Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell
Released May 5th, 2017
I was one of the few people in the universe that didn’t fall in love with the first Guardians of the Galaxy film and many of the issues I had with that movie, including the lack of real connection to the rest of the established Marvel Cinematic Universe, a smug tone, and tired humor, I found present in this sequel. I’ve enjoyed most of the films from Marvel Studios and I dig writer/director James Gunn’s other work (Tromeo and Juliet! Slither! Super!), but I just can’t climb on board the Guardians rocketship.
It comes down to the characters. I don’t like these characters. Take the Star-Lord, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). He’s not a lovable jerk, he’s just a jerk. I don’t know why anyone would think he was cool. If we’re supposed to be laughing at him, then I wish he wasn’t given so many hero moments. Drax (Dave Bautista) doesn’t work for me at all. Time and again, he belly laughs and points at everything. I don’t find his schtick funny. If I’m going to get behind a character that takes everyday sayings literally resulting in comedic effect, I’ll stick with Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is so underdeveloped we never learn anything about her other than she likes to fight and she has a sister. She seems to exist simply so Quill can have a crush on a team member. Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) was one of the standout characters from the first film and James Gunn wisely gives her a bigger part in this sequel. Nebula is the type of conflicted character you think you have figured out, then she surprises you by being kind to someone, or by firing spaceship cannons at someone’s face. I like her.
At the close of the first film, the giant walking tree Groot (Vin Diesel) had reverted back into a sapling, and Gunn’s decision to keep Groot a baby for this film is a stroke of genius that offers the movie’s funniest scenes. I appreciate that Bradley Cooper does a character voice for Rocket Raccoon (instead of just sounding like Bradley Cooper), but if you’re a big Rocket fan you should be aware he is sidelined in the sequel. He’s got a few decent scenes, but nothing close to the prison break scene in Vol. 1.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter Quill meets a Celestial being named Ego (Kurt Russell) who claims to be his father. Meanwhile, Rocket’s trying to raise Baby Groot, Gamora and Nebula are at each other’s throats, and Yondu (Michael Rooker) is trying to prove himself worthy of being an outlaw. There are so many references to “family” in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 dialogue I started to think I was watching a Fast and Furious movie.
HEY MAX CAN YOU SAY A FEW POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT THIS MOVIE, GEEZ.
Alright, here are some of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 elements I enjoyed:
- Baby Groot is endearing, fun to watch, and cute. So damn cute.
- Kurt Russell is powered by charm and when he’s on screen, so is the movie.
- James Gunn manages to insert some weird visuals into his big budget movie.
- The 5 (five!) mid-credits scenes are all fun, if short. I won’t spoil any, but I’ll say I hope they use the mid-credits version of Groot for Vol. 3.
- This movie’s subtitle could have been “Make Room for Yondu.” Michael Rooker is an incredible actor and it’s a kick seeing him play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the blue-skinned Ravager. James Gunn uses Rooker well here and even gives him the best line in the movie (you’ll know it when you hear it).
If you loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I have good news for you. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gives you more of the same, right down to the 1970s jukebox hits you’d expect. Enjoy. I’ll be standing in the corner with my head down, not joining in the intergalactic fun being had by most everyone. I am….not Groot?