For those of you who don’t know, Guardians of the Galaxy is my favourite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whilst in terms of objective quality films like The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War are better, Guardians of the Galaxy is just what I like seeing in films. Everything about Guardians of the Galaxy felt designed to appeal to what I like in films. Naturally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 became one of my most anticipated films, although there was an element of apprehension as this time the surprise that helped make the first film so strong for me would be missing. Thankfully, I didn’t have much to worry about. Whilst I don’t think it has the same charm that the first film does, this is a more than worthy follow up and is up there with the best of the MCU.The film takes place a few months after the events of the first Guardians of the Galaxy with the characters as heroes-for-hire, picking up with them enacting a job protecting highly powerful batteries for a group called The Sovereign, in exchange for Nebula. After Rocket steals some of the batteries, the Sovereign attack them, but they are saved by Ego, the Living Planet, Quill’s Dad, who wants to connect with Quill. At the same time though, Yondu and the Ravagers are hired by the Sovereign to find the Guardians, and there are concerns over Ego’s true intentions, mainly as the Guardians have more contact with Mantis, Ego’s empathetic ‘pet’, Now this film does not have the same charm that the first Guardians of the Galaxy did, but it never would have. The charm of the first film came from how unexpectedly brilliant it was and it remains my favourite film in the MCU. This one though does come really close to surpassing the quality of the first film. The family elements that helped make the first film so strong are carried over here and expanded upon. We gain a greater insight into Quill’s issues with his dad being absent, which helps give his scenes with Ego more emotional weight, whilst also expanding upon his relationship with Yondu. We also get more backstory for Nebula, expanding upon her sibling rivalry with Nebula, showing how that rivalry really messed Nebula up. We also get some more world building for other elements of the MCU, mainly getting a better understanding of the hierarchy of the Ravagers and the relationship Yondu has with them. That’s not to say the film hasn’t lost the comedic edge of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, far from it. In some regards, this film is funnier than the first one, a lot of the comedic timing is better paced and you see how comfortable the actors are with their characters which adds to the humour.
Speaking of the cast, once again we get a top notch cast. As Quill, Chris Pratt continues the comedic edge of the character, showing him to be a bit less incompetent this time, whilst also showing a darker, emotional edge through his relationship with Ego. Zoe Saldana as Gamora gives a strong performance, but her character isn’t the best written. Dave Bautista is the comedic highlight of the film, having all of the best lines as Drax, adding a bit of wit to his overly literal mindset, whilst also showing depth through backstory of his family. This is also helped by the relationship with Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, who’s a great new addition to the cast, her awkward nature fitting with how her character was raised by Ego. Vin Diesel continues to make Groot his most compelling character, the modulation of his voice for this version of Groot adding to the comedy of the film. Bradley Cooper as Rocket meanwhile has some of the best moments in the film continues the snarky arsehole nature of the character well and the scenes between him and Yondu are great fun. Speaking of which, Michael Rooker is great as Yondu, although to explain why would be to spoil the film so I won’t go into much detail, whilst Karen Gillan gives Nebula the emotional depth that helps her character arc work so well. As Ego, Kurt Russell does a great job at showing the fatherly affection he has for Quill and the love he had for Quill’s mum, along with the nature of what is essentially a God, although to say more would spoil the film. There are also fun performances from Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn and Tommy Flanagan rounding out the cast.
On a technical level, this continues the strong trend of the MCU. James Gunn has clearly become more comfortable behind the camera this time around, the direction of the action scenes in particular having a better use of scene geography than the first film, aided by the solid CG work during the action scenes. The CG for Ego’s planet is excellent throughout, working with Russell’s performance so you understand that the planet is an extension of Ego. The make-up work is once again excellent, both for the main characters and for the background members of the Sovereign and the Ravagers, with the costume and set design adding to this, with there being a bit of an 70s/80s arcade vibe to some of the sets this time around which is a lot of fun to watch. Then there’s Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 2. One of the best elements of the first Guardians of the Galaxy was Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1. The music selection did a great job of building the tone of the film, a great mix of irreverence and sincerity, all of it adding to the story. With Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 2 , this trend is continued, with some of my favourite songs, such as Mr Blue Sky and The Chain, being included, with songs like Father and Son adding to the emotional weight of the film.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a more than worthy follow up to the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Whilst it could never live up to the high quality of the first film, mainly as the element of surprise present in the first film is no longer there, along with some of the characters in this film not being as interesting as those in the first one, the strong humour and family dynamic of the Guardians is carried over and there are some elements where this film surpasses the first one, mainly the villains. As a complete package, it’s not as solid as the first film, but it is still a brilliant film and easily in the top tier of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
My Rating: 5/5