Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for the sequel to the original Guardians to see if it can live up to the reputation of the first one. Unfortunately, it definitely could not. The film’s own premise hurts it quite a lot as the main characters succeed at all being very unlikable jerks for the most part. That seems to be the point so to the film…You’re welcome! Unfortunately, this just isn’t an angle that they should have pursued. Still, thanks to a key scene and some nice action scenes along the way, the film was able to avoid an unfortunate fate.
Peter and the Guardians start the film out by getting into trouble as per usual. They decide to steal from their employers and are quickly found out. Fortunately, they have the help of Star Lord’s Dad who destroys most of the attacking ships and helps the heroes escape. He wants Peter to come to his planet to hang out so Gamora and Drax go along with him. Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula, the villain that the heroes picked up so they could get the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, they have a run in with Yondu. Meanwhile, Peter’s Dad may not be what he seems!
This is a pretty big movie so there’s certainly a lot to talk about. Lets start with the worst character in the film, Groot. I don’t know how this guy got to be such a fan favorite character. He was bad in the first film and he’s extraordinarily terrible in this film. He’s nothing but a big bully and he gives the film an extremely rocky start from which I don’t think it ever truly recovered. It can’t really be totally blamed on the opening since the film never really tried to get away from this, but it was a sign of things to come. Groot picks on a pair of creatures for no reason and then tries to eat a poor butterfly. It’s supposed to be a funny scene which shows just how twisted the humor is nowadays.
Now, Groot’s appeal is supposed to be that he’s cute because of how dumb and mean he is. Groot only cares about himself and never moves an inch to help his friends. Any scene with him is incredibly hard to sit through. One scene in particular which drags on a lot has him try to find something during a prison escape scene. He keeps on bringing the wrong things including a severed toe which was just gross and completely unnecessary. We get it, Groot is brainless. We knew that during the first film…why did the film have to shove it in our face the whole time? Groot was just terrible and I agree with critics that he was a scene stealer…just in the absolute worst possible way.
Next is Drax…who somehow found a way to be even worse and more unlikable than in the first film. One running gag as per usual is that he takes everything literally. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also grown even more grotesque and barbaric with his mannerisms. He talks about how his people are proud of talking about rather vile stuff and calls Mantis ugly multiple times. It’s fortunate that she is extremely naive so the insults went over her head. He’s just a very mean person which is why he fits in with the gang quite well. It’s just a shame that he’s such a terrible character. When you have Drax and Groot on the same team…you know that something’s wrong.
Next up is Rocket. Finally, we’ve got a step up from the other two. He’s the same Rocket that you’ll remember from the first film only he’s a lot meaner.
Gee…what a surprise Rocket gets the gang into a lot of trouble but the team wouldn’t last long without his gadgets anyway so I suppose it’s a fair tradeoff. He’s surprisingly not very smart at times as Rocket can’t pick up on sarcasm or recognize insults when he hears them. I feel like he’s less intelligent than he was in the first film. Still, that’s fine since he still has his personality fully in tact. Rocket knows how to use his guns and does a good job of annoying Peter. We fortunately don’t dive too far into his origin story either as I got worried for a minute when Yondu started talking. Crisis averted. The winking subplot probably has Rocket’s best moments.
Gamora is my favorite character in this film. She’s still the only member who really knows what she’s doing. Gamora is actually trying to make the world a better place and she also knows all of the members well enough to know when something is wrong. She gives Peter a pep talk, helps Groot most of the time even when he doesn’t deserve it and she comes close to figuring out the sinister planet’s secret. She also does a good job of handling the situation with Nebula. It was a little hard to take Nebula seriously the whole time as a villain since she wasn’t very powerful but the film helps to fix that as well.
Finally, there’s Peter. After watching the TV show for so long, it took a little bit to get used to this version of the character again. At least he is trying to get away from his old flirting tendencies. If he can keep this up, this will really help him as a character. Peter is certainly a much better character than he used to be now that he is just focusing on one person. He does get a little unsympathetic though when he is tricked so easily. Thinking that Gamora is just jealous was pretty silly and I don’t think he was being mentally influenced at the time so it was all him. His reaction after learning a certain plot twist was also on point as well. Instantly blasting away and hitting all of the vitals was the optimal response. No questions like “But why!”, stuttering, going into shock, or any of the other terrible responses. Peter should never have been sucked in so easily prior to this, but at least he rectified the mistake.
