Saturday, 13 May 2017

Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

     Me reviewing a Marvel film? Unheard of! Haha, anyone who's read this blog before likely knows that I'm a pretty big fan of the MCU films (though I'm not a comic book reader), and I always check out each new release. Obviously there are some I like much more than others, but none have majorly disappointed me thus far. The original 'Guardians of the Galaxy' struck me as quite unusual at first, as it was a departure from the films that preceded it, but it ended up being one of their best films, and one of my favourites (second only to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I think). So of course, I was eager to see how the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, held up.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Marvel Cinematic Universe movie - film poster
(source)


     The Guardians of the Galaxy greatly appeal to me in their roles of misfits, a rag-tag group who come together in unlikely circumstances. They save the galaxy, yes, but they are not conventional heroes in any sense, and their rebellious, rock 'n' roll style, and frequent screw-ups make them unique and relatable, and highly enjoyable to watch. Speaking of rock 'n' roll, the film is accompanied by the soundtrack of 'Awesome Mix Vol 2', another brilliant mix of old-school tracks, perfectly chosen for each moment, and extremely important to Quill, and the rest of the guardians, by extension. What really makes 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2' though, is the humour of these characters. All of them have brilliantly comedic moments, and the film is littered with hilarious one-liners and other jokes. The Stan Lee cameo (and the other cameo, which I won't give away), had me cracking up, and there were so many moments throughout which had me almost in tears of laughter. Even serious, emotional moments had comedy thrown in, and helped keep the film from becoming too dark and serious - not what I'm looking for when I go to see a Marvel movie! Baby Groot is a particularly big player in this, as he's simultaneously adorable and sidesplittingly funny - watching Rocket explain something to him, and then him make the same mistake over and over felt very reminiscent of me and my kindergarten students!

     The film doesn't hinge on its comedy though - there are some serious, emotional moments to be found, and I was almost welling up towards the end. Withe a larger cast such as this, it can be tricky to flesh every character out fully, but they successfully gave most of them decent character arcs and development in this film. Family was an over-arching theme, with Peter dealing with the discovery of his father's identity and history, and his complicated relationship with Yondu, while Gamora and Nebula are forced to examine their relationship as both sisters and combatants over the years. We even get a glimpse of Drax's pain over th eloss of his family, which he doesn't show much of, but Mantis's empathetic abilities show just how much he is hurting. Even Rocket, a scientifically engineered creature, has to examine the way he treats people he cares about, and has a particularly poignant moment with Yondu, who is also dealing with his past. And you haven't felt pain until you see Baby Groot shed a tear! But through it all, the Guardians stick together, and prove that they have found family in each other.

     I was a little confused about the multiple villains present in the film, and I think the pacing was part of this. I assumed the opening scenes with The Sovereigns were a preliminary side-affair, before the main battle, but they were important players throughout the film, so when Ego came along as another combatant, I wasn't sure who the 'big bad' was meant to be. There wasn't really an exposition set-up, we were just flung straight into a series of event - many films are guilty of having an exposition that's too long, but too short can present problems too. I didn't find either villain particularly menacing or threatening either, especially after Thanos and Ronan in the last film. Ego had the more interesting storyline attached to him, while The Sovereigns felt a little like extras just thrown in for drama and battle sequences - however, the closing scene of the High Priestess suggests that they will play a part in a subsequent film somewhere down the line, so perhaps there's more going on there than we know yet. I did love the part the Ravagers had to play though, especially since I didn't know Sylvester Stallone was in this film! They act as villains at times, but also have a strong sense of family within their ranks too, and are important to Peter and Yondu's story.

     'Vol 2' was a little unusual in that it didn't seem to connect to the larger MCU plot lines. Not every MCU does, or has to, of course, as they need to save a lot of that plot lines for the team-up Avengers films. But, considering the first film used an Infinity Stone and Thanos in the plot, which we know is going to be the main plot of the two 'Infinity War' movies, it did feel a bit strange for the sequel to seemingly step away from any other connection to any of the other films - even new characters have been integrated, with Ant-Man popping up in Civil War, Doctor Strange being involved with another Infinity Stone.

     Overall though, I really enjoyed 'Vol 2'. Most Marvel films have funny moments, but I think this was the funniest of them all so far. I love how eclectic and unusual the Guardians and their films are. When you break it down to who they are and what they do, these films sound so bizarre and probably shouldn't work, but yet they do, and they do very, very well. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but it's still one of the best Marvel films to date (especially after the last one, 'Doctor Strange', underwhelmed me a little). A mess-up, rock 'n' roll band of misfits saved the galaxy once again, and did so with flair and style, and more than a few mistakes along the way. Sidesplittingly funny, lots of exciting action sequences, and a good amount of emotional moments and character development, all made for a thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience.


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