More Baby Groot! And the rest of the Guardians of course…
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is the sequel to the surprisingly popular first movie about a group of misfits that end up teaming up to save the galaxy. It is the fifteenth movie in the now firmly established Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first of three Marvel Studios movies set to be released over the course of this year. Obviously, with a name like Guardians of the Galaxy, the general gist is that this group must somehow save the galaxy from disaster once again. The team performs a service for a group of benevolent beings but also inadvertently steals from them. This leads them into an adventure where said requisite of heroism takes place. What we also get is a deeper look into the backstories of most of the individuals of the team as they try to come to terms with their past.
Guardians is once again directed by James Gunn, so it has mostly the same tone as the first movie, but with the added personal stakes each character faces, it feels a little darker. It’s overall lighthearted style though will play well with movie audiences that are probably not prepared for some of the more serious stuff that someone like DC puts out. What seems to be an issue here is the lack of a charismatic antagonist. In terms of the Marvel Universe, the Avengers had Loki, then they had to face each other. The upcoming Spiderman has Michael Keaton’s Vulture and the upcoming Thor has Cate Blanchett’s Hela. These villains are as much of a draw as the hero. Throughout most of the movie, the central antagonist is the Gold People. They seem so generic and non-threatening that it was kind of annoying whenever they showed up to battle. Villainous Ewoks are kind of a fair comparison. While the pasts of the Guardians also end up being a demon they have to deal with as the movie progresses, the absence of a brand name villain to be the ying to the Guardians yang can be seen as a major flaw.
There is a seeming lack of stakes throughout much of the movie. For a movie about saving the galaxy, the sense of grave danger isn’t hanging over our protagonists’ head. It does eventually end up that the galaxy is in peril but one doesn’t feel that for a lot of the run time. The pasts of our heroes maybe interesting, and there is some admittedly dark stuff presented, but it’s tough to stay invested in what’s going on when we’re not sure what the main source of conflict is. With a run time of 2 hours and 18 minutes, some viewers may disengage.
This isn’t to say that GOTGV2 isn’t enjoyable. It absolutely is. Our main protagonists are so likeable it’s hard not to have fun watching this despite some of its flaws. Getting to know the pasts of our heroes, helps us to see them more as people instead of punchline delivery systems. The funny quips are still there since that is very much the established persona of this group. Drax, played by Dave Bautista, was especially funny. Chris Pratt as Starlord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket Racoon all have their moments. Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, is adorably hilarious. The standout here is Michael Rooker who plays Yondu. His performance will make you look at that character in a new light. One of these characters faces some real consequences which for a Marvel movie is saying something. This particular fate makes the movie have a real impact just when you least expect it.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a nice little warm up for the summer but you have the feeling that Marvel could do better.