Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)



I’ll even ease into the spoilers so you have a chance to get out before you read too much. The first GotG is one of my favorite movies. I can watch it anytime and I still have a Niagara Falls’ reaction to several moments throughout the movie. It’s a straightforward ensemble movie with pitch-perfect character development. All the pieces fit without too much complication but could’ve easily fallen apart if in the hands of the wrong writer/director/story-teller.

In James Gunn I trust.

How he approached a sequel where characters are already established yet need to grow, learn, and face new challenges. It’s not as though there should be a new villain origin story happens around a comfort zone of safe and expected main character beats. There is a natural progression that should feel safe. Taking chances for the sake of character development is a risk.
Was Guardians of the Galaxy a fluke? Well, at this time since its first screenings a few weeks ago it’s scoring better than anything, ever! Hyperbole… or is it?

The first 10 minutes of the movie is pure delight. It begins with “Missouri – Earth – 1980” and the 1980’s Kurt Russell driving a Mustang with Peter Quill’s mom is CGI perfection, there is no uncanny valley. The next sequence is the reintroduction of the GotG hired for a job to protect a very valuable resource from a space slug (seen in the trailers). Instead of focusing on the big adult-sized action, the camera decides that Baby-Groot is much more interesting… and yes, he is. It also foreshadows how each participant in the movie will have his/her focus/POV.

In James Gunn I trust.

There are a lot of things going on in this movie and it’s all about family dynamics. If you can’t find at least ONE thing that makes you cringe, laugh, or cry then you’re not human. James Gunn crafted something extremely rare and special when it comes to more than a handful of themes amongst a varied cast of characters: resolution.

Spider-Man might have something where he realizes through his Uncle Ben’s death that “with power comes responsibility” but it was a beat-into-the-ground carryover black seed within Peter Parker for every frickin’ movie. The gravity of that moment is lost and, in fact, really, the original Raimi Spider-Man didn’t sweat as much emotion in Uncle Ben’s murder as Peter Quill’s mom dying from brain cancer did within the first 3 minutes of GotG.

In James Gunn I trust.

Something will fail. Something will get lost. There are too many characters to fulfill, something or something must be left behind… but it doesn’t because:

In James Gunn I trust.

Right now this is James Gunn’s Empire Strikes Back, Seven Samurai, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Last Starfighter, and Pulp Fiction. Gunn poured himself into every second of this movie, there is no stone unturned and all forms of family dynamics within particular point of views/perspectives. It’s a lot deeper than one would expect and this is why GotGV2 is going to become one of those movies you’re going to appreciate more after each sequent viewing.

The relationships include the Ravagers down to an eco-system of small single-celled organisms. Thick. Pendulous matters of what it is to be human, mortal, immortal, an asshole, innocent, ignorant, righteous, vengeful, myopic, caring, accepting, forgiving, loyal, stupid, accountable, rebel, and redeemed.

See, and that’s all the deeper things that sprout from the surface. This is why the movie is pleasing a whole spread of wide demographics. You can enjoy it on the surface as well as engorging toward the core. It’s also so insanely funny and cleaver in the way that comedy should be. There are some surprising “dirty” jokes but done in an innocently acceptable way where it points a finger back at “us” for being prudes.

OK, well, I guess this turned out to be, pretty much, a spoiler-free review. I think most of the spoiler and cameo stuff isn’t worth mentioning because the whole heart of the movie is what I already mentioned and should be merited for that alone. Everything else is pretty much expected, warranted, or simply a cherry on top. Some real tragic moments yet heroism from sources that deserved a spotlight (keeping it in the family) – cryptically speaking.

Finally – stay through the entire credits. They make it easy to do so and it’s well worth your time.

Adam Rutkowski