Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn
Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Starring: 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
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cinematography: Henry Braham
Edited by: Fred Raskin, Craig Wood
Production company: Marvel Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I was a stranger and newcomer when going to see the original film, now I was something of a dedicated fan waiting in line for Vol. 2! Marvel has a conflicted history with sequels it seems. Personally I love Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I love it light years more than The First Avenger. Although the popular consensus is for Avengers over Age of Ultron I personally disagree. Yet, many people seem to not care much for Iron Man 2 and Thor: Dark World which I completely get and agree with. Well how about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 follows our heroes from the first film as they try to escape an issue from a current job and then get tangled up with Ego, Star Lord’s long, lost father. In some aspect I would contend the story is superior to the first film where it was basically a loosely told origin tale about stopping the big baddie and retrieving the MacGuffin. Nonetheless, the first film was able to get away with having the story play second fiddle to great characters the audience will fall in love with. Therefore it was character-centered and not story centered. Vol. 2 seems to turn the dial on story up a little bit but not at the compromise of the characters. The first one is great in establishing the characters as now we can get more out of them. Gamora is no longer playing the stone-cold assassin, Drax has way more lines and humor (not complaining, he’s my favorite) and there is something of a relationship between Star Lord and Rocket now. First off I will say this movie well have you laughing out loud multiple times. Overall, everyone says more and does more with each other. Furthermore, the center of the story seems to be Star Lord and his father as it should, but they are given the perfect amount of time without side lining everyone else. The narrative seems to be solely focused on the idea of family. What does it mean to be a family? Who is family? What comprises of the trials and tribulations of a family? This is woven throughout the film rather beautifully, which solidifies in giving the film a lot of heart and a theme, rather than some mindless action film. Without spoiling, it plays a crucial role in the film’s conclusion. Yes, the first film was something of an origin but Vol. 2 builds up our beloved Guardians a bit more. We get a little more back story and more insight to our team members without too much exposition or feeling like a second-parted origin tale. These characters are still developing, not blank slates to face consequences to only forget them for the next film.
I will say this time the soundtrack did not completely sweep me up. Granted, I have some bias since I knew a few of the songs already in the first film. Yet, the soundtrack seems a bit underplayed in this installment. Yes there were a few songs used for emphasis like Looking Glass’ “Brandy” but overall the most of them came off more like background music. The first film made me want to get up and dance, this one just nob my head and tap my feet a little. Tyler Bates returns for the score which had slightly more emphasis this time. At times the score carried a more cinematic, space action adventure vibe bordering cliché but hey it worked it and really amped up the scenes when used.
Visually this film is freaking stunning! James Gunn did a wonderful job creating his world in the first film. A galaxy I wanted to explore in depth in more installments. After this I want to actually go and enjoy this galaxy in person. The cinematography, special effects and scenery help mold this majestic world with so many great shots like Gamora sitting idly by on Ego’s Planet, a snow scene or the ending. You get caught up in the visual scenery that you want to put the film on pause and just engross yourself into that setting for a period of time. I know Gunn is the kind of director who wants to use practical effects as much as possible. I for one am having trouble buying any of this was practical to be honest, and I mean that as a compliment. Gunn certainly gets characters and music, but best of all he knows how to tell a story through visuals. This is a film I may recommend you try seeing in 3-D, even if 3-D is not your kind of thing.
Now is it better than the original? Hard to say, I feel this film compliments the first one very well, it cannot do some things without the prior movie but it builds on from its predecessor and do some details better. It is great to see a Marvel film not simply being a two hour long trailer for the next film. This is a standalone movie that is sure doing some build-up for part 3 but that is treated as an afterthought. Vol. 2 packs a good amount of twists and surprises, which really hit me in the feels, which may be the first for a Marvel film for me. Not only does the film pack great humor but the picture is just so full of fun, wonder, charm, awesomeness and amazement. Half-way through the film your face will hurt due to the constant smile you’ll be wearing.
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