Release Date: May 5, 2017
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Bebicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, Aaron Schwartz, Hannah Gottesman, Hilty Bowen, Ben Browder, Alex Klein, Luke Cook, Evan Jones, Joe Fria, Terence Rosemore, Jimmy Urine, Stephen Blackehart, Steve Agee, Blondy Baruti, Richard Christy, Rob Zombie, Sierra Love
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 136 minutes
Production Company: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Back in 2014, with months leading up to James Gunn’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy, it was safe to say no one knew what to expect. Some movie goers were excited, while others thought it would be Marvel Studios’ first flop. Fortunately for all fans of entertainment, it was a solid film that blew every preexisting expectation away. Now we’re here for volume 2, and the expectations are on the rise. I thought the first film was a ton of fun, even with the nitpicks I have throughout its duration. While the studio was taking a leap of faith, to me I still sensed they were afraid to go full speed ahead with the source material, rushing to have the Guardians team up. However, with the sequel it feels that everything has been flipped upside down. While the first film had a more solid story, with a pop of fresh innovative ideas, volume 2 lacks in that area, but makes up for it with the comedy and character development.
Comedy is easily the best thing about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. From the first frame to the last, there are numerous amounts of funny character moments and jokes that had me and the audience chuckling repeatedly. None of them felt forced like the film was begging for laughs, rather it all felt natural and true. Even during the scenes of danger where death is lurking around the corner, there was still room for a laugh or two; which speaks volumes about the flow of the film. This wouldn’t have been handled properly with any other director, and James Gunn has his signature stamped all over this property. Marvel sometimes makes the mistake of previewing too much during its marketing campaign, but even with all the supposed spoilers from trailers, those same moments in the film were still able to surprise you and make you laugh. All of the characters were being themselves, and because of that every funny moment was pure.
Something volume 2 didn’t possess like the first film was the surprise factor that made the first film so well received. While that was great in the first film, there wasn’t enough room to develop the characters. That’s not the issue in the slightest in volume 2. Every character that was underdeveloped before, shined bright as a star this second time around. All of the characters had an intriguing back story that gave their characters more depth and meaning, which made you sympathize more when they were in pain. This is especially true for Nebula (Karen Gillan), who had horrible makeup and came across as having daddy issues in the first film. This time I was on her side, wanting to jump in the screen and help her seek revenge. Why the first film didn’t bother to flesh this out more is a mystery, but that issue has since been erased by Gunn and the writing team. Something else that makes the Guardians so fascinating is how well they work together as a group and individually. Whether apart or separate, they each are sufficient enough to hold their own movie franchise on the side, and it would be just as entertaining.
As far as negatives go for the film, they’re hard to sort out, with there barely being any. It depends on what you’re looking for. The villains in the film may not be the most threatening, coming off more comical than sinister, but there’s a surprise revelation that makes up for it. While the story isn’t as solid and does not connect with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, volume 2 focuses more on the development of the heroes than anything else. Other than that, there isn’t an element of being blown away, with you rushing out raving to tell your friends, but the adventure the Guardians embark on for self-discovery is a gem that’s as luxurious as can be.
From a comic book fans perspective, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a homerun. Without shoe-horning in a barrage of unnecessary characters, the film took its time in focusing on those who were most important. There was a large amount of Easter eggs for what’s to come in the future, which a geek would spot in an instance and a casual fan would accept as just another great addition to the film. Overall, vol. 2 is superior to its predecessor, answering unanswered questions from the first film. If you’re not a fan of this material you will be soon enough due to the entire arc covering multiple genres of entertainment. It isn’t the best film in the MCU, but it does deserve recognition for leading the pack as a standalone film that’s hard not to enjoy.