TL;DR
  • A little too light on story and plot (the only minor issue)
  • Music from Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is good, but no match for the first 
  • Hilarious from beginning to end – particularly Drax and Baby Groot
  • Action amazing; fast-paced, exciting and captivating
  • Loveable characters you fall in love with again and even more
  • Generally fantastic – Marvel have another winner
  • I am Groot

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I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long time – since summer 2014 in fact. As soon as I saw the first Guardians of the Galaxy I couldn’t wait to see more; it instantly shot straight to my top Marvel films – and I really love Marvel. So, as you can probably tell, I’m certainly biased. Yes, I love Guardians of the Galaxy and am a big Marvel fan. Excitement for this film was very high on a personal level. And I know I’m not alone; there’s been plenty of talk and hype about this sequel. So – does it live up to the hype? Do we have another instalment to continue our love for this disfunctional group of friends who protect the galaxy?

In short, yes, Absolutely.

After completing a job defeating an Abilisk, a multi-dimensional monster reminiscent of an angry octopus, for Ayesha and her fellow golden weirdos, they double-cross and betray them – something they don’t appreciate, meaning that the Guardians are on the run. At the same time Peter Quill/ Star Lord meets his father. One thing leads to another, people are captured and escape, revelations are made and, naturally, the Guardians end up saving the galaxy again.

The new and improved Guardians
So a fairly simple plot, which is really the only problem I had with the film (worry not, this is a very positive review). The story in Volume 2 seems weak compared to the epic plot of the first film. In contrast this plot seems light and a little more static. Certainly it’s different to a lot of other Marvel films, not just its predecessor, where the antagonist is established and it’s a whole story about either establishing the titular hero then taking care of the bad guy or just taking care of the bad guy; always going from A to B to C. Either way, Marvel films have a usual plot structure. So it’s comendeable that James Gunn tries something a little different, but much of the film feels like it’s just setting the groundwork for a larger plot that never comes; we have a beginning and end, but the middle is slightly stale. And the end still becomes a generic action sequence with a one-film villain that will inevitably become forgotten (typical of Marvel), the consequences off which never seem particularly daunting.

Then again, as we’ll see with many Marvel films to come, that will be increasingly difficult with the sheer amount of characters they’re trying to squeeze in. It’s often said that the main failing point of Avengers: Age of Ultron was that there were too many characters, so the focus and structure of the film was lacking. This was remedied in Captain America: Civil War; by focussing on Captain America himself they could include many characters but still retain a good structure, focussed on Cap. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t do this as well as Civil War, but it does improve on Ultron so they’re getting there (I hope).

The opening scene really is a highlight – the battle in the background’s pretty cool too
However, criticisms aside I personally don’t have an issue with that. I for one absolutely love big teams in films. My favourite Marvel films to date have been the ones with big teams and characters joining forces and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon (which is fortunate since it looks like this will continue for the foreseeable future – Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok later this year will both include other characters from the MCU).

All of this is made even more joyous in this film in particular since the characters are so diverse and so wonderful that, despite any criticisms on story or structure, it’s a joy to watch anyway and an absolute roller-coast ride of laughs and action. Most of the characters were already established in the previous film, yet here we get to know these loveable characters more as the film allows them to grow; we learn more about the relationship between Nebula and Gamora; we discover the real Yondu beyond his aggressive facade; and meet new character, Mantis, who is a perfect match for Drax. This film really makes an effort to maximise our engagement and fondness for nearly every character (aside from Ego). It’s a relief that the acting and characters are so wonderful and colourful (both in physicality and personality) because it picks up where the structure lacks and keeps us entertained.

Star Lord’s taking it all personally
The film is, despite strictly speaking being classified as a sci-fi/ superhero movie, very funny; funnier than most comedies you see nowadays (an accolade many Marvel films can claim). The jokes all hit well, the writing good and amusing enough to elicit a laugh out of everyone, and this is all made better by the performances; the comedic highlights being Chris Pratt’s Star Lord, Dave Bautista’s Drax and, of course, Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot. Star Lord’s relatable quirkiness and confidence with retro references are as wonderful as ever; Drax’s roaring laugh at things that shouldn’t be funny are a joy to behold and never fail to make us laugh along; but the real icon of this film is Baby Groot. He’s become Marvel’s equivalent to Pikachu or BB-8. As if adult Groot wasn’t loveable enough, Baby Groot is so adorable it’s even mentioned in a line in the film. Clearly the filmmakers knew how popular he would be and how he would bring a large audience, so I’m happy to say that there’s plenty of Baby Groot and he definitely steals the show in every scene he’s in, from the opening all focussed on him to his very own end credit scene.

It’s not just the characters though; it’s the action with the characters. The fight scenes are as elaborate, crazy, exciting and expertly-choreographed as ever. Sci-fi action and violence doesn’t get more beautiful than this. More than the fight scenes though, the whole film is breathtakingly beautiful and really does demand to be seen on the big screen, the bigger the better (IMAX was made for films like this).

I am Baby Groot
So all in all it’s an absolute blast. It may not quite be the first, with less memorable music and a less exciting plot leading to a forgettable villain. And personally I really wish they’d included more references to the rest of the MCU other than just mentioning Thanos and the Infinity Stone from the previous film (but that’s just the geek inside me). But the characters are as delightful as ever and even more engaging (verging on being overstuffed, but not too bad), the action is thrilling and gorgeous to watch and the humour is hilarious – from Bautista’s roaring laugh and Groot’s antics to Stan Lee’s cameo. This sequel has kept all the aspects that made its predecessor so excellent and they’ve done it again – another win for Marvel! All I can really say is that, once again, I am Groot.

 

 

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