The first big Marvel Cinematic Universe film of the year has finally arrived, and it’s the follow up to the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy from 2014. Many consider the first film the best Marvel, and one of the best superheroes films completely. James Gunn made a film was so fun, fresh, and original as well as doing a great job setting up this dysfunctional family in the Guardians really well.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 add to the 5 main characters from the first film. Vol. 2 includes the new characters Ego and Mantis, as well as giving both Yondu and Nebula far more fleshed out stories and arcs than the original. This meant that the film has nine major characters and their storylines to juggle and give adequate screen time to. It succeeds in doing this remarkably well, you never feel like any of these characters get shortchanged, and the all have their moments to shine. But this does come with problems as it means that there is so much going on, particularly during the first half of the film. Because there is a lot happening it sometimes doesn’t flow well and feels rushed at times. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t give you moments to breath, as the smaller character moments are where it excels, it is just that all the action feels so sudden without build up in the first half.
Some of the supporting characters in the film feel a little short changed in the amount of screen time they have, mainly Sylvester Stallone as Stakar, a high ranking ravenger. He doesn’t really have any great purpose in the film, which is strange when they got such a big name actor. It is obviously understandable as there are more important characters for the film to service, and he may become important in a future MCU film but right now it feels like a waste of someone like Stallone, as anyone could have played that role. However the additions of Mantis and Ego are great additions to the film. Kurt Russell brings a gravitas to Ego and plays of Chris Pratt brilliantly. It takes a lot to stand out amongst all the Guardian’s personalities, but Russell manages to.
Most importantly Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 manages to capture the same sense of fun and the humour that the first film had, although it doesn’t quite feel as fresh and out of nowhere like the original did. The comedy is absolutely on point. If you found Guardians of the Galaxy hilarious then you’re likely to find Vol. 2 hysterical from start to finish. It was nice that the character dynamics were all so well established in the first film, because this meant that Gunn was able to dive right into the fun and the comedy nearly from the outset. Rocket and Quill’s bickering makes up a lot of the comedy in the first half of the film and Pratt and Bradley Cooper have such great rapport. Baby Groot is also hilarious, whilst managing to be so adorable and Mantis is also a great addition from the comedy standpoint. But it is Dave Bautista who absolutely steals the show. Once again he gives such a brilliant comic performance and has many of the funniest moments in the film.
But Gunn manages to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 not only funny, but also a great story as well. The latter half of the film really works as a great resolution to all the different storylines that are going on. The film is really broken down into duos whose stories all feel very disparate and individual, but come together really well in the finale. There are obviously still interactions between the other characters, and you really get the sense that this is a slightly dysfunctional family, with family being a key theme in the film. And all of this leads up to a finale that has genuine stakes, and a hell of a lot of emotional resonance for the audience going into it. Something that has been all too rare in Marvel films recently.
Whilst it doesn’t manage to live up to the freshness of the originality of the first, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does succeed in being absolutely riotous fun. It brings the same level of humour and ups the Science-Fiction epicness, whilst still managing to tell a great story, making Guardians 2 one of the most entertaining cinemas trips you’ll have this summer.