I feel the need to start this off by saying how much I love Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1. It was the very first Marvel movie I saw that I genuinely enjoyed, and I think that’s mostly because I’d never heard of the team before. I had no idea about the Infinity Stones fitting in with the Marvel Universe, and was watching it like a superhero Breakfast Club… but with five criminals, really.
The sequel, then, was one of my most anticipated films of the year. And you know what they say about high expectations. So, let’s run through the movie and talk the good, the bad and the just plain stupid.
What I Came To See
The actual cinematography of the thing – I heard that GotG Vol.2 was being shot on a different camera to all the other Marvel films and you can definitely tell. The colours are so vibrant and rich, (the amount of rainbow motifs was adorable) and some of the stills looked like shots from an intergalactic music video. For quality alone, it was one I was pleased to see on the big screen.
Nebula and Gamora – Karen Gillan was who I was most looking forward to seeing and I never root for the villains. Her character had a strong motive at the end of the first film, and the sister dynamic between the pair, with a lot of backstory to be revealed about their childhood, was fascinating to watch play a bigger part in the story line. And yes, it took them both a while to realise that the fact they were never able to actually kill one another meant something, but their moments together where the only parts I found truly touching. In a I-completely-saw-this-coming-but-damn-I’m-still-tearing-up way. Also, Karen and Zoe were killing it in the fight scenes and demanded attention every time they were on screen. The only reason I put up with the extremely long winded Ravager sequence was to see Nebula in the background, picking her nails and rolling her eyes.
BABY FLIPPING GROOT – If he’s not the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. There’s never normally anything to squeal at in Marvel films and it was a reaction I was happy to add to the list. Groot’s baby status was the root of a lot of the jokes (see what I did there?) and never failed to bring a smile to my face. Scene stealing, for sure.
Lack of romance – Honestly, hallelujah to any film over two hours long without even a hint of kissing. Sure, the same level of sexual tension, or whatever, was between Peter and Gamora, and I’m sure we won’t be able to get through three movies without a kiss or two, but romance should never be the biggest deal in films like this. Once you’ve saved the world, then you can get the girl.
So, that’s about it for the good. Oh wow.
What I Did Not Sign Up For
Locker Room Humour All the Humour. – GotG is known for not taking itself seriously. You can call the overlord of the universe a dickhead, that’s cool. But, this took it to another level – one I definitely wasn’t comfortable with. First, I don’t have enough fingers for the number of dick jokes dropped, or the number of times they made fun of Rocket’s species. The finale of the first film was all about the team realising that Rocket had feelings, and just because he’s different to the rest didn’t make him any less valuable. There’s a line between friendly teasing and bullying and that line was crossed, which didn’t feel authentic to the team atmosphere of Volume 1. What made it worse was that the characters were all laughing like everything out of each other’s mouths was the funniest thing ever that it killed any tiny part of the joke that was funny to begin with.
DRAX – Oh man. He could not have been more of a jerk. In the first film, his ignorance of social interactions was endearing, and now it’s just…harmful. Any scene he had with Mantis, I hated. Yep, hated. There was nothing wrong with her character, and he was coming for her like she was the one that killed his family. Insult after insult, completely insensitive and I know people are going to be like ‘can’t you take a joke?’ but when a man calls a woman ugly, I’m not laughing. Mantis was insecure to begin with and now she’s being tricked into thinking that men literally gagging in her presence is acceptable. No, ma’am.
The Golden People – The only way these guys were ‘superior’ to everyone else was in their highlighter application. Shiny from top to bottom. As much as they were beautiful, they were ridiculous. Seriously, they send all of their military resources after Quill and the gang for stealing three batteries, tops? Talk about overreaction. It wasn’t a big enough deal to warrant all the effort they put in, and I was mostly laughing over how easily they were defeated.
Thanos Who? – Maybe the most disappointing part of the whole film was the direction of the villain. Thanos was The Evil Guy in the last film, the one behind the curtain. The one that could crush Ronan under his big toe. But, since Age of Ultron happened, I guess he’s Avengers territory now. Instead, we get given Kurt Russell, who although was a great casting choice as Peter’s dad, was like Commander Rourke from Atlantis: The Last Empire. First you think he’s a force for good, and the next minute, he’s stealing the life force of a whole civilisation. Why did he have all those dioramas of himself, in what looked like porcelain of all things? Surely that was a red flag for ‘oh-this-man’s-crazy’.
DeJa Vu – When talking to Bee about the film before we saw it, we both said with certainty that it couldn’t rely on the same kick-ass elements as the last film. Volume 2 needed to assert itself as a step forward, not a repeat and certainly not a step back. But what happened? Every single thing that made Volume 1 great made Volume 2 boring. The biggest of all cinema sins. Jondu (and let’s appreciate that his name wanted to auto-correct to Fondue for a second) and his little arrow killing machine, we’ve seen before. Rocket going mental with explosives, ditto. Dancing metaphors, think of something new already. Kevin Bacon > David Hasselhoff.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a bit of a disappointment, and that’s hedging. It was a disappointment, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. I loved the stronger female presence, the trajectory for Nebula and Gamora’s future, the love-conquers-all message. We are Groot, guys. The best moment of the film by far was when Sean Gunn accidentally lapsed back into being Kirk from Gilmore Girls when talking to Nebula. The one job he didn’t have on the show was bandit, so good for Kirk. I still have a lot of hope for when the Guardians return once again, but I hope even more that it doesn’t fall deeper into the traps it got caught in here. 2.5 stars, fingers crossed for the next one.