MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” stars Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Passengers), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek Into Darkness), Dave Bautista (Spectre, The Man with the Iron Fists), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, American Sniper), Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black), Michael Rooker (Cliffhanger, Jumper), Karen Gillan (Oculus, Doctor Who [TV series]), Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight, Death Proof), Pom Klementieff (Old Boy, Hacker’s Game), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Escape Plan), Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby , Everest), Chris Sullivan (The Drop, Morgan), and Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls [TV series], Super). It is written and directed by James Gunn (Super, Slither). The Guardians are back and bigger than ever in this high caliber sequel of epic proportions. When Quill (Pratt) is reunited with his father, Ego (Russell), he is thrilled as he has found his home. However, not everything seems right underneath the surface. With this discovery also comes the hunt on the Guardians posed by the Sovereign, who have enlisted the Ravagers to do their bidding.
Man, the hype surrounding this film was high. As you all should know, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is my favorite Disney Marvel movie for many reasons. It was an underdog, and wowed on many levels, most likely because no one knew what the heck it would be like. Now that we are familiar with these characters and the atmosphere they preside, this feature needed to step up its game in order to provide fresh, fun, and solid material that will harken the first adventure. Did it? For the most part, yes, however it did not top nor come close to its predecessor. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was given what the first one seemed to want before it was screened: a larger budget, an abundance of visual effects, and a big cult following. When your story becomes less constrained, creativity can be challenged and at most times given better treatment. With this feature, I could tell that James Gunn was given more wiggle room and opportunities, and with that came many story elements. There is Quill and his father, Gamora (Saldana) and her sister, the Ravagers, the Sovereign, and Yondu (Rooker) to deal with in this gigantic plot of a film, and at times it felt too congested. There’s so much going on in this release that it made it feel both fast and loose. Sure, there is a big baddie to deal with, but there are also two other groups of foes to give the spotlight to, and this can cause problems when making a tightly knit, well-structured story. That’s not to say that this movie has no structure; it has a beginning, middle, and end that are relatively clear, but it is all guided by character development rather than a strict execution of “there’s the bad guy, let’s figure out how to stop him and carry out our plan,” like in the first one. In a way, it’s what makes this sequel so unique from other Marvel films, which follow the same execution time after time. I’m a lover of character development, and seeing these space vigilantes go back at it again was a treat. I learned more of them and even watched them mold into better beings. Drax (Bautista) has become more comedic and offered plenty of laughs, Rocket (Cooper, Gunn) has issues with being nice, Quill and Gamora are figuring out their “unspoken thing,” and Groot (Diesel) is…well, a cute baby. There’s still the comradery between these individuals, and it was easily the best part of the release. All of the acting was top-notch as well, and the newbies to the club were great. I loved Kurt Russell and his role (which shouldn’t disappoint comic book fans), Mantis (Klementieff) was interesting, and Sylvester Stallone was Stallone, so you can’t argue with that. I was entertained throughout this joy ride as I got to explore different worlds, witness more humor, and see some amazing visual effects. I will admit that there were a bit too many special effects in this; so much so that almost every shot was taken in front of a green screen. Most of it was great, though you can always tell what’s CGI and what’s not. I would’ve loved more practicality to really ground this feature, but at least the effects used weren’t terrible (save for a few moments). As for the music, specifically Awesome Mix Volume Two, it was pretty good. Volume One will always be classic, though I loved some of the tracks used for this film, and the introduction was really good to watch. Some songs I enjoyed included “Mr. Blue Sky,” The Chain,” “Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang,” and “Father and Son” by Yusuf/Cat Stevens. They are what breathed life into this picture at times and are definitely going to be fun to listen to long after watching the movie. When it comes down to it, you should never expect a sequel to top the original, let alone be spectacular. If you walk in knowing it’s a sequel and what comes with that realization, you’ll have a better time and may even exceed your expectations. I had high expectations for this, and even though they weren’t met entirely, I still had fun. This is a better sequel than most in how it’s different, has a further development of its characters, and explores more into the galaxy. If you were a fan of the first, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one and if not…well…I don’t know what to say. Sorry? I’m just content with what I saw and will be filled with happiness when I think back on certain scenes this sequel did greatly with (most of which visual effects were used to create beautiful shots). Thanks James Gunn for another fun adventure. I look forward to the next outing. FINAL SCORE: 85%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: