There’s something special about James Gunn.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 comes three years after the original, and takes things up a notch. Or several.
Frustratingly receiving the film last – along with the United States – in India, the extension to my two and a half year anticipation for this movie led me to be incredibly excited for the sequel to a film that I, admittedly, did not watch in theatres. I actually passed it off, and I wasn’t particularly interested in it. A few months later, I watched it, and I learned how stupid I was. Guardians of the Galaxy is not only my favourite Marvel Cinematic Universe film, but also one of my favourite films of all time.
Typically, sequels can take themselves more seriously than the first, and that was my biggest fear with this movie. The greatest charm about the first movie is that it embraces its absurdity and is a film that tries to do nothing more than give you a great time.
Its successor is no different. Sure, the stakes are higher and there is a surprising amount of depth to it, but it doesn’t lose its heart along the way.
If you’ve watched any of the trailers, you’ve seen barely anything related to the actual focus of the film. With regards to that focus, the movie has you wondering quite a long way in which direction it is actually taking, which was worrying for me. But when it does find its stride, you realise that everything happening until that point was essential to drive the story along.
What made this movie the most compelling, even more than The Avengers, are the ways in which its characters are used, and the dynamics that exist between them. Perhaps the biggest issue with the first movie is that there is barely any depth to any of the characters, other than Star-Lord, but in this one, there are layers upon layers to them. Without giving anything away, this is a very personal story, and the villain – who has actually been under the wraps – is probably the best Marvel villain there has been yet… Other than Loki. It appears as if Marvel’s Summer movies have found their footing with their villains, with Zemo last year, this movie’s villain this year, and Thanos next year.
It goes without saying that this movie looks magnificent, not just with the glorious CGI, but the wide array of colours that can be seen on screen, giving these new worlds a few extra touches. The way the major setting in this movie is crafted is beautiful, with every detail being refined.
Having said that, there are two pressing issues with this movie, one of which is likely to be a critique of a number of people, and the other being something most people probably wouldn’t question. The former is that there is an entire plot line that follows through the whole movie that results in… Nothing, really. The third act – where the film really turns on its head and becomes something spectacular – had no purpose for this particular story to be brought in, and when all was said and done, there wasn’t really anything that came off it.
The second issue with this movie is that there is a very essential plot device, perhaps the most essential, comes with no reasoning. I mean, I deduced a reason while I was watching, but that is only what I think, and not what is explained. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, I will just say that this is where the movie kicks into full gear and where the biggest twist unfolds, just so you know where to catch it.
However, what needs to be understood is that this film, despite those flaws, is fantastic. I cannot give it a full rating, obviously, but I wish I could. It understands what it is and doesn’t try to be anything different. The soundtrack – oh my goodness, the soundtrack – is once again mouth-wateringly great, and I had a smile on my face for most of the movie.
Going back to the characters, the chemistry between the team, new and old members, is undeniably something that the film would crumble apart without. Drax is always around to be Drax, Rocket goes through an emotional roller coaster, Gamora sees herself in a different light, Peter discovers himself like he never imagined, and Baby Groot is the most adorable thing in the galaxy. And all along the way, something that barely happens to me with any movie happens. I laughed uncontrollably, quite a lot.
So with that, my most anticipated movie of the year (after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, of course. What is it about great space operas?) is checked off the list, providing me with a viewing experience that I will not forget. Is it better than the original? Ignoring the flaws, yes. It is a more character-driven movie, has infinitely more depth, and the ending is magnificent. It really is. Not just because of what happens, but because of everything that it symbolises. Also, this movie does something that no other Marvel movie, bar one, has been able to do.
Take a bow, James Gunn. Not only is your passion and style radiant on the screen, but you’ve managed to make two films that are so vastly different from any other Marvel Studios movie, and yet, at least in my book, are two of the very best.
On a scale where M is the lowest, and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating: