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Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Spoiler Free

GotGVol2-2

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The last time I reviewed a James Gunn Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) entry, there was so much delight everywhere because it was fresh and cool. It was a gift to my family that I treated them to the original film twice at the box office. It simply blew everyone’s minds, not just among MCU films, but among all space science fiction stories. Other studios took note of what Marvel did with the original Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) and tweaked how comics and space movies are made. Deadpool and Logan are prime examples of this out-of-the-box thinking. Now Gunn returns with a sequel that releases today with much more anticipation. Does GotG Vol. 2 hook our feelings again? Read on and find out.

Writing & Pacing
Gunn’s writing of GotG marries humor and heart all at once, but it’s way more pronounced in the sequel. The dialogue dives deeper into each character, not just in the laughs, but in their emotions as a family. If the original film was about the origins of each member in GotG Vol. 2, then the feeling of family and love is even more heightened and explored this time around. One would even say that it feels much more “family” than Vin Diesel’s other film franchise that touts the word as a source of motivation.

In terms of pacing with our characters, it was very well-handled. All of the conflicts and key interactions among the core group was as good as Joss Whedon’s handling of the original Avengers film. Again, this is attributed to Gunn’s writing and the development of his characters. The only flaw in pacing was the connection to all of the auxiliary characters and how their motives and timelines moved at a much quicker pace. We had more characters, with recognizable talented actors, introduced even until the very end of the film. It seemed like Vol. 2 needed to draw the line somewhere through the course of the film, but we can chalk it up to being a part of the bigger MCU. The Sovereign and The Ravagers were given an equal treatment of time, but we could’ve spent more time in their locations. A good example of ample time spent on a location in the original GotG was Knowhere. We didn’t get that this time around.

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Performances
The original film made Chris Pratt an A-List actor among a group that features the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Pratt continues to shine in his Han Solo-esque portrayal Peter Quill. Diesel has probably the easiest job at memorizing lines in this project than any other, but is still a welcomed addition. Cooper’s solid voice acting performance continue to make Rocket believable and lovable at the same time. Vol. 2 also showcases Dave Bautista’s comedic timing and depth, as well as newcomer Pom Klementieff’s display of emotional shifts as Mantis. Acting veteran Kurt Russell adds to his resume of memorable characters with his portrayal of Ego, which is a standout not seen since Tombstone and Stargate in the 90’s. Other stars, actors not actual stars in the galaxy, lurking in the background seem to serve as more of a setup for something bigger in future MCU cosmic stories.

Presentation
GotG Vol. 2 is a visual feast of colors. Anyone looking to get away from Earth, James Gunn invites you to travel his version of the MCU cosmos. I would be surprised if there’s a color that hasn’t been used in this film. Gunn’s ideas in presenting The Sovereign remind me of the quirkiness of Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element but taken to an 80’s max. It felt like Gunn filled this with so many surprises and Easter eggs that fans will need to re-watch this film multiple times to get them all. Last but not least, a cornerstone of the original GotG was music and dancing. Gunn’s choices in classic tracks are again solid. While the mixtape is not as good as the original, he does again introduce a new generation of fans to classic music by Sweet, George Harrison, Looking Glass and Sam Cooke. On the dancing front, the opening scene in Vol.2 is another gift from Gunn and tops the Pratt opening in the original. It’s beautifully shot and choreographed.

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Overall:
Overall, we expect a lot this time around since the original was so good. With all that pressure, James Gunn’s GotG Vol.2 delivers the quality goods. Casual movie-goers, MCU fans, and science fiction fans all get a solid bang for their buck at the box office.

A final thought is this…what separates this film from other comic book franchises with big production effects can be summed up in one four-letter word – “love”. You can feel that this film was carefully crafted with “love” in all of its components. James Gunn, Kevin Feigie, and Marvel Studios have gifted us with another beautiful gem. Here’s some reciprocated love right back with the overall rating for GotG Vol. 2.

Grade: A
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Pete Taase once was a Sith Lord, but was brought back from the depths of dark side by his younglings and old VHS cassettes that require the tracking button to make the screen clearer to view.

Twitter: @PeteTaase
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