Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has proven time and time again that it is an unstoppable force. The MCU films are consistently topping the charts upon release, and some have even broken sales records. James Gunn’s most recent near-masterpiece, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, continues to carry that torch onward.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 boasts many things; a plethora of character development, an emotionally driven story, a humor extravaganza. However, it does have some flaws sprinkled throughout. As I mentioned, this film does a fantastic job of developing characters. Quite possibly the film’s biggest strength was its ability to make me further enjoy characters I loved from the first film, while also convincing me to enjoy the presence of characters I didn’t care so much about with the first installment. The characters deliver dialogue that is often times memorable and quotable, and the character’s chemistry throughout the film feels like it carries more weight than most Marvel films to date. Although the characters and relationships are thoroughly fleshed out, Guardians Vol 2’s plot feels like it loses touch with itself at a couple points; sometimes losing sight of what the story is really trying to accomplish. Without incorporating spoilers into any of this, I will at least state that the plot both builds and climaxes in what feels like the blink of an eye. Although in most cases, films following this formula can deliver lots of screen time that feel like filler, Guardians Vol 2 does quite the opposite. If anything, I think I enjoyed the surrounding film more than the climax itself. It is worth stating that the film only truly solidifies a plot in its latter moments, and viewers expecting a thoroughly fleshed out, start-to-finish plot may leave feeling underwhelmed.
As expected, the returning cast from the first Guardians film (aka the bulk of the cast) still offers a lot of the same reasons to love their respective characters. As aforementioned, I found myself enjoying characters in this film that I didn’t care for in the first installment. Viewers will very likely be pleased with the newcomers in this film as well. I think the most noteworthy case of this being Pom Klementieff’s Mantis character. She has chemistry with another character in this film that leads to a great deal of its quotable dialogue, while also establishing herself as a character I am really hoping to see more of in the MCU. In addition, viewers will see some incredibly recognizable faces making their first appearances in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe such as the legendary Sylvester Stallone and Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell. Returning stars such as Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana further fill the roles that it seems like they were born to play. And, of course, good ol’ Vin Diesel delivers yet another Grammy-worthy performance as the lovable Baby Groot character. Despite many of these stars being recognizable faces, I never found myself having issues distinguishing them as their character within the film. If anything, when I watch a film such as Riddick starring Guardian’s Dave Bautista, I am more likely to mentally connect his character to Guardians than I am vice versa.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an absolute spectacle. This is definitely a film worth seeing in an IMAX or 3D environment, in my opinion. Boasting visuals that are absolutely stunning and vibrant in aesthetic, Guardians Vol. 2 is quite the sight for sore eyes. The characters are done phenomenally well, and from what I can tell from various set photos, it looks like many of the characters were designed with practical effects, rather than CGI. This adds to the depth of realism within a world of fantasy. Almost every setting in this film boasted vibrant colors, and when I wasn’t focusing on the gorgeous visuals within this film, it was probably due to the fact that I was awestruck by the intense, yet fluid, action.
The sound in this film was, as expected, wonderful, but I want to take a moment to focus on the film’s soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 2. If you aren’t aware, only two film soundtracks touched the Number 1 spot on the Billboard charts in 2014 (the release year of the first Guardians of the Galaxy). One of those was Frozen, which actually hit shelves in 2013 but people couldn’t let it go, and the other soundtrack was Awesome Mix Vol. 1, which was especially impressive because most of the tracks were from the 60’s and 70’s era of music. Why was this? Was it because so many people had a hankering for the now-late David Bowie? Quite possibly. However, I’d be more willing to bet it’s because James Gunn effectively created such a wonderfully expansive world with subject matter that was unfamiliar to most and made every single aspect of that world as relatable as it was enjoyable. My 4-year-old daughter requested Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling to be played at my wedding because she loves Guardians and the soundtrack so much. Naturally, Vol. 2 had practically solidified itself as a hit before the tracklisting was even revealed. While Vol. 2’s soundtrack hasn’t reached the success of the first and, in comparison, isn’t as good, it is still a damn good soundtrack to compliment a damn good film. Outside of the enjoyable soundtrack, the sound quality in this film is great. All the sounds, both good and bad in nature sound as realistic as you’d want them too, making this film a well-rounded film from all ends of the spectrum.
Outside of the gripes about the plot holding it back from being flawless, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a hell of a film. This film easily ranks high among movies both within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in the comic book film genre, in general. Gunn and company have proved yet again that they can take a hodge-podge team of heroes and villains and, almost perfectly, construct a captivating world around them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the must-see films of 2017, and will certainly be under consideration when we look back on our favorite films of the year.