MCU Film Retrospective: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017) by James Gunn

*** spoilers below the cut ***

  • Directed by: James Gunn
  • Starring:
    • Chris Pratt as Peter Quill | Star-Lord
    • Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet
    • Michael Rooker as Yondu
    • Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon
    • Vin Diesel as Baby Groot | Teenage Groot
    • Zoe Saldana as Gamora
    • Karen Gillan as Nebula
    • Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
    • Pom Klementieff as Mantis

Synopsis: After saving Xandar from Ronan’s wrath, the Guardians are now recognized as heroes. Now the team must help their leader Star Lord (Chris Pratt) uncover the truth behind his true heritage. Along the way, old foes turn to allies and betrayal is blooming. And the Guardians find that they are up against a devastating new menace who is out to rule the galaxy. (IMDB)

The Good:

  • Baby Groot: Seriously, this little guy was so damn cute! I made the most embarrassing noises every time he was on screen because he was so freaking adorable! In some ways, I liked him even more in this film than in the first because once again, Groot has to save the day. He’s tiny, surprisingly violent and he almost screws some things up but he’s trying and it’s adorable! I think we got just enough of him in this film and the intro was the cutest thing I’ve seen all year.
  • Yondu: The stand out character in this film, in my opinion. Michael Rooker did a fantastic job in a year that was all about the reluctant father figure. We got Logan, later on – Tony Stark in Homecoming, Batman in Lego Batman and here we have Yondu begrudgingly admitting that he looked out for Peter Quill because he saw him as his son. I mean, it was pretty obvious from the get go but they did so much more with this character in this film and I loved every second of it. There were several action scenes in this film but the scene on the ship with the Reavers and his quiver was the most interesting of them all, to me. The scenes with him and Rocket were great, as well. Plus, I saw “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all” all over Twitter for two weeks straight after this movie came out.
  • More of Nebula and Gamora: I wanted so much more of them in the first film. Marvel’s been building up Thanos and the threat of the Infinity Gauntlet for like 13 movies now and his adopted daughters have gotten the smallest amount of screentime. It doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, this film gave us some more insight into why Nebula seems to hate Gamora so much. Gamora was the perfect daughter, the perfect fighter and whenever Nebula lost a fight against her, Thanos would replace one of Nebula’s parts with a prosthetic. Over time, Nebula resented the fact that Gamora seemingly didn’t care about that and always had to win. The moment when Nebula tells Gamora that she never wanted to win, she only wanted a sister was actually a really compelling emotional moment. It made me want 10x more of their relationship in this film. Zoe and Karen are incredibly talented so it sucks Gunn seems to be ignoring them.
  • The Twist: Kurt Russell was a pretty okay villain. I haven’t read a lot on Peter Quill so I didn’t know what Ego had done to Peter’s mother. In some ways, I wanted more of Peter having Ego’s powers but I think they used them well enough. The end battle was pretty cool and very colorful. Interestingly enough, I buy the relationship between the team even more than I did in the first movie.

The Bad:

  • Soundtrack: Amazingly enough, the audience seems to be a 50/50 split on whether this soundtrack was better than the first. To me, with the exception of “Brandy” and “Mr. Blue Sky”, I paid little to no attention to the music in this film. I think the first one used the music a lot better. I bought the first soundtrack on the way to my car because I loved it that much. I listen to it and I remember the scenes for “Moonlight Daydream”, “Come and Get Your Love”, “I’m Not in Love”, “ABC” and “Ain’t No Mountain” was timed perfectly in Guardians of the Galaxy. With this one, I think they focused less on the music because they wanted more focus on Peter and the significance of “Brandy” but it didn’t incentivize me to buy this soundtrack and I still haven’t.
  • Drax: I get it, if you don’t want a Punisher style story about this guy getting revenge for his family’s deaths, there’s not much to do with this guy. His schtick is essentially Overly Literal Man and they stick him with Peter who’s sarcastic about everything. Some of this stuff is funny but when they paired him with Mantis it got mean. He calls her ugly to her face and while it may have been to try to distance himself from the fact that he liked her, it was just rude. I didn’t laugh once at his parts with her because she barely got two lines in this movie and most of her screen time was spent with people saying mean spirited things about her.
  • Jokes: Not all of the jokes landed for me in this film and they even resorted to toilet humor at one point. I don’t know if they were going for a younger audience but wow.
  • This didn’t feel like a movie: This felt like an episode of television. Never has an MCU sequel felt more like a sequel to me. This seemed like a one and done film and in some ways, that could be considered a good thing. A lot of people stressing comic book film fatigue talk about hating that every MCU film has to have about 100 easter eggs setting up future films and “for the love of Thor, why can’t they just make a film that stands on it’s own”. Maybe James Gunn listened because this film felt like none of the events in it would carry over into the next film or Infinity Wars. Everyone that joined up with the crew in this film (save Mantis) is gone by the time the film ends. Peter meets his father – his father dies. Nebula comes after Gamora – the film ends with Nebula leaving. Yondu comes to save Peter – Yondu dies. The end credit scene sets up Adam Warlock so we’ll see if that really goes somewhere in the next films.

Is it a recommend?

Eh – maybe? Just for some context, I’ve seen 8 films this year and this is one of the ones I haven’t wanted to see again. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me once it was over but if you enjoyed the first one, it’s worth seeing once. At least for Baby Groot.

Score: 7.5/10

 

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