Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

Oscar Flores, Copy Editor

The first Guardians of the Galaxy infused some well-needed blood into the Marvel Cinematic Universe when it released on Aug. 4, 2014.  Director James Gunn used the new cast of characters at his disposal along with a great soundtrack and quirky tone to create a space-opera that felt new.  With the May 6 release of the second installment, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it is interesting to see to what extent Gunn recreates the fun and vibrant tone that made the first so successful while balancing the introduction of new characters and a new story.


Set to the musical backdrop of “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2”, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the story of the guardians’ second attempt at saving the galaxy. The plot of Vol. 2 is fairly simple; it focuses on Peter Quill’s (a.k.a Star-Lord) reunion with his father, Ego the Living Planet.


Given the simplicity of the story, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has to rely on the characters themselves to carry the film which, luckily, does so with great effect.  The character interactions remain entertaining and hilarious to watch from beginning to end while changing up the dynamics with the introduction of a few new characters – primarily Ego and Mantis.  


Ego played by Kurt Russell showcases why he is fit to play Peter’s father, as he matches his son’s humor and attitude throughout the film.


Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff), on the other hand, serves as the innocent and naive addition to the group as she has only ever interacted with one other person by the time she meets the guardians: Ego.  The nature of her character combined with the situation Mantis is thrown in makes for some great comedic moments especially with Drax.  Even though these moments are great, they do get overused as the film goes on and Mantis is slowly reduced to a method for easy laughs.  


Aside from the new additions, the dynamic between the original cast of guardians (including Yondu) continues without skipping a beat.  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker all give great performances in their respective roles while adding more depth and complexity to the characters they embodied in the first film.  The biggest change between characters comes in the form of Baby Groot and Rocket Raccoon’s friendship in which Rocket becomes Groot’s protector.  This small reversal works as it changes how the two characters interact and it allows for Rocket to grow as a character.  


While the reliance on the film’s characters is entertaining to watch, this focus gives way to some uneven storytelling.  The first and third act of the film makes the audience feel at home; they provide great action sequences and retain the lighthearted tone.  The second act is where Vol. 2 stumbles on itself.  The central storyline regarding Peter and Ego takes somewhat of a backseat in the second act in order to shine a light on the theme of family through the interactions of the characters.  Normally, such a sudden change would break the film, but the characters help carry the film along.  Instead, the problem lies with the separation of the guardians in order to convey the theme of family through two separate points of view.  


After Baby Groot, Rocket, and Nebula are separated with Yondu from the rest of the crew, the film jumps between two points of view that culminate in the climax of the film.  Rocket’s deals with the search for acceptance from a family while Peter’s deals with identifying your true family.  Both of these views are great tie-ins to the overall theme but they end up underdeveloped by the constant switch in scenes necessary to showcase the ideas.


Beyond the characters and plot, everything else in the film shines.  The film begins and climaxes with action sequences that prove to be hilarious and a feast for the eyes.  


The soundtrack, “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2”, provides a great variety of 70s songs that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Songs such as “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac or “Wham Bam Shang-a-lang” by Silver are used effectively to complement a scene and often make a scene much more memorable.  
Despite some flaws, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 proves to be a worthy successor to the original film.  It is an entertaining sequel that offers plenty of memorable moments, a fantastic soundtrack, great laughs, mesmerizing visual effects, and lovable characters that will keep you glued to the screen from beginning to end.