10 Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
This past weekend brought us the first weekend in May and with it came both the annual Free Comic Book Day and also the newest Marvel movie. It what has been an annual tradition for us here at Geek 10, we hit the theaters to see Marvel’s newest offering before making our way to the comic book store for some reading material.
And I was giddy with excitement this year over the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2. If you’ll recall from our Top 10 Marvel Cinematic Movies list, Guardians of the Galaxy was our favorite marvel move to date. So that begs the question, how close does the sequel come to recapturing the magic of the first? Time to find out as we dive into our review.
And as always, spoilers below, so proceed carefully if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
10 Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2
1. Volume 1 vs Volume 2
To get right to the heart of the matter, there is pretty much no way the sequel was ever going to outshine the first. While it can happen, it’s incredibly rare for a sequel to ever be a better movie than the original. It’s even more rare if you exclude movies that are set trilogies (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc…).
That being said, I still really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Interestingly, while most super hero films are bogged down with the origin story in their first movie, Guardians of the Galaxy never really had to deal with that. The closest they came was just meeting each other, but they were really thrust together in prison. So it’s almost a bit ironic that Volume 2 focuses more on the history of Peter Quill, and to a lesser extent Gamora and Nova. Although to be honest, I think the movie suffers somewhat for that.
The pacing felt a bit slower in Volume 2, mostly due to the pause in the action and humor as each of the guardians dealt with their person issues. I think Guardians of the Galaxy is at its best when it’s light on the tone, and heavier on the nostalgia and comedy.
2. The fantastic opening sequence
That being said, I think the opening sequence in Volume 2 is one of the best we’ve seen in a long time, right up there with Deadpool’s opener. Director James Gunn brilliantly sets the tone for the movie as we watch a now Baby Groot plug in a sound system and begin to dance as the rest of the Guardians battle in the background. While the focus is clearly on him, we can still watch the action happening in the background. It’s this kind of lighthearted action and humor that makes the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise so lovable (and bankable).
3. The Death of the Ravager Crew
That being said, the Ravager death scene almost felt out of place in this movie. When Yondu escapes his imprisonment after the mutiny, he gets a chance to extract his revenge. What follows is a brutal scene where he lays waste to the mutineers with his trademark whistle arrow. I do think that the scene is a fantastic one, as it’s set to Jay & The Americans’ “Come a Little Bit Closer” and expertly filmed. Yet while I loved everything about this scene, it’s brutality doesn’t quite fit in an otherwise light hearted movie.
4. Another Fantastic Soundtrack
The original Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack was an instant hit and revived many peoples love in some classic songs. And Volume 2 absolutely captures that magic again. While I will say that I liked the first soundtrack better, that’s mostly because I knew more of those songs.
Guardians of the Galaxy has definitely created something special with their trademark music here. The first movie took us all by surprise with the way it integrated these classic rock songs into the film and the second one carries on that tradition. I love that the music is not simply a soundtrack, but also tied into the plot of the movie. A lot of movies could learn a lesson from Guardians of the Galaxy, *cough* Suicide Squad.
5. Ego vs J’son
So the central plot of the movie revolves around Peter finally meeting up with his biological father in the form of Ego, the living planet (played by Kurt Russell). If you are an avid comic reader, then you probably already know that in the books, his real father is J’Son or “Jason of Spartax”, the Emperor of the Spartoi Empire.
It was revealed quite a while ago that writer/director James Gunn was skipping J’son in favor of Ego. To be honest, I wasn’t that big of a fan of the change. I loved the dynamic of J’son and Peter from the comics and Ego really just didn’t fit as well. I do think that Ego worked fine for the movie, and people who aren’t comic readers won’t be the wiser anyway. Yet J’son was such an interesting character in the comics and he could have easily been around for multiple movies. He is the kind of character that could easily make an exciting nemesis to the Guardians.
6. Individuals vs Team
As I touched on earlier, Volume 2 had a lot more scenes where the Guardians split off to deal with their own issues rather than being together. Unsurprisingly, I think this hurt the movie a little. The Guardians of the Galaxy are infinitely more interesting when they are around each other, as that lets each of their personalities to bounce off one another creating some really interesting dialogue. The sum is grater than the parts.
