After the unexpected success of what was quite possibly Marvel’s biggest gamble, it seemed almost impossible that James Gunn could top Guardians of the Galaxy, given that Age of Ultron failed to live up to the first Avengers film. Well folks, welcome to the Teminator 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only did James Gunn top the first film, but exceeded everyone’s expectations and made a sequel which managed to vault over the extremely high bar set by the original film.
I have nothing but praise for this film. I don’t think there is a bad thing I can say about it. It was perfect. The first point of praise has to go to James Gunn, whose genius script managed to bring some well-needed depth and character development to the team, especially for the minor characters like Yondu and Nebula, even giving a great deal of depth to brand new characters Mantis and Ego. Gunn also gave the film a much darker tone than the original, while still maintaining the fun and witty nature of the Guardians themselves, which is no easy task, yet he pulled it off with ease.
The chemistry between the team was perfect as always and Baby Groot stole every single scene that he was in (which isn’t really a surprise). The entire cast gave absolutely fantastic performances as their respective characters, but if I’m being totally honest, it was the supporting cast that stole the show from the main Guardians team: Michael Rooker was brilliant as Yondu, and we got to see him as a tortured soul in pursuit of redemption, which was an interesting route for the character to take. Karen Gillan shines as Nebula, bringing some desperately needed character development to the character in order to avoid the curse of the Marvel Villains before her. Kurt Russell gave a tremendous performance as Star Lord’s father and the film’s Big Bad, Ego the Living Planet, and will probably go down as one of the MCU’s best villains, alongside Loki, Zemo, Ultron and Iron Monger. Finally, newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis was one of the highlights of the film, and her relationship with Drax will be interesting to see as it develops over time.
One of the best aspects of the film was the Visual Effects. They were incredible; there was so much going on in terms of visuals but they never once looked phoney nor did they distract from the story. The scenery on Ego the Living Planet was breath-taking, and I’d make a safe bet that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 will be a hot contender for the Best Visual Effects Oscar at the end of the year.
Being the massive Marvel Comics fanboy that I am, this film was an absolute dream for Easter Egg hunting. We saw Howard the Duck again, as well as Cosmo the Space Dog, and course the Stan Lee cameo. However, those unfamiliar with the Guardians of the Galaxy comics will miss out on major references. Some will be aware that the Guardians line-up in the MCU is not the original team. The only member in the first film from the original team is Yondu (who is sporting a red fin in this film, much like his comic book counterpart). In Vol.2 we get to see many of the original Guardians team who are Ravagers in the film. Sylvester Stallone plays Star-Hawk, the leader of the original team, and the leader of the Ravagers in the film. Smallville veteran Michael Rosenbaum plays Martinex, a crystalline alien from Pluto. Pulp Fiction star Ving Rhames plays Charlie-27 (think of Hercules and Juggernaut rolled into one), and Miley Cyrus of all people as Mainframe. One of the most interesting Easer Eggs was Stan Lee’s cameo with a group of Watchers which is a nice little nod to the theory that Stan Lee is, in fact, playing Uatu the Watcher in the MCU. Possibly my favourite easter egg is the post credit scene which teases the coming of one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe; Adam Warlock. And if that doesn’t get you excited for Avengers: Infinity War, I don’t know what will.
Awesome Mix Vol.2
Maybe the one area for improvement for the film was the Soundtrack. While it did feature some absolute bangers, such as The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, Mr Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, and Bring it on Home to Me by Sam Cooke, the absence of Suffragette City David Bowie and Fox on the Run by Sweet which were both used in the trailers, was something of a let down. But this is just me nitpicking.
Once again, I have to give a perfect score of 5 Stars to the latest in the Marvel Cannon. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 proves that James Gunn and the rest of the Guardians aren’t just a one-trick-pony and can bring originality to what is essentially Marvel’s answer to Star Wars. I personally cannot wait to see what the rest of the Cosmic Marvel Universe has to offer in Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War and Captain Marvel.
Words by Anthony Cody