Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

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I’ve been pumped for this movie for a while. Though it’s not quite at the top, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite Marvel movies. I wasn’t expecting anything from the first one after I saw the trailers. I figured it was just going to be a bunch of characters I wouldn’t care about. Boy, was I wrong or what? I was so excited to see these characters back in action with James Gunn at the helm, and it was in my top five most anticipated movies of 2017. Also, I just wanted to include that this will be a spoiler-free review. I won’t be discussing any of the plot points in-depth. Later this week after I have the chance to see the movie again, I’ll be posting my spoiler-filled review. Let’s talk about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy are on their way to finding Quill’s blood father as they add some new crew members and encounter multiple brand new threats along the way.

I really wanted this movie to be one of the best in the MCU. I was really hoping it would take everything the first one did and build upon it. I thought for sure it would after hearing that it had a 100% approval rating coming out of the Disney friends-and-family screening. Well, I don’t think that this one is near as good as the first film, but I did still enjoy it. First of all, it’s about as entertaining as a Marvel film could get. There are plenty of jokes that hit, and I thought that a lot of the comedic writing was very clever and suited most of the characters extremely well. Obviously Chris Pratt as Peter Quill is always going to be an attention-stealing charisma machine. He is the centerpiece of this story, and he gives an excellent and emotional performance in this film as he discovers who he really is. I think that this is a great movie for character moments. From just about every character, we see at least one moment on each stop of the emotional spectrum. My favorite character in this one might have actually been Yondu. I think we all agreed that Yondu was awesome in the first film, but in this movie we see everything on his inside as compared to his external abilities. There is plenty of whistling going on, but there are also emotionally compelling moments where we get background and internal conflict, and I loved it. As a unit, the Guardians of the Galaxy are so much fun to watch, and they have great chemistry. I think that the family aspect worked really well because we always have that feeling that they are a cohesive group. When one hurts, they all hurt, and when one has a victory, they all have a victory. I feel the connection in my heart as well as my head, and that’s the best part about the film. I also have to mention that this movie has great action sequences. When they occur, they’re very well-directed and designed, and they’re so aesthetically pleasing. I could always tell what was happening, and I loved the scope and the camerawork. James Gunn is such a creative and colorful filmmaker, and that comes through so beautifully in this film.

Where I think this movie failed is in structure and pacing. I wouldn’t necessarily say that there are any slow moments or scenes, but the pacing is all over the place. It was almost as if they decided that the jokes were what worked in the first movie, so they took it to an entire new level. The entire first half of the film is a series of jokes after jokes after jokes, and often times they would miss or feel out-of-place. If you go into this movie hoping for a deep study in structure and storytelling, you’re not going to get that. You’re going to get a series of jokes that might miss, and you’re going to wonder where all of this is leading to. Even by the end of the movie you might be wondering what the intention was. It doesn’t seem to have a coherent path, so despite the fact that I think the writing is clever, they never picked a route. I would have expected an opening scene of comedy, then a chosen path, but it felt like a series of opening scenes or even just random sequences in general. I think it takes a lot of comedic shots, and it has definite misses. The first film took less shots but had a much higher shot percentage. Next, I thought that Karen Gillan was one of the weaker parts of the first movie along with both other villains. She gets more screen time in this movie, and she seems too far over the top. Her personality would ordinarily be a good juxtaposition to the comedic characters, but I think the performance is why the character doesn’t work. Usually what I see from Karen Gillan in other work is solid, but here, her performance doesn’t work for me. Finally, I didn’t love the soundtrack and the way the film continues to go back to it. What worked so well about the music in the first film was that whenever I heard a hit song I felt the film move to the rhythm. Ordinarily I’d say that I might not be the right audience for this soundtrack, but I knew every single song on the first one. I didn’t feel the songs move to the beat of the story, and I think that’s why they didn’t work for me. There are a few story points that I didn’t love, but I’ll probably get into those a bit more in the spoiler-filled review once the film is released.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny and entertaining with great character moments and great action sequences, but it definitely falls short of the first film. I think it falls short of the Marvel standard in general simply because it’s structure is almost nonexistent. I was expecting that after the opening sequence it would pick up the pieces and pull a coherent story together, but it never did. This movie does excel in certain areas. I was intrigued to see Peter Quill’s lineage, I loved Michael Rooker’s Yondu, Drax showed a much larger range than he did in the first film, Rocket’s self consciousness was revisited, and Baby Groot was more adorable than I even expected going in. I think screen distribution was good except for Gamora, who I wish was looked at more, and Nebula, who I wish had less time. Where I really see this movie falling is into a little hole where it’s a decent companion piece to the first film. I’ll probably still end up buying it on Blu-ray just because I have full intentions of owning every Marvel film, but when I watch all of them prior to Infinity War so that everything is fresh in my memory, I may not even touch this one because I don’t believe it will seriously figure into the overall Marvel narrative. I still think it’s an emotionally compelling character-driven film with tons of fun to offer, and I’m going to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 7/10.

Will you be checking out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Comment down in the comment section and let me know what you thought! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm