Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a solid movie on multiple accounts. I had a lot of fun watching it. But I do feel a bit let down knowing what it could have been. Now, I like the movie a lot and would recommend it to anyone who likes Marvel (or Chris Pratt, or hero movies, or movies in general, really), so please take whatever criticism I do offer lightly. Much of my disappointment stems from comparing it to the first movie. While I would typically deem this as unfair since they are different movies, they are not different enough to avoid this comparison. In fact, it seems as if the film welcomes the comparison.
I don’t know of anyone who would disagree when I say the best part of Guardians of the Galaxy is the characters. If you find something else to be better, please let me know. I am genuinely curious and eager to see if I missed something. When you can take fairly obscure comic book characters and release them on the big screen seemingly out of nowhere with that positive of a reception, you know you have done something right. What’s more is that the audience bought into these characters so fully that we cried at the death of a sentient tree that can only speak three words. Fortunately, these same characters carried over to Vol. 2, along with the same level of character development. All of our favorite characters were back on the screen ready to take us on their next adventure. We got to see the careless, distant Star-Lord as we expect, flirting with the leader of the people who hired him then apologizing later to Gamora because of their “unspoken thing”. We also get to see him struggle through the emotions of meeting his father, discovering who Star-Lord truly is, learning his father killed his mother, and finally killing his father. Perhaps in the reverse, we see Gamora as we expect, stone-faced and determined. We then see her dance with Quill and struggle with her animosity toward her sister and disappointment in herself for the way they acted as children. Also, I would like to publicly claim that Rocket Raccoon (and Bradley Cooper) is the best part of both of these movies! He just does everything so right. Just as in the first movie, Vol. 2 develops and utilizes these unique characters well.
Unfortunately, it is with the characters that the film made a bit of a misstep. It looked as if Vol. 2 was too aware of what made the first movie a success and tried to mimic that in the second. While this is not necessarily a negative for a film (still ill-advised), it proved to be so here. The humor, dialogue, and character interactions in the first were organic. They were pure, natural, and fun; they occurred simply because that is who each of the characters is. What made them even better is that we had no idea how lighthearted saving the galaxy can be, but Star-Lord and his guardians showed us. If you have spent more than two minutes talking about fantasy novels with me, then you know two things. First, you will likely never do that again. Second, I am extraordinarily particular about characters staying true to themselves. Star-Lord having a dance-off with a villain to save the world is perfectly fine because that is exactly something that Star-Lord would do. The entire rest of the movie showed us this. It was believable and true. If Batman were to do the same, it simply would not be believable. It would make for excellent memes but terrible cinema. In this regard, Vol. 2 sacrificed organic, believable interactions for the sake of adding more humor. The example I find most offensive is when Star-Lord tells Ego that Ego should not have killed his mother and crushed his Walkman. While Star-Lord is more likely to makes these statements than any other hero (except maybe the Flash), I still do not buy into this one. The death of Quill’s mother is the worst thing that has ever happened to him up to this point. By nonchalantly including the destruction of his Walkman in the same sentence as the death of his mother, Quill is equating the two more so than I believe even he is willing to do. It provided for a decent chuckle across the theater, but I find it too manufactured and disingenuous. Additionally, Drax spends much of the first half of the movie uproariously laughing for strange reasons. This is only funny once every 45 minutes. It’s a legitimate ratio; I checked it out. However, he does this no fewer than six times throughout the whole film, with most of them being in the first half. Again, this was successful in the first movie because of how unexpected and pure it was. This monstrous thing known for brutality has an often childlike understanding of the world and reacts accordingly. It is unexpected and charming in the first but overused in the second, which can be said for much of the film.
The concept for the plot for Vol. 2 is great and the execution is good. My only complaint here is that I just found it too busy. More often than not, character development and plot are intrinsically connected. This is certainly true for Vol. 2, providing us with some excellent storytelling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Rocket Raccoon was undoubtedly the best part of both of these movies. It is always touching to see the care he has for Groot. Also, the audience knows who Rocket Raccoon is, but it was fun to watch him begin to realize who he is himself. The originality behind Ego and his story was also appreciated. And Kurt Russell was the perfect choice. I especially enjoyed the casual way in which Ego mentioned that he put the tumor in the brain of Quill’s mother. It was heartbreaking but it was delivered so well. But there were just so many other stories occurring simultaneously we were never allowed to get lost in the story of Star-Lord and Ego. I find this to be a real shame given how strong this story is. Gamora and Nebula had their reoccurring squabble throughout the movie, which also dragged Thanos’ name into the film. Yondu had to go from a rather undesirable character to a hero and friend in two hours. Rocket Raccoon grew to begin accepting himself for who he is so he can be comfortable with others accepting him. Groot, well, no complaints here; he was awesome. Drax only ever served the role of providing humor and never really got to be a destroyer. Mantis was another new face, but I actually think her story and character were handled well. And what purpose did The Sovereign provide? It seemed as if they were only there to move the story along. As I have said before, I know DC better, so I may be missing some back story with The Sovereign that I should know. While some of these story lines are fantastic and certainly do belong in the film, I think they distracted from the primary story of Star-Lord and Ego. Again, I do not wish this to be a harsh criticism because I did like the movie. So I would like to say that, despite the busyness of the film, the ending was remarkable.
My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Did you enjoy the multiple story lines? What did you think of Ego? How much would you give to have a Baby Groot? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!