Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Director: James Gunn
Running Time: 136 mins
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is an American film and the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the team continue saving planets across the galaxy, they run into Ego, the man who holds the key to Peter Quill’s true heritage, and the possibility to change the future of the Guardians forever.
When the first Guardians Of The Galaxy hit cinemas across the world, it felt like a complete revolution in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its impact on the series’ films is as clear as ever today. Unfortunately, its sequel doesn’t feel quite as fresh, with a bigger blockbuster vibe and a less characterful story. It’s a real slow-burner, but it does eventually get into the sort of stride you want, often matching and even bettering its predecessor in a hugely exciting race to the finish.
But let’s start with the more disappointing half of the film, the first half. My expectations for this film were pretty high given Marvel’s track record and how much I liked the original Guardians Of The Galaxy. The problem is, however, that this movie just doesn’t really go anywhere for the best part of an hour, trying a little too hard to emulate its predecessor in an excessively joke-heavy opening that’s just not as fun as it thinks it is.
Now, it’s not an awful opening to the movie, and there are still a good few laughs and bursts of action throughout, but by Marvel’s high standards, it’s a bit of a disappointment, jumping around randomly between three very disjointed stories, all the while firing relatively underwhelming jokes at you every second and not doing enough to instill your interest in this new story with more character development, as well as a return to the underdog vibe that made the original feel so great.
Fortunately, however, things really do turn around come the second half of the movie, and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 turns into one of the most entertaining of all of Marvel’s blockbusters. After a hilarious and exhilarating spark of action halfway through, the film suddenly becomes full of joy and imagination again, whilst also managing to pick up its humour, and even introduce numerous both intriguing and even emotional story lines that make the run to the end so much fun to watch.
Yes, the second half of the movie is a little more generic of Marvel, particularly in comparison to the first half which tries something different, albeit ineffective. However, Marvel’s formula is so solid, and with a film full of talent, from the cast to the very passionate director, as well as that unforgettable soundtrack, you won’t even notice it given how much fun it is as an action and comedy extravaganza.
And then, there is the impressively emotional side to the story. The first half definitely doesn’t do the gravity of some of the story’s twists justice, but the latter half takes all of the plot’s ideas and runs with them perfectly. Not only learning more about Peter Quill and his heritage, we get an impressive and genuinely intriguing look into the relationship between sisters Gamora and Nebula, Rocket Raccoon’s own feelings, Yondu’s personal history, and even a surprising amount of emphasis on newcomer Mantis, a welcome addition to the franchise.
Of course, this film wouldn’t be what it is without the performances. Chris Pratt is excellent once again as Peter Quill, but he’s well-matched by all of his co-stars this time around as well. Zoe Saldana is huge fun as Gamora, Bradley Cooper’s voice work as Rocket is fantastic, Dave Bautista’s brilliantly deadpan Drax is hilarious, and the likes of Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff and Kurt Russell all bring some brilliant talent to their roles, making this one of the best-acted Marvel movies of all.
And finally, we have to talk about the way this film looks. James Gunn did a brilliant job with the first movie by thrusting us into a vibrant and imaginative world that felt enough like Star Wars to be nostalgic but different enough to be fresh, but he really pushes the boat out with this sequel.
Apart from travelling to all sorts of new planets, the film is an insane kaleidoscope of colours from start to finish. Sometimes, in the more CGI-heavy sequences, it can get a little too much and be a little distorting (reminiscent of the final act of Doctor Strange), but then there are some utterly beautiful set pieces where the characters act out in front of some stunningly colourful and beautifully intricate backdrops.
As crazy and chaotic as this film looks from time to time, there are always moments of quiet reflection that are a visual marvel on every occasion.
In fact, that’s a pretty accurate summary of the whole film. Whilst the first half is a little too slow at getting into an effective groove, messily jumping between different stories and hurling jokes at you like a tennis ball machine, the film both settles down and picks itself up in the latter half. With some thrilling action, hilarious comedy and beautiful visuals, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 eventually undoes its mistakes and makes for yet another brilliantly entertaining chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.