Peter’s time with his dad had me ready to move on to the next scene, as did much of Gamora and Nova’s time together. Rocket managed to salvage his alone time, but that was mostly due to the high action and entertainment of all his booby traps. The best of the alone time was probably with Drax and Mantis, but that’s only because Dave Bautista was on fire this movie (more on that in a second).
7. More locations please
To piggy back on the previous thought a little, I also think Guardians of the Galaxy is better when they are hopping to a variety of locations, doing what they do best. In Volume 1, they spent time on the Nova home planet, prison, Knowhere, and even in space. Volume 2 felt a lot more contained as the basically went from the Sovereign’s planet in the intro to Ego’s homeworld. While there was a minor stop when they crashed, they barely spent any time there.
This left me wanting more. Gunn has done a great job creating rich locations with diverse characters and having them spend most of the movie on Ego’s planet held the group back. It also stalled the momentum of the movie at times. Here’s hoping Volume 3 will give them extra chances to stretch their legs and show us more of the universe.
8. Dave Bautista Killed it with Drax
While Drax was far from my favorite character in Volume 1, he was definitely a scene stealer in Volume 2. His deadpan lines were perfectly delivered throughout the movies, bringing tons of laughs from the audience. I think he absolutely nailed the range of his character and how to play him. I did not go into the movie expecting him to be one of my favorite guardians this time, but he easily won me over. Bautista definitely stepped up his game from the first movie and it shows.
Oh Yondu, how I’m going to miss you. While Yondu (excellently played by Michael Rooker) wasn’t a major character in Volume 1, he really takes center stage in Volume 2 and grabs his time in the spotlight by the reigns.
Despite all the time spent between Peter and Ego, it’s not until the end of the movie that we realize that Yondu has always seen himself as Peter’s father. And of course Peter finally does realize this, ultimately too late though. As Yondu proves this by making the ultimate sacrifice for him so that Peter can live. It was a sad and powerful send off for a character I really loved.
I was actually hoping Yondu would become a permanent part of the Guardian’s crew, much like how Mantis has. Instead, it’s looking like we get Kraglin (Sean Gunn) as a new crew member. While it was entertaining watching him try and learn how to use the arrow, he just doesn’t have the raw intensity that Rooker brings to the table. At least he finally got his Ravager send off at the end.
10. 5 Post Credit Scenes!
Yes, there were 5 stingers during and after the credits. So let’s just get to them.
A. Kraglin learns how to use the arrow. We already touched on this one above. Is he permanently joining the crew? We’ll find out in Volume 3.
B. The Ravagers unite. Sylvester Stallone appeared early in the movie as Stakar, someone who Yondu seemed to respect. However we quickly find out that Yondu is actually an outcast from the larger group of Ravagers. Stealing babies will do that I guess. During his funeral, his Ravager buddies all show up, including Ving Rhames and Michelle Yeoh. At the end, they decide to group back up to steal some Shi-!
C. Ayesha’s Plan. Cut back to the Sovereign homeworld where Ayesha isn’t doing so good after her constant failures. However she apparently has an ace in the hole has the camera pans to a cocoon. Calling him Adam, this is obviously none other than Adam Warlock. If you don’t know much about him, it’s ok. He has an insanely complicated history that will leave you twisting through a variety of rabbit holes. Just know that he is tied to the infinite stones (gems in the comics) in a variety of ways. From what I can tell, he isn’t going to be in Avengers: Infinity War, so I’m guessing this will be a setup to make him the main villain in Volume 3.
D. Teen Groot. Pure laughs right here.
E. The Watchers. The giant bald people, first scene during the movie when Yondu and Rocket do their megajump, spend some time talking with Stan Lee. The Watchers, from the comics, are a race of ultra powerful and ultra passive people who, wait for it, watch things.
Stan Lee is seen talking to them both in the movie and during the stinger. He mentions his previous job of being a FedEX delivery driver (his cameo in Captain America: Civil War). This is clearly a nod to the popular fan theory that every Stan Lee cameo is actually the same person…and that he’s really a watcher (And that’s his cover).