Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Spoiler-Free Review

Guardians of the Galaxy is a worthy sequel to the 2014 instant classic and is filled with humour and heart… 

 

Writer/director James Gunn had a tough job on his hands with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The first movie defied predictions that it was to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first flop and instead became one of the franchise’s biggest successes, winning over fans and critics alike. How could a sequel live up to the high standard and hype generated by the first film? Well, as it turns out, Vol. 2 lives up to the original movie pretty frickin’ well. Only we don’t mean frickin’.

We will say up front that this is definitely not a copy of the first film as it embraces a completely different structure, something that brings with it plusses and minuses. While the first movie was a fast-moving caper movie, with various parties after the powerful Orb that the Guardians had taken hold of, Vol. 2 takes the time to build up its plot naturally. As such, the first half of the movie, while still enjoyable, doesn’t have much in the way of forward momentum. Rest assured, though, things coalesce in the second half to form one of the strongest, most thrilling, most emotional climaxes of any MCU movie.

As with Guardians, the success of Vol. 2 rests on its characters; that unlikely band of big, clashing personalities. Each of the five Guardians gets a chance to shine here, as their character arcs and dynamics with the rest of the team are nicely moved along. In particular, Peter bears the brunt of the plot, Drax provides the belly laughs and Baby Groot is the ridiculously adorable mascot of the movie. As the promotional material has made clear, the Guardians get some honorary new members to boot: namely, Yondu, Nebula and Mantis. With so many characters to juggle, it means we get some interesting, and often unexpected pairings, all of which really work. Such as Peter and Ego, Rocket and Yondu, Drax and Mantis and Gamora and Nebula.

As you might expect, the cast is reliably excellent throughout. Obviously, we already know that the central players – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel – are fantastic so those that impressed me most here were probably the supporting actors that manage to make us care about their character as much as the main team. For instance, Michael Rooker does a great job expanding on Yondu’s brash ways from the first film and Kurt Russell is terrific as Peter’s god-like father Ego, a complex character with something of his son’s charm. As a fan of Karen Gillan’s from her time on Doctor WhoI’m pleased to say she does the best with her expanded role as Nebula.

But it is thanks to James Gunn’s stellar writing and direction that the whole thing works as well as it does. What Vol. 2 has over many competing superhero movies is its tight handle on its tone. Gunn’s script generally always knows how to balance humour and heart without undercutting either. The dialogue is sparkling throughout, as certain lines will make you cry while others will have you laughing out loud. The action sequences are also top-draw and are particularly memorable when Gunn decides to subvert the norm as the film’s irreverent sense of humour slips into his direction.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is absolutely one of the finest MCU movies, then, as it excels in every area you could hope for. It’s not perfect – a few jokes here and there don’t quite land, the runtime probably could have been chopped down by ten minutes or so – but no film is. If you pushed me, I would have to say the first movie is better, simply due to its freshness, but it’s a close-run thing. After seeing Vol. 2, you’ll still be hooked on that feeling.

 

Rating:

 

P.S. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also excels at those usual MCU staples. It contains what is probably the finest Stan Lee cameo of all time and its post-credits scenes raise the bar ridiculously high for upcoming films to try and match.

 

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12 thoughts on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Spoiler-Free Review

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  1. Saw it yesterday.
    Absolutly fantastic movie. From It’s adorable and comedic opening to its emotion filled end I was in.
    I really enjoyed how it slowed down and allowed the characters to develop. Guardians was so intense that you barely got below the surface but still managed to love everyone. Now with some time to slow down they got the chance to shine as people.
    Oh and those post credit sequences were amazing. perfectly laid out and excellent references. Oh and the stan lee of it all. That was clever!

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    1. Totally agree with you! It was a risky move to dial down the pace but the characters are strong enough to make it work. I was really impressed, in particular, by how much it makes us care for Yondu.
      The Stan Lee stuff is awesome! Only Guardians would give him such a crazy, outlandish cameo.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well played risk I really liked it.
        It was a real surprise how much yondu became a sympathetic character. I don’t know if that’s just from being underwritten in the first one. Regardless it’s a fantastic turn!

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      2. Yeah, Yondu wasn’t a character I particularly liked in the first one but the actor and the writing really lift him in the sequel.

        I really hope we don’t have too long to wait until Vol. 3!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I had no opinions on yondu. The whistling wad cool but apart from that I never had strong feelings either way. Come the 2nd and they get straight to making him a far more well rounded character.

        Well it was 3 years between the first 2. well have to wait until at least after infinity wars. Maybe 2020.
        Unless they manage to slot it in between infinity 1 and 2. I think all the actors will be game and the story on offer seems like a massive one. I’m actually more interested in that than thanos.

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      4. Very true.

        Yeah, I guess 2020 is likely. I think you’re right. The Russo Bros movies have been really solid (Winter Soldier, Civil War) so they will likely do a great job with Infinity War… but I really love the Guardians films.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Winter Soldier is still my favourite of all the MCU films. it’s an almost perfect movie. I have enormous faith that they’ll do an amazing job. They’ve totally became the premier directors in the MCU.
        Gunn exists in this wonderful pocket universe that’s still connected but has alot more freedoms. The thor movies never really tapped into that but maybe ragnarok will be the big step for that franchise.

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      6. Great pick! Winter Soldier is probably one of the most well-made superhero films out there. I think you are right there – I loved Joss Whedon’s work on The Avengers but Age of Ultron wasn’t anywhere near as good. The Russos have already delivered two great movies.
        Yeah, I’m not a massive fan of the first two Thors but Ragnarok looks to be much more in the Guardians style. Though hopefully it won’t just be a cheap copy.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Agreed…. ultron was a lesser movie but even a marvel lesser is a great movie.
        The thors have been held back by what seemed to be a fear of pushing too much cosmic on the audience. once guardians hit that approach was abandoned.
        I think ragnarok will be it’s own style…. it’ll have the beats of humour but it has its own universe established…. now it can really explore and revel in the darkness of the storyline… something that was missing from dark world.

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      8. Yeah, I still had a great time with it – it just didn’t reach the first movie’s heights.

        That’s true, I think you’re right there. I found The Dark World, in particular, to be a bit forgettable.

        Ragnarok does look to be easily the best of the three. Can’t wait to see the Thor/Hulk stuff and what Loki’s up to these days.

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