And here we go again, back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with none other than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! The previous film was such a sleeper hit, there’s only one question on everyone’s mind: Is Vol. 2 as good as the first one? I’m happy to report that while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t as amazing as the first film, it is still a great film with plenty of heart, action and funny moments.
Picking up a few months after the previous film, the Guardians are now heroes for hire with a reputation across the galaxy. During a mission for Ayesha, the leader of Sovereign race, Rocket decides to steal an item from them instead, resulting the team being on a run from the advanced alien race. Meanwhile, the Ravagers are after the Guardians as well due a mutiny within Yondu’s group. However, the real heart of the film is when Peter finally meets his father. Played by Kurt Russell, Ego is a celestial being and a planet who wishes to reconcile with his son. It’s a story about family and what it really means to be a family.
If the first film is about bringing the team together, this film is about testing their bond. There are small moments here and there showing them caring for each other, including how they all look out for Baby Groot during dangerous situations. The Guardians’ love for each other is so strong, we can’t help it but to care for them as well. We want Peter to have a relationship with his father, we become livid when the Ravagers bully Baby Groot, we laugh when Drax makes a joke, we understand Nebula’s reason to hate her sister, we care for why Rocket has trust issues, and we get a look into Yondu’s past.
However, the film is so heavy on character arcs, it can be quite distracting from time to time. Not to mention the film comes with a cast of newcomers such as Ayesha, Taserface, a new group of Ravagers, Ego and Mantis. All these characters are really awesome, and this only makes the already heavy-plotted film even heavier. Since the movie is already really dense, some major characters are absent for the big chunks of second act. There’s a high possibility that the character is absent for story surprises, but it can also be to balance out the film already filled with character arcs.
Baby Groot really stole the spotlight here. I will admit that I’m originally not a big fan of the overly adorable character during promotional materials. It’s so gimmicky, and clearly there for mascot and merchandising opportunities. While it might still be true in many ways, the little tree creature is very likable and the film does a great job making the character relevant.
Kurt Russel’s Ego might be one of the most memorable villain in the MCU. The character is charming, menacing and there’s a lot to be taken away from his story. It’s a common problem in Marvel films that villains are not memorable, so it’s nice we have another baddie we can talk about other than Loki.
The film, however, tries a little too hard leaning into what people love about from the first film. Over the top lack of self-awareness from Drax, over-played classic tune soundtracks and many things we loved. It’s nice we get something familiar, but going to far with the gimmicks cannot be good, and if anything the film loses some charms. One other problem the film has, which I kind of mentioned above, is the pacing issue. The film has too many character arcs, thus it’s hard to follow through and the story pacing suffers.
But don’t forget, Guardians of the Galaxy is still a beautiful film, with some of its weakness being its strongest. The film is still as bright and psychedelic as the first film. There are plenty of ’70s infulence, and in may way director James Gunn writing the soundtrack into the film only makes it more pleasurable to watch. Also, I’m a big fan that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is very distant from the rest of the MCU films. It’s always nice to take a break away from what’s going on with the rest of the heroes for once.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun film. The story suffers some pacing problems here and there, but it’s still a very good film with great character development and an emotional ending. While I appreciate the film takes place away from typical Avengers stories, it’s about time for the heroes of the galaxy meet Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I can’t wait to see where the franchise is taking us to next.