There were also a few supporting characters. Yondu gets a fairly large role along with a lot of character development. I’m still not a fan of the character, but I do like his arrow. It’s certainly a potent weapon. Similar to Quicksilver getting a larger version of his scene in Apocalypse compared to Days of Future Past, Yondu gets a larger scale scene to use his arrow in this time. It’s a very good trick and if he was going all out he could likely do well against the cinematic Avengers. I highly doubt it would have an effect on the Hulk and Thor/Vision would be able to endure it as well. The others would be in a pickle and I’d include Iron-Man in that since his suit hasn’t been the most durable as of late. Now, why wasn’t Yondu the character convincing for me? Well, he did just kind of sit there when all of his men were being executed. He was also taken in pretty easily considering he had the really cool arrow and should have done something the instant a mutiny was starting. Take no chances when you’re the Captain! The transporting kids part didn’t do him any wonders either.
The Sovereign people weren’t bad either. I liked their video games and the idea of a virtual army is like something out of World Trigger. You actually feel bad for them to an extent since they held up their end of the bargain while the Guardians broke theirs. Still, we’re supposed to side with the Guardians since they’re the protagonists. I just couldn’t blame the Sovereign for wanting revenge. They just gotta work on their 3D Galaga skills and they’ll be all right for the re match. Their new secret weapon should help as well.
Nebula has probably improved the most since the first film. Her transition into being more of a rival went pretty smoothly. I think there was a little forced emotion when she was reminding the audience of her backstory since I don’t think Nebula cries easy. The whole film was maybe trying a little too hard in that end, but I guess as long as we get the “almost” death of the main character each time than it’s a good tradeoff. They always come so close, but don’t end up kicking the bucket because someone else is there to save them.
Mantis is an alien being who doesn’t know much about anything. She was raised by Ego in exchange for her assistance in getting him to rest every day. Unfortunately, the Guardians are the ones who help her expand her horizons so the lessons that she learns aren’t the greatest ones. She’s a decent character. Mantis’ character tropes aren’t really my style but I guess you can say that she did all that she could with them.
Finally, we have Ego. There’s nothing really likable about him and I can definitely say that the character fell flat. He didn’t do anything for me even if he did have cool abilities. The problem is that he’s way too overpowered. You know ahead of time that the heroes will need some plot hax if they want to come out on top. It delivers as it always comes through in the clutch, but they should have made him a little weaker. At least what wasn’t plot hax was the brief Man of Steel homage fight scene. That was pretty neat as you can instantly see where it took notes on the Zod vs Superman battle. If strength correlated with likability than Ego would be at the top, but it’s just not the case. He works well enough as a villain, but don’t expect to root for him.
As far as the soundtrack goes, the tunes are pretty good again. Most of them aren’t all that memorable, but it’s always nice to hear songs from the 80s. They’re just very catchy and it will remind you of the good ole days. The themes stand out and the best part is that you know the film had a soundtrack. There are a bunch of films that you’ll finish and wonder if they actually had any music to begin with. This film just didn’t have that problem.
The visuals are also pretty sharp for this film. Marvel is still a few years behind DC when it comes to the effects, but they’re getting closer. The brief fight with Peter and Ego was a lot of fun and I liked the Mass Effect Ego design. Peter’s element gun looked a little weaker this time as the blasts were quite small, but as long as it’s a blast I’ll take it anyway. You’ll go into the film expecting the graphics to be good since this is a space film and all so it’s good that you will not be disappointed.
One thing that the film definitely did right was its references. It was fun to be reminded of what we all loved about the 80’s. There’s a certain reference/guest star appearance in particular that worked really well. This iconic figure reminded me that I definitely couldn’t give the film a negative score. It had its issues, but the film reminded me that it could be classy. Moreover, you’ll probably gain some respect for the character who uses this guest star. It was a really exciting moment and the only thing that could have made it even better would have been an extended fight scene where Ego fights the Sm4sh version of this icon.
