Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ~ A Review from Guest Author Peter Alden Grigsby
Before we even get into the meat of this film, I have to say that I continue to be impressed with Marvel Studios, and the cinematic universe of superheroes that they are creating. When you bring so many comic heroes (Icons really) to life on the screen, at such a frantic pace, you certainly set yourself up for a BIG ‘letdown’ or quite frankly a bomb!! (Fan boys may remember a little gem from the eighties called “Howard The Duck” – Yikes!) However, I have to say that Marvel has done a fantastic job of avoiding the normal pitfalls, and has created for itself a nice little niche’ in cinematic history!
Like with any movie that is associated with Marvel Studios, “Guardians of the Galaxy! Vol. 2”, comes with much of the inherited “hype” and “excitement”. Director James Gunn, who is relatively unknown, has really made a name for himself directing both the previous “Guardians of the Galaxy” and a confirmed sequel to this installment. He could have relaxed and just coasted on the popularity of the characters, but instead he chose to take a bunch odd-ball misfits and create some depth.
From the very outset we were provided a little bit more on the history of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and exactly how he came about his existence. This opening scene sets that stage with Peter’s mother and his father. In the first film we got snatches of his story, and not really so much about him, but his relationship with his mother. She is the one who instilled in him his ethics, morals and musical tastes, thanks to some great ‘mix’ tapes she made for him with her favorite music. Because she was his only compass, when she was taken from him by Cancer, he immediately put her on a pedestal. He has spent his life not so much ‘searching’ for his father, just more or less wondering who he was. And where his place in the Galaxy was. As the movie advances, and we discover new details about Quills life we, along with him, get to understand what a ‘Father’ really is.
Immediately after that opening scene we flash forward to ‘current time’ and are thrusted straight into a familiar line-up and setting with fellow Guardians: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) joining Quill in tackling an inter-dimensional being, as their duty. However, unlike many action films, this battle is actually a ‘background’ to Baby Groot discovering Quills mix tape of 80’s classics. Accompanied by some soothing and scene setting music the battle takes place, mostly in the background, but the focus is not on the fight but rather refreshing the viewers on the character’s relationships and chemistry.
Throughout the movie we are re-acquainted with Nebula (Karen Gillan), who we learned was actually Gamora’s sister, and Yondu (Michael Rooker), the scavenger, thief we met in the first film, who actually has an interesting connection with Quill.
We are also greeted by cameo appearances from Kurt Russell appears as Quills long lost father, a character called Ego, who may or may not be the answer to his prayers. Sylvester Stallone also appears briefly as someone from Yondu’s past, but we may see more of him in future offerings. Gunn chose to include explaining the complex relationship that transpired between sisters Gamora and Nebula; foreshadowing a larger turn of events in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) perhaps? Time will tell, but nonetheless I appreciated that it was explained in more detail.
When creating a film that is based in such drama, there is a need to give the audience a break with some humor. The main crux of this, and there was a lot of it was included definitely at the right times. Drax and Mantis (played by Marvel newcomer Pom Klementieff) had an interesting connection as their characters were constantly in turmoil, but in a playful, and almost romantic way. Rocket and Quill clashing with one another made for good viewing. Almost like a Han Solo/Luke Skywalker relationship these two can’t seem to get out of each others way, which makes for some very funny moments. We get way more insight into Rocket as well. He’s still a colossal jerk, but we are given a bit more insight as to what may have led him to be that way. And, although he is gruff, there is a sentimentality to Rocket that makes him more much more ‘human’ than anyone could have thought. Baby Groot’s inclusion kind of brought the tension between the characters back and almost simplified what was going on, as from a child’s point of view.
The ‘final’ battle is the only place that was difficult for me. It took way too long, and was a bit too cerebral at times. Some of the things that happened took way to long to transpire, and it almost felt a little forced. After all, we had seen some incredible special effects up to this point. I have to say, that although I thought the end battle scene was too long, and a little contrived, it did provide some interesting comedic moments, including an homage to Mary Poppins!
After the movie reached its conclusion it was mind boggling to see so many people walking out upon the beginning of the credits! Another one of the amazing things that Marvel Studios has done, is that it has gotten most people (at least the fan boys) to stay for the final credits! In fact Marvel has almost become synonymous with an ‘extra’ scene at the end of the film. It amazes me still that I sometimes see people waiting through credits at the end of another movie, wondering if maybe other studios had gotten the idea of a way to keep people in their seats. Marvel, however, appreciates their post-production scenes and there were a massive 5 in this movie! That’s right folks, 5 different scenes including one interesting one that sets the scene for the next installment. All in all I found this film to be immensely entertaining and funny. It also takes some two-dimensional characters and gives you much more insight into why they do what they do! It is definitely a ‘big screen’ film, so see it in a theater soon!
**Please note that I was invited to a complimentary viewing of this movie on Tuesday May 2nd 2017 so that I could bring you this review on behalf of Krista Joy at Disneyways.com. The free admission in no way influenced my review, and all opinions are my own.**
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Alden Grigsby is a Florida native. Pete has appeared in an episode of the Mickey Mouse club, was a Jungle Cruise Skipper, “friend” of the Rocketeer, tram driver on the backlot tour, and opening day cast member at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). When he’s not writing movie reviews, he is performing as a singer and tribute artist all over the world and currently has a cover album of Disney songs called Kingdom Classics