Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Tuesday 9 May 2017 by

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, James Gunn, Film, Movie

Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a sleeper hit, at least in Marvel film terms, as no one really knew what to expect. People questioned how would audiences take to a talking raccoon and a tree with a limited vocabulary. It tuned out that people loved the film, oddball characters and all. Director James Gunn created an exciting, feel-good sci-fi adventure romp that left people smiling on the way out of the cinema. Arguably something that hadn’t been achieved since Star Wars. This means that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a weight of expectation on it that its predecessor lacked. Fortunately the film is very much equal to the task.

Despite the fact that there are multiple battles with fleets of spaceships and struggles against ravenous space monsters this manages to feel like a more understated film than the original. This is mainly due to their being more quieter moments between the fantastically staged action set pieces where the audience gets to learn a little more about what makes these people tick. It shows why, despite their regular bickering, the Guardians need each other because they each have their unique emotional damage. Together they support one another in that way that only family can. Gunn deftly handles the tone of these moments, they are touching without ever becoming schmaltzy or twee. It helps show some growth and evolution for the characters while still allowing them to be the same characters that we fell in love with in the first film.

The original film made a megastar out of Chris Pratt from the moment he pressed play on his Walkman and he continues to be a fantastic leading man here. Not since Harrison Ford has there been an actor who can be iconically cool and a total dork at the same time while making it look effortless. Beneath all his bravado you can still see the wide eyed little boy who has never quite got over how cool being in space is. This side of him comes to the fore when he meets his father Ego, played by Kurt Russell. Russell is an inspired piece of casting, if they made Guardians in the 80s he would have made a perfect Starlord and there are shades of that in his performance as Ego. The two share some great scenes together.

The rest of the cast get a chance to shine too. Arguably the most underutilised is Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. She ends up tagging along with the Peter to visit Ego’s home but doesn’t have much to do. Her most satisfying moments are opposite Karen Gillian’s Nebula who gets to have some character development as we learn what Thanos did to her as a child and why she blames Gamora for it. Bradley Cooper’s Rocket gets to spend most of the film alongside Michael Rooker’s Yondu. Once again the combination of Cooper’s vocal performance and the stellar work of the animation team often makes you forget that Rocket is a computer generated character. The secret weapon of this film is Dave Bautista. He was a highlight of the first film and here he gets a lot of the laugh out loud moments at the beginning of the film but later on has quietly underplayed scenes of internalised emotion. The relationship he builds with Pom Klementieff as Mantis is both funny and moving. While Dwanye Johnson is the biggest film star to come from wrestling, Dave Bautista is the better actor.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is at least the equal of the original film in terms a crowd pleasing fun and in some areas it is even better. There is a stronger, more complex villain, better character building work and the ending carries more emotional weight. It shows growth without losing the essential things that made the audience want to come back in the first place. If you loved the first film then you should like this too. If you have yet to see either then you are missing out on what is currently the most fun part of the Marvel cinematic universe.

This is a guest review from Dave – you can follow him on Twitter @DaveJProbert

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