Note: This is a spoiler-free(ish) review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
There are about a million ways to rank movies in the Internet age. One of the more popular ones is checking out the IMDb Top 250. There you’ll find Shawshank at number 1, a few Godfathers in the top 3, and Fight Club rounding out the top 10. Then one movie sticks out like a sore thumb at number 4 – The Dark Knight.
Comic book movies are the best thing going right now. They’re fun, they’re entertaining, and they rarely miss. It’s not very often that they’re critically acclaimed, however, on the same level as the Shawshanks and Godfathers of the world. The Dark Knight earned its place among that group, and rightfully so. Now you can add another to that list.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes you on a ride that is an Awesome Mix of emotion, visual effects, and musical accompaniment that results in what may be Marvel’s best movie yet.
If you’ve seen the first Guardians (you should before seeing this one) you know what’s coming. The franchise is unique in that it feels like a comedy first with a comic book plot mixed in, rather than the other way around. Vol. 2 is no different. Drax (Dave Bautista) shows out in this movie as the comedic star. If one-liners are your style, Drax is your man. Also, if you don’t laugh when he laughs you may not be human. Or a human spirit in a destroyer’s body. Whatever. Point is his laugh is contagious. Add the bickering between Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper), along with the comedically adorable Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) you’ve got a solid comedy that has you laughing pretty much throughout.
The comedy is to be expected. What came unexpectedly was the heartstring tugs that come with the overarching theme of the movie — family.
It’s no secret that Star-Lord’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell) is introduced in Vol 2. These two represent the biggest example of blood-related family ties. Star-Lord and Ego go through an intergalactic Field of Dreams version of catch, the birds and the bees, and everything in between. Pratt’s showcased range of emotion is impressive in the movie. He’s certainly graduated from the chubby physical comedian he started as.
Also going through the blood-related family arc is Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). This interaction is a bit of an extension from the first Guardians. It’s clear their relationship will never be perfect, but the alien sisters have some human moments that could remind some movie-goers of their own family.
Blood-related family is all well and good, but you can’t pick those relationships. The chosen family is where writer and director James Gunn really decided to give you all the feels. It’s also why Vol 2 is so distinct among comic book movies.
Our Guardian friends are obviously a chosen family. It’s hard not become tight knit when you’re busy saving the galaxy.Also, it should be added that Michael Rooker is phenomenal as Yondu. He’s still his thievin’ self when he has to be, but he also plays a bit of a role in the family theme and shows a brilliant range of character. Gunn throws a curve ball our way with Rocket, who in a sense finds his own father alongside Star-Lord. This leads to the rise of an unexpected character, but I’m not in the business of spoiling things so go see the movie to find out.
Chosen family or blood family, both storylines pointed back to one thing. The father-son relationship. Gunn makes a strong statement about it throughout the film, and if you have a memorable relationship with your father good luck keeping dust out of your eyes. If that’s not you, you’re still sure to hear some sniffles throughout the theater.
How often can that be said about a comic book movie? That’s what makes Vol. 2 distinct. And really it’s what makes it great.
Great. Now Give Me That Classic Guardians of the Galaxy Stuff!
Back to the stuff you know you’ll get from a Guardians film. The great thing about a movie like this (meaning a movie in space with talking raccoons, talking mini trees, and aliens from other galaxies) is the visual effects will always get better as the technology gets better. Vol. 2 brings it with the effects right from the second scene of the movie. The locations are colorful, the monsters are wild, and the explosions are, well, explosive. Go see it in IMAX if you get the chance.
In the music department, there’s a regular movie soundtrack and then there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Vol. 2 brings it just like the original, seemingly creating the music before the script. The film does a great job at creating the emotion it wants not just on screen but with what’s playing in the background. Now as I wax poetic about the entire film I will say I like the original soundtrack better than Vol. 2, but the original is hard to top. Still excellent this time around.
I don’t know if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will hang out with The Dark Knight in critically-ranked comic book films. Particularly because it only sits at an 8.2 on IMDb at the writing of this. What I am telling you is the film covers emotional ground and a bigger meaning while still being extremely entertaining throughout in a way few comic book movies have before.
Image courtest of Flixist.com