times they can say the word family. The story is perfectly fine and there was something comforting about it not revolving around an infinity stone this time, as long as we don’t think too deeply about some of the references or plot holes that might not quite add up. That inevitable end of the universe scenario does crop up unfortunately, but overall this is more of a character piece that revolves around how truly shitty some fathers can be, even if they think what they are doing is good.
The returning cast members were great, especially Karen Gillan (Nebula) and Michael Rooker (Yondu), but seeing Kurt Russell (Ego) do his part was such a pleasure to watch, especially as far as Marvel bad guys are concerned. He was less hollow and lifeless, while the only real disappointment was The Sovereign, filling their role as the secondary antagonists.
This was two hours and sixteen minutes that didn’t feel that long until the very end, because I wanted more of the interactions and the deeper look into the team. It had a similar pacing to X-Men Apocalypse with the build, but executed so much better. The action in it was solid with many characters having their moment to shine, other than Drax perhaps, while the giant end mess of a light show and green screen extravaganza was a battle that remained easier to follow that juggled its elements decently before not taking the cheap way out.
The ending is probably the weakest part, just as it was with the first movie, but I left both feeling pretty awesome the world I left. There isn’t too much time for world-building or expanding too much on the galaxy, but I’m not sure that was needed outside of what we saw. There are some genuinely arresting shots and attention to visuals, mixed with great costumes and wonderful use of colors to make the world of the Guardians come off like a true space escapade. It felt like there was so much more music this time, where it was not as meaningful as in the last film, but it was still excellently selected and seemed like a track list Quill would cruise with. Two of the characters have a discussion about a particular song that is almost overdone, but it stops just in time to feel natural, all while telling more about one of the characters. When do I get my 90s music though?
GotG Vol. 2 leaned heavily on the music because people loved that about the first one, and they liked that there was some humor mixed in with the conflict on this epic journey. So now there is much a lot of that, almost too much. Every slightly serious moment needed two or three jokes and even a few callbacks that were just painful. I laughed so much at some of these moments and others were either too predictable or too forced, especially some of the moments with Drax and Mantis, whom I otherwise wanted to love. This is an aspect that will turn a lot of people off and I worry how I’ll take the levity upon repeat viewings. The references, nostalgia nods, and guest appearances are all fun, but felt a little bloated and occurred too often for me, all this happening while there felt like plot points that could have flourished with more time over fan service. This isn’t to say that there aren’t stakes to care about and sobering moments, as death and destruction are still put well on display, almost artistically in the chaos.
There are five scenes at the end and—why? There were originally going to be six and I’m glad they cut at least one out. Good stuff, fun, not Howard the Duck level, but you know. I like what is being setup for a third installment, but hope that James Gunn reels it all back just a bit. It’ll probably be more of the same, but even MORE, though I owe Gunn a little more faith. I do think that this being the second film hurts it a little, as the first one had that new car smell and was a fantastic surprise that most didn’t know they wanted until their feet were already tapping to the soundtrack. That isn’t the only reason Vol. 2 falls the slightest bit short though and although it’ll still be regarded well by the majority, its different style of story and over use of comedy isn’t going to please everyone and may leave those like myself re-watching to understand their true feelings on the title.
Right now it seems like a beautiful piece of work that I keep pointing at, explaining how I would have done all of these little things differently. Although it seems many are rating it favorably, I have enjoyed reading comments and watching reviews from those who disagree about what actually works and what doesn’t, down to some of the smallest details. I took it for granted that audiences would know what they were getting into this time around and found myself intrigued by many of the responses. I’ll be watching this again soon to get a better idea of where it fits in on my list of Marvel Studios movies, getting opinions of fans all across the spectrum that most likely won’t agree, but the one thing that we can all come together on is a valuable hamfisted lesson Yondu taught us all.
Just because you my father, doesn’t mean you my daddy…