That was an example of humor done right. Unfortunately, as a whole the film did have an issue with the humor. The problem is that Guardians just isn’t a very funny film. Airplane probably had more laughs in 10 minutes than this film had in its whole generation. I blame it partially on the terrible writing, but it’s also because the film really televises all of its jokes ahead of time. For example, when a guy with a scarred face calls the gold villains. You instantly know what the joke will be and how it will be handled. That’s a bit of a problem because it’s not going to be as funny if you see it coming right? That’s how the film handled most of its jokes. It could have learned a thing or two from the Plane film.
One thing that made that film so funny was how sudden the jokes would occur. When the main character was asked if he wants a smoking or no smoking ticket you didn’t expect a good joke, but then they pull out a ticket that has smoke coming out of it. That was an excellently handled joke. Granted, the film had some bad jokes as well, but the ratio was in its favor and the good jokes wee really good. The best joke in Guardians would have trouble breaking even in Airplane. In this case, I don’t even think we can blame it on the characters all that much since they should still be good at humor.
Also, I’m not saying that the humor is terrible or anything like that. The film still did have a few moments here and there and you can definitely tell that it tried. It’s probably just a writing limitation. Unfortunately, the writing is fairly weak. There’s a lot of language throughout and edgy lines that serve no purpose being here. Some of the dialogues between the characters will make you wince or try to tune them out. Rocket threatening to place something vile on Peter’s bed was just sad and Ego talking about how he built his body was unnecessary. It’s little scenes like that coupled with everything else that begin to add up through the long haul.
Despite all of this, you should be satisfied with the action and explosions here. The film gives you everything you could want in a summer blockbuster. There’s a lot of banter and excitement around most corners. There are points in the film where not much happens, but I still wouldn’t really call these parts boring as the setting and characters are interesting enough. There are two kinds of films. Those that are fun to watch regardless of their quality and those that are not. I can safely say that this one is still enjoyable enough where you can try to overlook the negatives until the film ends. Your opinion of it will then start to deteriorate, but that’s an after effect. I’d also see this any day of the week over many other films.
One thing I’ll hope for in the third film is a longer fight. We had a brief fight with Peter and Quill, but that was the only real fight in the movie. The rest of the action scenes were just general action scenes against giant monsters or massacre fight scenes with the heroes wrecking a lot of flunkies. I’m hoping for more actual fights since the first film had quite a few of those. The Nebula vs Gamora fights here would be a highlight in that regard although again…they were pretty short. I always place fights above action scenes, but naturally having both of them is always a good thing.
There are quite a few post credit scenes 80’s style. They’re filmed like bloopers in a sense, but take place after the film. Some are important and others aren’t. One of them teases a new character who may show up in the 3rd film. Honestly, I wish he had shown up here since a fight with Ego probably would have been a lot of fun. Also, this guy is a personal favorite of mine so I have no doubt that he would have elevated the film. Another scene showed a group of classic characters. I can’t say that I’m super hyped for the group, but I did think that the rocky actor stole the show so it’d be pretty fun to see him return. A certain teenager who appears in one of the scenes is someone that I hope to never see show up. Luckily this wish will likely be granted. It was fun to see various cameos during the film as well. Referencing the rest of the Marvel cosmic mythos is always a good idea. Sadly Thanos didn’t show up this time, but Infinity War is finally getting closer so that’s good.
Overall, Volume 2 had quite a lot of problems. It started out really rough, had a bumpy ride during the middle, and then had a reasonably good climax. It’s still a fairly engaging film, but it tries way too hard to be funny. It’s an unsuccessful attempt. The characters are unlikable which takes you out of the film at times especially in Groot’s case. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t want to watch again at least not for a very, very long while, but for a one time viewing it wasn’t bad. At the very least you can’t say that the film isn’t engaging. There’s a good amount of action and excitement all around with witty dialogue in between all of the “witty” dialogue. I’d make a parallel to films like Suicide Squad, Lucy, Batman vs Robin, and other such films. They’re pretty entertaining while you watch them, but afterwards you still can’t give them a positive It’ll be fun to see the team show up in Infinity War, but beyond that, the Guardians don’t need another film. That or we just need a fresh new take on the Guardians. Get some new writers and we’ll see what they can do. In the meantime, I’m cautiously optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok (Gladiator scenarios don’t have the greatest track record and I can totally imagine some animal violence there, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and Spider-Man. (Worst Peter Parker…ever!) With the summer just starting, we’ll see how the rest of the films stack up. King Kong and Guardians may not have led it off to the strongest of starts, but the year is young.