Guardians of the Galaxy was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was something truly different. It’s a comic book that many non comic book readers didn’t know about, but it turned out to be one of Marvels most successful films critically (my favorite in the franchise) and was a huge success financially (making over $700 million) proving that Marvel can branch out and try new things.
Sequels usually hype people up by giving something bigger and better. Double the action. Double the comedy. Double the everything. Director of the predecessor, James Gunn, has returned to do so but he does the opposite of what people were expecting.
GotG Vol. 2 is different in many ways and one is by making it more of a character piece than a story involving action or setting up something in the MCU, because the film really doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on the MCU. That alone makes me appreciate what Gunn did as a writer.
This film shows that you don’t have to set up the next three films to the MCU. It means there can be actual standalone films in this franchise, and still be entertaining while having an impact on its characters. It let’s us guess what’s going to happen to them next and how they will end up in the Avengers film, because based off of this film we have no idea how they are going to meet Iron Man and Captain America.
Gunn decides to do much more on adding more layers to our characters. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finally meets his father, Ego (Kurt Russell) and the film focuses on the bond of these two. Peter learns about his mother, himself, and his father while learning about his feelings towards the team. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) fight because of their past relations, Drax (Dave Bautista) opens up more about his personal feelings and family in a serious and sometimes comical way, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) struggles with accepting his problems for hiding how he really feels. Even Groot (Vin Diesel) struggles with having a hard time understanding what’s being said to him and doing actions since he’s technically a baby.
All of these happen throughout the film with an even amount of time while still mixing in comedy and action. Out of everyone in the movie, the two that stood out most were Drax and Yondu (Michael Rooker). These two, more so Yondu, had the perfect blend of being able to show all of these emotions while still being able to do comedy and look vigorous. More personality is added to Yondu as well, making him somebody’s favorite character in the film now.
This also puts in a lot of emotions from many of the characters. The last two films in the MCU, Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War, have had some affecting moments that push those characters, but this films takes it much further because of these new layers to the Guardians.
It was also clear Gunn had more freedom when it came to filmmaking. This is the first Marvel film to use the Red Weapon camera series and it shows. The colors are more vibrant. Blacks actually look darker. Everything doesn’t look muted / like a television show. There are also close ups and beautiful wide shots that wouldn’t appear in any other MCU film. Even the first big action scene in the movie is filmed with a lot of skill and well choreographed moments.
Yet pretty much the entire movie is done in a green screen. At times it’s obvious that they’re in a room and it pulls you out of the movie. There was a certain scene where it’s bluntly glaring that had Peter and Ego just standing there, making the scene feel awkward and making it evident that they’re just acting.
While we are in the negatives, the film has these gold people that can be seen in the trailer. These people keep coming back to get the Guardians after some of their belongings were stolen, but this could have just been something done in the beginning of the film. It’s dragged out through the entire film, and it’s understandable when you leave the theater, but it ends the flow of what’s happening between the characters.
Even though there are many more positives than negatives, GotG Vol. 2 isn’t bigger and better in terms of action, but it’s bigger with it’s characters and having little to nothing with impacting the MCU which is a reason why this movie is better than others in the franchise. Gunn’s creativity shows with his notable camera work and writing that give layers to all of these characters. The soundtrack has meaning with its scene and Tyler Bate’s score is even better than the first. Yet, the effects make certain scenes feel genuinely awkward at times and the gold people felt like a waste with no real purpose. It may not feel as exciting or fresh as the first, but it will make people excited to see what Gunn has to offer next with these characters.