Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Cover

I’m really happy to report that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a solid entry into the series. I don’t think anyone was worried about that, but if you were, you can put your fears aside. That said, this manages to differentiate itself from the original. The acting and structure are stronger, but the music and humor elements struggle.

While I would not say this is better or worse, the way that Guardians 2 approaches its actions scenes is different. Guardians 2 starts with baby Groot dancing to a musical number while a typical monster fight rages in the background. The fight is mostly blurred out, it’s your typical CGI action sequence that is almost boring at this point. However, with us focused on baby Groot dancing in front of it, we get a glimpse of something small in high focus. This is a great metaphor for the movie as a whole, it’s all about looking at what’s really happening despite explosions happening all around.

It works well, and Gunn uses this technique in most of the action sequences. I was very impressed with how it showed something clever and entertaining in each major set piece. These moments where Gunn looks at only a few characters, or focuses in on the edges of a scene show an appreciation for what is important.

That said, this is an action movie, and so many viewers may not get exactly what they were expecting. Viewers who are looking for more gritty action sequences that focus on the moment to moment punches may not be as satisfied.

From a plot perspective, Guardians 2 is far more character driven than the original. We get to explore the motivations of Peter Quill and his relationship with the Guardians. Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, easily gets the best character development. These two characters are the main focus, and their stories get told in parallel. As opposed to Guardians 1, where the opening and the ending were the weakest parts, Guardians 2 holds together better for these parts. It would not be unfair to say that it doesn’t feel like much happens at all during the middle except for character development.

Personally, I prefer a more character driven work, and so for me this was a better film. It’s different, though. There are fans of the first movie who may prefer the way the original manages to keep a quicker pace. Those viewers will not be disappointed by what they get here, but there is definitely a counter argument that the original is superior. A lot of people will find themselves debating which they prefer and how much you appreciate a good character arc will be the most important factor.

Part of that is also because Volume 2 simply isn’t done as well in 2 places: music and comedy. The use of music in Guardians 1 was its core defining feature. So much so that it ended up being its greatest influence on the genre, resulting in films such as Suicide Squad. There’s a great track list here, but there isn’t a single song that stands out as the one you’re still humming when you leave the theater. In addition to that, the clips are shorter and don’t feel as essential to the scenes they are included in.

Lastly, the comedy feels a little forced. There are a lot of great laughs here, but there are times when Gunn sacrifices the flow of a scene for a joke. More than once I felt the physical humor was unrealistic enough that it broke my suspension of disbelief. It’s noticeable and definitely disruptive to the experience to have so much effort in the jokes, even if most of them are good.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a solid hit that is most definitely worth watching. This is arguably better than the original, despite its flaws, it is an excellently constructed adventure story. Out of the their rapidly expanding catalog, this one is going to be one to remember as Marvel at their best.

Final Verdict:Another fantastic entry in the Marvel catalog that is arguably better than the original.