I have been a Marvel fan since the mid-90s. What hooked me into the company years ago were great street level heroes like Spiderman, The Punisher, and Daredevil. A far cry from the quality of Comics that Marvel produces today. After Captain America Winter Solider and Guardians of The Galaxy, I thought that there was no way they could top those films in quality, sadly I was right. My inner fanboy has sobered up to reality. I’ve actually started to listen closely to criticisms that many people have with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The hype was pretty intense when it was reported back in February that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 got a very rare perfect 100 score with test audiences. When I sat down and read some of the Rotten Tomatoes reviews I saw things like “Feels like a disappointment”, “Filler”, “Clearly Not As Good As The Original”. The mind-blowing thing about these reviews…is that these are the Fresh (Good) Reviews. If this is what the positive reviews look like, I could only imagine what the movie itself entails. The time has come to draw a line in the sand and review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The film opens with our heroes fighting a giant intergalactic monster to the tunes of Electric Light Orchestra. The mission was a bargain to reclaim Gamora’s (Saldana) evil sister Nebula (Gillan), who was caught attempting to steal the batteries, so of course, Rocket (Cooper) steals them and gets the team in hot water with the Sovereigns. But suddenly they are saved by Peter’s (Pratt) long last father Ego (Russell), who has finally found his son after 34 years. It is at this point, the movie splits into two different subplots. The Guardians split up into two groups, one that goes with Ego to his home planet and another group that stays to deal with Yondu and his crew who is rebelling against him for his failure to deal with Peter after the events of the first movie.
One of the positive reviews for this film called it ‘Filler’ and really that best describes this movie, complete filler. One of my biggest complaints about the MCU (outside the villains, which is obvious) is the fact that for a massive Superhero universe, most of these films don’t feel connected at all. I mean outside of some character, making a reference to ‘the big green guy’ the stakes of one film have no effect on future films or storylines going forward. This film, which takes place in a giant cinematic universe has a plot that happens in a bubble. If you are one of those people who wants to see how this film builds up to another future Marvel movie…it doesn’t. How does this movie set up Starlord’s appearance in Avengers 3…it doesn’t. I know I sound pessimistic here but I feel like some of these things need to be said.
It’s not all doom and gloom, the visuals are one of the few things that they improve upon from the sequel. The team is called ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and there aren’t many parts of the Galaxy that they don’t go. The set pieces are more colorful and more creative in the way they put the scenery of space together which really shows earlier on and then late in the movie. James Gunn still packs his script with tons of humor and for the most part, wins over the audience with some genuine laughs. What weighs the film down ultimately is instead of focusing on laughs, they should have written a stronger story that gives the characters more depth than they are given here. People like Drax and Raccoon become the one note that people liked in the first film and they are turned up to 11 to the point their characters no longer feel authentic and likable…but hey, Baby Groot is worth the price of admission right?
Back when I reviewed Doctor Strange, I said the weakness of the MCU is the story is set up to present another one-off villain that will only be used to set up another film in the future. If you actually sit through all 5 post-credit scenes for this movie then you will realize that has become the formula. Once again we have a Marvel movie putting it’s $200 million budget for good use in its appearance but once again the story/writing is mediocre. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 tries to score too many points on what people liked in the first movie but instead produces a mediocre sequel which is the norm now for Disney’s MCU.