Should I Watch..? 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2' (2017)
What's the big deal?
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is a sci-fi superhero film released in 2017 and is the fifteenth entry in Marvel's Cinematic Universe or MCU. Obviously, it is a sequel to Marvel's earlier sleeper hit Guardians Of The Galaxy and is based on the eponymous collection of characters published by Marvel. Written and directed by James Gunn, the film's cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff. The film sees the Guardians journey across the cosmos in order to learn more about Peter Quill's parentage whilst attempting to avoid the vengeful wrath of the arrogant Sovereign race. By the end of May, the film had already earned more than $793 million worldwide with critics praising the film for its humour, cast and soundtrack as well as cementing a place in my Hall Of Fame. As of April 2017, Gunn remains committed to writing and directing a third film in the series.
What's it about?
After the events of the first film, the Guardians Of The Galaxy are working as intergalactic mercenaries who find themselves hired by the gold-skinned Sovereign race who hire them to protect crucial batteries from a vicious monster. Having succeeded, the Guardians are surprised to find their reward is none other than Nebula, Gamora's sister and daughter of Thanos whom the Sovereigns had captured earlier. However, due to Rocket insulting the arrogant nature of the Sovereigns and stealing some of their precious batteries for himself, the team are forced to flee before the Sovereign fleet begin their pursuit.
With their ship badly damaged and barely escaping with their lives, the Guardians are forced to crash on a nearby planet where they are visited by a strange man claiming to be Peter Quill's father. As Peter, Gamora and Drax investigate the man's claims (leaving Rocket and Baby Groot to repair the ship and babysit Nebula), Quill's former mentor Yondu is hired by Sovereign leader Ayesha to locate the Guardians and quickly does. But a nasty mutiny led by the treacherous Taserface puts not just Yondu's men in danger but inadvertently, the fate of the whole galaxy...
What's to like?
I'm a big fan of the first film, mainly because it was such a breath of fresh air to a series of films that were in danger of becoming dull and formulaic. The fact that it was genuinely funny, had a simply brilliant soundtrack and a fabulous cast smashing it out of the park in all areas led me to believe that it was second only to Avengers Assemble in Marvel's ever-expanding Cinematic Universe or MCU. Amazingly, the sequel still retains an element of freshness about it although whether this is because its stablemates like Ant-Man have become formulaic is a matter for debate. The fact is, this is still one of the most entertaining entries in the MCU due to its humour, cast, effects, soundtrack and refusal to blend in with the crowd.
The main cast now have more confidence in their roles although Diesel's reduced presence as Baby Groot is sadly felt - having said that, the little CG blighter makes the most of his screen-time when he is on screen. In addition to other returning stars like Rooker and Gillan, the film introduces new characters for the next instalment like Klementieff's Mantis while Russell offers a decent foil as the maniacal Ego. Like the first film, there is a sense of imagination running wild with alien worlds, colourful space scenery and battles and incredible action scenes on display which really makes the most of the big screen (it's definitely one to catch in cinemas while you can). Even director Gunn demonstrates a real flare for the screen with breath-taking shots such as the camera zooming out directly above the lay-out of a ship as Yondu's deadly flying arrow deals death to all and sundry. It's a great film to watch, regardless of whether sci-fi is your thing or not.
- Dave Bautista's makeup took just ninety minutes to apply, down from four hours for the first film. By contrast, Chris Sullivan's makeup took between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half hours to apply. Gillan's makeup also took two-and-a-half hours, down from five from the first film!
- Cooper recorded his lines wearing a motion-capture headpiece so that Rocket's voice and facial features would be perfectly synchronised. This was not done for the first film.
- Although it is not mentioned in the film, Sylvester Stallone's cameo was in the role of Stakar Ogord aka Starhawk, a high-ranking member of the Ravagers who was a member of the original Guardians in Marvel comics.
What's not to like?
There is occasionally the sense that the film is trying a little too hard to replicate the shock and awe of the first film. Nobody expected Guardians Of The Galaxy to be as good as it was so it's inevitable that this sequel lacks a little of the same surprise value but only the harshest critic would argue that this film is anything other than rehashed leftovers. Yes, there are plenty of Eighties pop-culture references and the soundtrack feels almost interchangeable with that of the first film. But who really cares if the film is as enjoyable as this? I loved the soundtrack, quite frankly.
Aside from Baby Groot stealing every scene he's in, there are also characters who feel underused and/or underwritten. Mantis, Nebula and worst of all Drax feel like bit-players while the rest occupy their space with the film's main story. At least Rocket gets an amusing scene where he is ambushed by Yondu's rebellious mercs but where was Drax's big moment after the opening scene? With so many characters and side-plots running at once, the film inevitably leaves some behind. One final thing - the film ends on an unexpectedly emotional climax that brings the viewer down somewhat after two hours of having a great time. Sure, it might lead you to wanting the next one right there and now but it slightly jars with what went before.
Should I watch it?
Even if the first film passed you by, this explosive follow-up is more than capable of blowing you away with its first-class cast, enjoyable soundtrack, epic story and dazzling effects. It might lack the surprise value the first film had but that doesn't detract from a film that gives you such a good time that even non-Marvel fans will get something from it. It still doesn't feel like a connected part of the MCU (no Robert Downey Jr cameos to be found here) but with pop-up appearances from Howard The Duck, Cosmo and Stan Lee (of course), the film is all about entertaining its knowledgeable audience and boy, does it do that well.
Great For: fans of the first film, sci-fi lovers, cos players, music playlists
Not So Great For: the unimaginative, anyone expecting a cape, fans of traditional superhero films
What else should I watch?
Ever since the first Iron Man arrived in 2008, Marvel Studios have been bombarding multiplexes across the world like gamma rays to Bruce Banner. Usually, these inter-connected films focus on one character with supporting cast propping the film up - the better ones include Iron Man 3 and the first two Captain America movies - but the best ones tend to include lots of characters scrapping with each other. Without question, the best ensemble film is the all-conquering Avengers Assemble but not far behind is Captain America: Civil War.
However, not everything Marvel touches turns to superhero gold. The Incredible Hulk felt like a lazy effort altogether and wasn't helped by Edward Norton's disinterested performance, factors that probably stop Marvel from trying again with the big green dude who is crying out for a decent solo outing. Much like Black Widow but instead, Marvel give us the fairly uninspired Ant-Man which didn't really do much for the MCU as a whole. What worries me is if Marvel keep going at the rate they are, how long before they revive fourth-grade characters nobody cares about? Is anyone really desperate for a movie based on the likes of Moondragon?
Peter Quill / Star-Lord
Drax The Destroyer
Rocket Raccoon *
Baby Groot *
James Gunn *
Release Date (UK)
28th April, 2017
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero
© 2017 Benjamin Cox