When I first saw Guardians of the Galaxy I 2014, I'd not seen anything Marvel in years. Not since Iron Man. And when I saw it, it was a followable story without me needing to know ANYTHING about Marvel. It did a good job telling its story, introducing and developing its characters, and it didn't need to unload all this information that I would have had to see the other movies to understand. This movie? Honestly it's a bit of a mess in that retrospect. And I think that comes from the fact that there are just so many characters they're trying to flesh out in this movie. New and old. The film does do a good job in developing these characters out, and developing their relationships with one another... but honestly that's all it kinda does right, because the story seems to go all over the place.
The story's main focus is of course Peter Quill's father being revealed and how they bond, and again the relationship they develop is rally believable and well done, but they also throw in this Raveger subplot which is barely touched throughout the film, these high priestess aliens that are absolutely forgettable (and it doesn't help that it seems they'll be back), and....(sigh).... baby Groot.
Who thought this would be a good idea? Let me take a step back here, because thankfully, Baby Groot doesn't take center stage so much of the film. He's not exactly the biggest focus. But when he IS, it can be very annoying. The opening sequence of the movie, we see the Guardians battling this big alien monster for some compensation, but instead of actually showing us that battle.... Baby Groot is the focus of the screen as he dances to the usual 1970's classic pop/rock. An obvious callback to the first film. I don't know why. It wasn't that funny then, and it's certainly not funny now. Seriously, no one was laughing in the theater at this part. And it goes on for quite a while too. It got stupidly annoying. And honestly, so did Groot. How did one of the most badass characters of the first film stoop like this? He has a few good moments, but everything that made him a genuine awesome character last film is gone here. "Travis, it's because he's a baby!" Yeah. And it was a bad move. What would you rather watch, Groot impaling multiple enemies through the chest with his arm, flinging them around a hallway, or a mini groot that is very much just eye candy, and takes out ONE single bad guy in this movie? In a Marvel movie, what do you think I'm gonna choose???
Sorry, I had to get Baby Groot out of my system. He's easily my biggest problem with this movie.
If you want some other criticism, I don't exactly care for the jubilee of CGI used either. I'm not gonna pretend that Marvel movies know when enough is enough in CGI, but when you have sequences that serve little more than to seemingly pad out the runtime and do their best to get a giggle from the viewer, I will dock points. There's a sequence I which Rocket and Yondu need to make a jump through space, and the sequence involves the distortion of their faces, and... It looks like it came straight out of the late 90's. If that's not enough, some of the landscapes and environments don't exactly wow me either. There's just not a lot to convince me that their world is real. Too much CGI... and this is coming from a guy who doesn't often complain of the overuse of CGI...
And finally, though it's growing on me, on be of the biggest aspects of this film kinda fell short for me. The soundtrack. I wasn't alone in 2014 when I praised the selection of pop and classic rock showcase on that wonderful little cassette tape. It showcased quite a bit of fun stuff, from David Bowie, to Norman Greenbaum, to the Runaways, to 10cc. It's a wonderful soundtrack. And while this film's soundtrack is charming in its own ways, it does kinda fall short for me. I had quite a wishlist of artists I'd hoped to see featured, and not one of them was featured. (For the record I'm not saying this soundtrack sucks because nothing I hoped would be on there made it, I'm saying I had a big list of potentials, and nothing made it to my surprise honestly) The music is still fun to listen to, with nice hits from Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra, and George Harrison, among others, but there are songs I feel may have been misselected. Even the stuff I wasn't familiar with in the last film's soundtrack managed to impress me. I'm not really getting that same feeling here. Again, it is growing on me, and it is not at all a bad soundtrack, it just lacks the magic I feel of the first one.
Truthfully, I know I've been a bit critical in this review, and yes, I stand by that criticism, but this film is still a lot of fun. It does what the first film does in pushing that limit of fully embracing the fact that it is indeed a comic book movie. The humor can vey much revolve around that. In 2014, when I saw Guardians, I said it was about as literal a comic book movie as one could get, and that feeling is still there. There is very funny, unexpected humor (even if a lot of the humor centers on Baby Groot, and penis jokes.... yeah that was a thing). The action is tons of fun. From the fun space combat to the gunfights on the ground. And I will say that the big climax at the end of the film? It's great. They say that Marvel suffers from bad villains. I think they hit the target here.
But of course, I think this film's biggest strength is it's character development. The relationship between characters of the last film incredibly fleshed out. I found myself rooting for characters I never thought I'd root for. And even if a lot of these characters just let out as bunch of expositional backstories at times, I really did connect with all of them at one point or another. The film did get emotional on more than one occasion, and it does hey me very much excited to see what's coming in the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and it gets me excited for the next Avengers film. Here's hoping it delivers.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earns a high three star rating out of four for me. The story is jumbled, but it is held up with the fun I've come to expect from both Marvel movies, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Would the solid story have been appreciated? Absolutely. Should some of the bloated sequences here have been cut? Sure. I mean... There's like five post credit scenes that barely do anything for any future story, except maybe one. But it's held up, it's fun, and I guess I couldn't ask for anything else. I will say my expectations for the third film that's been announced well be higher, even if the magic of the first film may not be able to be caught again, but I will expect more than what I got here. Don't get me wrong. This is a fun movie, but it does suffer the common problems of most sequels. And with some of these problems seemingly fixable, I will say I hope next time, we will get a bit more magic than what we got here.
Feel free to request a film you'd like me to view I the near future. Leave a comment down below, expressing your own thoughts on the film, and as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 3/4