Welcome back to Second Union’s coverage of the MCU films leading up to Avengers: Infinity War! We’re getting closer and closer to the arrival of Thanos, and today we’ll be taking a look at the second Guardians of the Galaxy film! It picks up right where the first left off, following the Guardians after they saved the galaxy from Ronan. After Rocket lands them in trouble with a ruthless army, they crash-land on a desolate planet, where they meet a man claiming to be Peter Quill’s father. New alliances form and new enemies arrive, but the Guardians work together to save the day.
The first Guardians is by far one of the greatest superhero films ever made. It’s funny. It’s action-packed. It has an amazing soundtrack. The acting is spot-on. The characters are fully realized. There’s just so much to like. However, all of those qualities made this film so much harder to live up to its predecessor. Vol. 2 is a good film in its own right, but it has a bunch of issues and just isn’t as good as the first.
While the first Guardians film focused mainly on the importance of teamwork, this film shifts that focus to shine the spotlight on the topic of family. Each of the Guardians has their own family issues. Quill’s mother died and he never knew his father. Gamora’s family was slaughtered by Thanos and she was raised by him as his personal assassin. Drax’s wife and daughter were killed by Ronan. Each of the heroes have these tortured pasts, which made them so appealing in the first place. While the need for character development is definitely understandable, it’s unfortunate how reliant this film is on those specific areas to carry the story. It’s hard to fully enjoy a film that takes place across the universe when everybody’s going through the exact same thing in each sector.
That being said, the character development is much appreciated. What was presented in the first film was satisfying, but there are story beats that just wouldn’t make sense without some of the elements in this film. The presentation of the Guardians being torn apart and then pieced back together is brilliant, giving us more of the heart that many superhero films lack nowadays. Characters you wouldn’t normally care as much about? You end up being more emotionally invested in them than you thought. It’s that bait-and-switch move that James Gunn has mastered with the Guardians movies. They pull you in and never let you go.
There is something to be lacking in some of the later action sequences. The ones near the beginning are fun and wild, set to tunes from Peter’s “Awesome Mix Vol. 2”. As the film draws to a close, though, they begin to feel more generic and pointless, which is a disappointment. It’s hard to understand what went wrong because the action sequences in the first film were so meaningful. It’s not fair to say that this film suffers from “sequelitis”, though, because, in all honesty, it really isn’t a bad film. However, there is one huge issue with this movie that’s impossible to ignore. And that is the humor.
Superhero movies need humor. We’ve all seen what happens when the beautiful visions of filmmakers get overlooked with critical complaints about the film being too bleak *cough* Batman v Superman *cough*. That doesn’t mean that the film has to go all-out comedy, though. And that’s what it feels like Vol. 2 is doing. There are too many unnecessary jokes that feel really out-of-place with the tone of the film. There are potentially great moments ruined by a bad gag thrown in at the last second. That’s not to say that every joke is bad. It isn’t. There are plenty of good comedic elements in the film, especially the adorable Baby Groot. They end up being overshadowed by the excess of dry humor, though.
The introduction of Ego, Peter’s actual long-lost father is a relief because the MCU has fooled us before with characters. Like many villains in the franchise, though, Ego falls victim to the typical antagonist problem. He really just isn’t that interesting. The film takes a while to tell us what he really is, and then it’s a slap in the face when we learn Peter won’t have superpowers anymore if he kills him. The twist involving Ego and Peter’s mom? Brilliant. Utterly amazing. It takes you on an emotional trip and just leaves you breathless. However, the rest of his character? He’s charming, sure. But he really doesn’t get much time to showcase his villainy. He wants to conquer. To expand upon his form. That’s it. That shot of his planet form is awesome, though.
That being said, Ego is Heath Ledger’s Joker compared to the other villains. The Sovereign are absolutely horrible. They serve no purpose except to poke sticks in the Guardians’ thighs. They have a massive army and always come out on the losing side, and their leader is a stuck-up, snobby priestess who ends up monologuing a lot and sounding hilariously clichéd. The post-credits scene sort-of redeems their story arc, though. With the Adam Warlock reveal? We’ll see what happens.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a pretty good movie. It has plot elements that really stick out, and the focus on family is a welcome addition. However, its humor feels really unnecessary in places and its villains aren’t all that memorable. The action sequences can be fun, however, and the soundtrack is just as good this time around as it was before. Overall, it’s a fun film with some enjoyable aspects and some annoying ones, but the enjoyable wins out in the long run.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell. Directed by James Gunn.