By: Muneeb Arshid
I… Am… Groot! Baby Groot is back and is probably one of the best things about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2… obviously!
The Guardians are back for another adventure zooming around space and advancing our story in the multiverse that is now the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As fellow writer Samar Khan wrote in his review of Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2014 adventure was and still is the most fun film of the MCU. As you can tell from that insinuation, this means that Vol 2 has not necessarily lived up to that billing from 3 years ago.
At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, our group of unlikely heroes had banded together and were off to save the world and we find them at the beginning of Vol. 2 doing exactly that. While protecting batteries (yeah, batteries), our friend Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) betrays the Sovereign for whom The Guardians were protecting the batteries and turn the Sovereign against our intergalactic superheroes. During the escape, the Guardians crash land on another planet where they are rescued by Kurt Russell‘s Ego and taken to Ego’s planet. It is then revealed *Spoilers Ahead* that Ego is actually the superhero father of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), news that does not make any of the other members of the clan as excited as it does Peter.
This film is all about the characters and them exploring their various relationships. Of course, the relationship between Peter and Ego is dealt with in considerable detail as we find out once the film progresses into the third act. However, sisters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) work through their issues throughout the film especially considering the mutual hatred for their father Thanos which helps them come to terms.
Without delving into even more spoilers, let’s just say that Peter and Ego’s relationship does eventually devolve into something less akin to a “normal” father-son relationship. I guess things do change when you’ve never actually known the truth about your superhero past.
Obviously, being a direct sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 is going to garner the comparisons as to what made the original film so much fun. All the same characters are back and for the most part, the fun, innocent, comedic interplay between them all is back. There are instances in the film where some jokes feel quite blatant and ham-fisted, but it did not become an issue as the characters are so much fun to watch. The script itself is a bit of an issue. Yes, it’s great that Marvel and director James Gunn are trying to focus the story on the family aspect a lot more, so much so as it becomes a major plot point, but it becomes a little thin in terms of lasting the duration of the film.
So, what about the rest of the plot? Well, the fact that the Sovereign is pissed off at the Guardians isn’t really much for a film to be based on. And again, for a universe that is building up to the ultimate battle against Thanos, you would think that there would be some storyline continued in this of all movies.
These thin plot lines are a little unimpressive but nonetheless, the film is still coherent and quite fun all the way through.
The plot and the direction are quite intertwined with one another and this comes down to director James Gunn. His snappy direction from the first film is apparent here but just doesn’t hit the level of the 2014 Marvel film. That was one of those cases where an origin story worked well with the comedic introduction of all the new characters and the build up of their relationship. This film focuses on other aspects and is still quite funny, but does not zip along like the first film. It drags prior to the climactic third act and coming in at almost 140 minutes, it is not the shortest films out there.
This might sound like a review that is going to receive a bad grade at the end of it. Not so, the criticisms for this film are valid but quite minor… well, minor compared to the comments written about them.
Apart from the entire film itself, what was the one thing that people still remember about Guardians of the Galaxy from 2014? The soundtrack. Specifically The Awesome Mixtape Vol 1. Well, we now have The Awesome Mixtape Vol 2. Is it as memorable as the first soundtrack? Probably won’t be, but it was just as good listening to the music during the film. With a lineup featuring Fleetwood Mac and George Harrison, the rest of the soundtrack does not necessarily have the big names as the first soundtrack did. I was still tapping my feet throughout the film, enjoying the inclusion of another great soundtrack but it wouldn’t be one that I would play, say in my car on my own time like I did with the sounds of the Jackson Five or David Bowie or The Runaways.
The 15th film of the MCU comes and goes and gives us more of the same that we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. With the likes of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok releasing this year, and three more films releasing next year, it is a busy couple of years that are upcoming for Kevin Feige and this film may not necessarily stick out like Guardians of the Galaxy, which still resonates with many film audiences.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 receives a grade of B (7.6/10).