Rating: A- or I AM GROOT
Synopsis: The Guardians are back for another musically enhanced space adventure. This time with lots of feelings!!!!
Do you ever feel as though a movie has been completely tailored to your tastes so well it’s kind of scary? That was the first Guardians of the Galaxy for me in a nutshell. Space battles? Intergalactic misfits joining together for the greater good? A talking Racoon? Classic Rock!? Sign me up! Guardians of the Galaxy was one of those movies that just immediately clicked with me. James Gunn crafted a fun world filled with great characters and is completely unique in the MCU.
As you could probably guess, I was heavily anticipating the sequel! The trailers were promising more of the same and I was ok with it!
James Gunn has yet again crafted a vibrant space adventure through excellent direction and an amazing script. The jokes don’t always hit as well as the first film, but it makes up for it with genuine heart, excellent world building, and well-crafted characters. That isn’t to say the film isn’t funny. When a joke does hit, it is overwhelmingly hilarious. Gunn has such a great grasp on what motivates each of his characters and their relationship to one another. The first film showed a group of intergalactic misfits becoming allies for the common good, but here they are truly realized as a family. On top of the outstanding writing, Gunn is a master of adapting the obscure cosmic side of Marvel Comics to a fully realized tangible world. His use of color, slow motion, and excellent cinematography enhance not only the comedy but the film as a whole. James Gunn is a true visionary of screenwriting and direction.
The plot is not like your typical comic book film where the conflict is clear from the get go. As a matter of fact, this film is more so about the characters and their relationship to one another than a universe ending plot (at least not until the end). I genuinely had no idea where the film was going but I was enjoying the ride. I will have to say that while I was enjoying it the film, the pacing did feel somewhat slow in the beginning. Things just sort of happen in the beginning and you don’t really see how it all connects until the midpoint of the film. However, when you do see how it all merges together it makes for one of the all-time great climaxes in the MCU. I will also say that the eventual reveal of Ego’s intentions, while somewhat predictable, did work with the film’s themes overall. The plot is definitely not conventional, and I can see some viewers seeing it as slow. However, I still enjoyed the hell out of it.
Now Guardians of the Galaxy would be nothing without an excellent soundtrack. Like the first film, the songs were chosen either to fulfill a narrative purpose or add some extra flair to the film. The highlights for me was the hilarious use of “Come a Little Bit Closer” synced with a great action scene on the Ravagers’ ship and a truly excellent use of “The Chain” at the climax of the film. While the music selection is great, I find myself preferring the tracks from the first film more. As for the score itself, I must say the first film had much more of a presence than in the sequel. It seems as the focus was more on the mix than the musical score this time around. The soundtrack fulfills its purpose very well but my personal tastes didn’t mesh as well this time around.
The true strength of this film is the excellent performances and the great chemistry between the characters. The Guardians themselves have slipped back into their roles exceptionally while also stepping it up on the very emotionally demanding scenes. Kurt Russel’s Ego is incredibly charming and funny. Pom Klementief gives Mantis an innocence and gives great delivery of the funnier lines. Karen Gillan balances psychological trauma and humor incredibly well. Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot is god damned adorable. Even Sylvester Stallone shows up! (though I can barely understand what the hell he is saying!) The standout performance for me was Michael Rooker as Yondu. He went from just being an obstacle in the first film to having great emotional depth. The film also gives us great character dynamics like Drax’s somewhat parental relationship with Mantis, Rocket sharing a similar upbringing and personality to Yondu, and Nebula’s complicated rivalry with Gamora. Even the romance between Quill and Gamora works. You can just feel the chemistry between each of these performers. I would argue that the cast of Guardians has more depth and chemistry than any of the Avengers films.
I’m happy to say that this follow-up may be just as good and perhaps even better in some areas. It feels as if we are jumping right back into the world and hitting the ground running. My first reaction was to start comparing it to the first film. Eventually, I just let the movie take me for a ride. This film balances the Marvel’s cosmic universe’s weirdness while also treating it with the utmost reverence. This is thanks to James Gunn being one hell of a filmmaker. The characters are fantastic and are full of outstanding depth. While the plot may take its time; it completely makes up for it with one hell of a climax. Guardians of the Galaxy remains the high point of the MCU, and I can’t wait to see them again.
In these times of hardship, just remember, WE… ARE.. GROOT…