Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review
By Mohamed Mohamed
Edited by Carl Cottingham
The problem with sequels to amazing original films is that you risk the chance of ruining the franchise with a mediocre sequel. How can you give everybody exactly what made the first movie so great but also make it all new? The answer to this in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is quite simple: break up the team that was forged in the first one. But even with this wrinkle to the proceedings, there are problems as the movie attempts to reach the heights of the first one. It never quite reaches it, but it is a testament to its quality that it still ranks among the best film coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The plot begins months after the events of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The Guardians have been hired by a race known as the Sovereign and are tasked with keeping intergalactic batteries safe from a beast that wants to devour it. For this opening sequence, instead of focusing on the battle occurring in the background, James Gunn instead focuses the action on Baby Groot dancing to the beat of the new soundtrack for the film, Awesome Mix Vol 2. The opening immediately tells the audience: “Yeah, they’re back and you’re in for a good time tonight.” Unfortunately for the Guardians, Rocket’s greediness causes him to steal the batteries they were supposed to guard, provoking the Sovereign to launch a fleet to terminate them.
The plot of Vol. 2 also deals with the emergence of Peter ‘Star Lord’ Quill’s father Ego, played by Kurt Russell. As the team attempts to escape their pursuers, Ego contacts Quill and explains to him his alien heritage. It’s at this plot point from which the team splintering occurs. While Gomorra, Drax and Star Lord go off to learn more about Ego and where Quill comes from, Groot and Rocket go on a separate adventure that eventually reunites them with the Ravager leader Yondu. It is this split up that I believe weakens the film, if only a little bit. Because the first film had these splintered characters coming together to save the universe, I wanted to see more of how their team dynamic had evolved since we last saw them in 2014. It also doesn’t help that, when splitting up a team like this, you inevitably split the screen time for each character.
The idea of what makes a family is an important theme within Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If the first movie was about establishing a team, then the second it about that team becoming a family and solidifying it. The only thing that didn’t make too much sense to me was the relationship between Rocket and Peter. I would have thought that, after the first movie, they would be closer but they still have some tension between them. However, this tension gets resolved in the end of the movie in a satisfying way. There are other nice beats in the film too: Peter bonds with his father, and Drax’s past is expanded on as we learn about his family and his interactions with Mantis, Ego’s assistant. Rocket, teams up with Yondu and through their dynamic, we learn more of their feelings towards Star-Lord. Gomorra and Nebula reunite as the reason the Guardians agree to protect these interstellar batteries was because their reward was getting Nebula. We see where Nebula’s hate comes from and see the two women’s relationship as children.
Overall this is a film that isn’t unlike the experience of eating chocolate: the first bar was amazing but the second one seems to not be as satisfying. Everything you like about the first one is back, including a line said by Drax that had me laughing out loud during the climactic ending. The filmmakers do try and remedy the trend of lackluster villains that Marvel is known for usually, having a more fleshed out main villain compared to the first film’s Ronan the Accuser. If you liked the first Guardians, it’s a must watch but if you’re unsure, I still say see it. It’s a fun action packed sci-fi movie following a goofy pack of mercenaries with a talking raccoon and a little baby alien tree set to one of the best soundtracks in blockbusters.