To be perfectly honest, I feel a lot like I am punching above my weight class here.
Marvel Studios has completely and utterly controlled the box office and public attention since Iron Man’s debut in 2008, the year I went to see it at age 10. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has just been a constant in my life to look forward to for a lot of what I remember- how am I supposed to its most recent entry, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 apart?
After a moment of focused objectivity, I tried to look at the film on its own merits, not as the megaton studio backing it or as the original blockbuster it is serving as a highly clamored for sequel to. On its own, pretending it is isolated in time, look at it critically. Then, of course, the process becomes complicated again, when the first objective line of thought is simply “How the hell did this get made?”
The titular superhero team consists of a wise-cracking outlaw, a green-skinned assassin, a talking raccoon, a giant (also talking) tree, and Dave Bautista. And they are in space.
This absurd formula worked for the same crew in the past, not because it was so wild and different, but because writer-director James Gunn had the freedom to properly deliver on his passion for the illogical team and was able to make the film he was looking to.
Given the above description, it can be easily said that Disney and Marvel took a massive gamble in greenlighting 2014’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, but it was one that paid off in spades, having brought in $770 Million despite minimal brand recognition (who, really, had heard of the Guardians of The Galaxy before the movie).
Vol. 2 picks up an indeterminate but short amount of time after the first film, with its heroes living up the praise of being saviours of the galaxy and continuing to adventure across the cosmos even as their pasts haunt them each individually. These two elements, of high-flying superhero action and character-driven family drama are, however again illogically, paired well.
A great deal of credit is due for the success to the performers in the film; Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista all deliver emotive, full-bodied performances that they seem born for. Bradley Cooper’s voice as Rocket Raccoon is again stellar, and Vin Diesel’s gravelly voice seems cranked through several sliders in order to get Baby Groot, but the results pay off for an adorable, potent source of humour throughout the film. The powerful supporting cast is bolstered even further by cameos galore (somehow, they got Sylvester Stallone). Lovingly masterminded by Gunn, Guardians manages to balance action and comedy without sacrificing its plot integrity. From its very opening scenes, mirroring and rivalling the original’s, Gunn sets the tone with music, humour and superhuman feats galore.
As enjoyable as it is, it is impossible to ignore how wacky and ridiculous Guardians is. Remembering the character list as described above, the sequel doubles-down on the weirdness, adding golden narcissists, gods who are simultaneously planets and Kurt Russell, and a hundred and a half alien species that exist entirely in the background.
A crucial element of the first film was its stellar soundtrack, rooted in the plot and entirely from the 1970’s shy of a few songs from the 1980’s towards the end of the film. Vol. 2 follows up as succintly as possible, pulling more from the 80’s that complement the story while simultaneously being excellent on their own. The success of Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the soundtrack for Guardians Of The Galaxy was a shocker, but put ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ among other forgotten classics back into the mainstream spotlight. Having already marathoned through the soundtrack several times, I can safely say that one should be prepared to repeat history.
Mastering past successes and blazing brave new trails at the same time, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is everything Marvel and newcomers (should they exist) could ask for. Shy of Kurt Russell being their father, of course.
Better Than: DC’s attempt to copy the formula of the first movie, Suicide Squad, by so so much.
Not as Good as: Guardians Of The Galaxy, the original that I would place higher by a razor thin margin
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