Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper
Review Author: Tony
Rating: 3.5/5 pints of Guinness
Back in 2014, I found myself scratching my head wondering whether this latest Marvel film was worth the price of a cinema ticket (I was a broke student back then). Who the hell were these guys? What was their overall role in the big picture that is the Marvel Universe? The promotional material and trailers all looked pretty fun but I still found myself entering the screening with cautious skepticism. Of course, I ended up loving the film just like everyone else. It was the perfect blend of action, adventure, humour and truly expanded the Marvel Universe massively, and to the backdrop of a banging soundtrack.
The success of Guardians of the Galaxy lies in the hands of James Gunn who convinced a studio as big as Marvel and Disney to try something fresh and introduce a whole new cast of characters that were virtually unknown. The tone of the film was unlike any others in the series. It embraced both anarchy and silliness, it’s not every day you see our hero challenging the villain to a dance-off when the fate of a planet is at stake. Guardians very much felt like an experiment, a gauge to see whether something unfamiliar but tied to the overall universe would connect with audiences. Thankfully with Gunn’s wit and direction fans fell in love with this band of outcasts instantly.
The film picks up a couple of months after the events of the first, as the Guardians deeds are known across the universe. They’ve put their talents to works and become heroes for hire. The film opens up with our heroes fighting an inter-dimensional beast for a race of Golden, genetically perfected beings called The Sovereign. As our heroes are thanked for slaying the beast we find out that Rocket has stolen batteries because he felt like it (never change Rocket) which has the Sovereign gunning for them. From there a bunch of stuff happens that only really ties together in the Third act.
Unfortunately, the plot is the gaping flaw of this movie. It unfolds in such a meandering way that I found myself questioning what exactly was going on at the midpoint. There are three separate storylines happening at once, with none feeling connected to the other until the third act where it seems more by coincidence than a natural flow. The plot line of Peter meeting his father gives Chris Pratt surprisingly little to do with the majority of the film which is an odd choice considering he’s the leading man.
What Guardians does improve on is the humour of the first, my sides were splitting from the gags in the film. Honestly, the film felt like a full-blown comedy at times and yes I can confirm that Drax steals the show again. The character development was also a large focus here as we learn a lot about our titular characters, but more impressively is the development of secondary characters such as Yondu and Nebula. It’s perhaps a little heavy-handed in its delivery of emotional moments as characters reflect on past moments that shaped who they are, although I loved how throwaway moments from the first film were given far more significance here.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 never quite reaches the heights of its predecessor but this is mainly due to the fact that the initial surprise of how good the first has worn off. Gunn knows what the fans of the first film liked so he doubles down on the gags, music cues, and visuals to mostly the films benefit. Ultimately it’s just a great big fun time that kept me thoroughly entertained throughout. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is nowhere as memorable as the first, but hey, at least Baby Groot was adorable.