***This is a non-spoiler review. For spoiler talk, click here***
When I watched the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I went into the film completely blind. I had zero knowledge of the comics and the characters themselves, I had never heard of any of them beyond Rocket Raccoon, yet I still knew virtually nothing about him. If there was any movie I was nervous about watching when it came out, that was the one, it was a film I knew nothing about and was unsure how I’d react. But there was promise, after all the cast seemed fantastic. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin fucking Diesel speaking only three words?! And then the inner professional wrestling fan wanting to see Dave Bautista succeed in film, it just added to the intrigue of the movie. And once the trailer came out, I was sold, it looked like an extremely entertaining movie, a film that was aware that not many people would know anything about it, so it would make itself so easy to approach. Sure enough, it ended up being one of my favourite films, in fact it’s my #3 film of all the Marvel films behind The Avengers and Deadpool.
So here we are, the sequel to the shockingly amazing Guardians of the Galaxy. How does the second film fare? Reviews generally have been saying that it’s a great film, but just doesn’t live up to the first film.
Me? I think it’s better. And personally, it’s become my favourite Marvel movie.
Let’s just get it right out of the way, shall we? Baby Groot is freaking adorable! This entire movie in a way feels like it was designed to sell so much Baby Groot merchandise, as he steals every single scene he’s in. The intro itself might as well have said “Baby Groot: The Movie” rather than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, because he was front and center of the entire thing. However, even though Groot does shine in the film, I feel like he never completely takes attention away from the film, he’s there to enhance everything, rather than to divert your eyes away. He makes a joke funnier, he makes a moment sadder, he only adds onto the emotional value of everything around him.
The rest of the cast continues to be just so damn good. Dave Bautista however in my opinion, just absolutely comes into his own in this film. He was great in the first Guardians, but this time around, holy hell is he absolutely perfect. It’s very clear he’s learned a lot in the past couple years since his acting career has really begun, his timing is perfect, his selling of every joke is just so perfect and over-the-top, you cannot deny just how good the Drax character is in this film. Chris Pratt really brings out the emotions in this film as well, due to the great job Kurt Russell does with his character, the two feeding off each other so well as the film goes on. The other standout to me though is Michael Rooker as Yondu, who really breaks out as a badass, even more than he did in the first film. The rest of the cast is still very good, Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian reprise their ‘sister rivalry’ very well throughout the film, Bradley Cooper keeps Rocket Raccoon as the best douchebag raccoon in film, hell we even get cameos from David Hasselhoff, Rob Zombie and Seth Green as Howard the freaking Duck!
The one weak choice in my personal opinion is Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord (or Starhawk), but not because he plays the role terribly or the character isn’t interesting or anything like that. This might sound weird to some people, others will agree with me, but when I watched the film, I felt like Stallone is beyond out of place in this film. In my eyes, he’s one of those few mega stars that I feel just doesn’t belong in a Marvel film, perhaps because he’s above these kinds of films, or he just doesn’t fit within the attitude and light-heartedness of the films. Other names for me are guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keanu Reeves, like legendary action stars that had so many super-serious badass roles that they just don’t work in my head when it comes to Marvel’s kind of films. But again, I’m not saying Stallone is bad in the film, he just looked weird in it to me.
Without spoiling the story, what Guardians really succeeds at so well is taking multiple storylines and melding them together into one coherent and fluent film. So many movies try to fit in too much (see all the Spider-Man films) and it becomes an incoherent mess, but Guardians has so many fingers in so many pies, yet you wouldn’t know any different from them having their fingers in five pies or one. Whether it’s Star-Lord and Ego’s new relationship, the Guardians getting into trouble with the Sovereign, Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon having their problems with each other, Gamora and Nebula’s sister rivalry, Yondu trying to redeem himself with the Ravagers and of course THANOS!!!, albeit in this film, they don’t necessarily push the Thanos/Infinity War storyline heavily, it’s more referenced to a number of times. The film has so much going on, yet it feels like everything fits, nothing’s out of place and nothing takes away from another storyline.
Emotionally as well, the film hits so many different states. The film in my opinion, is the funniest Marvel film I have ever watched and yes, I am including Deadpool on this list. The jokes in Guardians Vol.2 are so on-point, they’re done with perfect timing, perfect reactions and the call-backs are not wasted on minor jokes, they come back at the best possible times. If you’re paying attention, it pays off, the jokes are just so damn good. But along with the fantastic light-heartedness of the film and the on-point comedy, there are some real dark and sad emotions going on in this film as well. The first film was pretty much all light-hearted throughout, that’s not the case this time. It’s still prominently fun-loving, but this time around the negative emotions are ramped up throughout the film and they truly mean something, they’re not half-assed, they’re not terribly written, they really get you and they get you hard. For why, you’ll have to check the spoiler post.
The film most importantly ends well. The final battle doesn’t go out with a whiff, there’s real resolution and real emotions at the very end. Some Marvel movies have ended less than stellar, this may just be the best ending I’ve seen from a Marvel film (or the worst, depending on how you felt at the end), aside of course from Logan, which I’m not sure any movie will be able to replicate that level of emotion at the very end.
So when it’s all said it done, I have to say, I truly believe this is my favourite Marvel movie yet. Deadpool was as funny, but didn’t have the emotional value as Guardians. The Avengers had the emotions and the amazing battles, but the comedy was so much better in Guardians. Logan had the best ending and some fantastic emotional value and surprisingly good comedy, but it was missing a great villain that Guardians certainly has in this film, for one specific reason that was addressed so perfectly afterwards.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who will leave this film as their #1, but I’m not surprised either that the majority won’t share my opinion. I think a lot of people will lean to the three movies I listed in the paragraph above as the shining stars of the Marvel cinematic universe, hell a lot of them will tell you that the first Guardians movie was better. But in my opinion, this movie beats them all, it has better jokes, better emotions, a better villain and a better ending. It’s my favourite Marvel movie to date, without question.