Ph LEVEL Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

guardians

The first Guardians of the Galaxy film is one of my favorite Marvel titles, and I knew going into this this that I should be excited. James Gunn is an amazing director who understands the nuances of his characters better than any director really should. He know what we, the fans, want to see in these films, and he makes the movie that he himself would like to watch.

That trait is admirable if only because many directors don’t work like that, instead adhering to a strict executive-level method of film-making that caters to the larger audience in an attempt to get the biggest buck. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes that “fuck it” attitude that James Gunn has developed and amps it up into the most glorious, and ridiculous comic book film ever made.

Hit the jump for my spoiler-filled review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

I’m giving you one more warning, because there are a lot of spoilers in this review. Not for the jokes themselves but for many of the Easter Eggs and post-credits scenes, as well as pivotal story points.

You’re good? Alright.

The original team is back, and in the several months that follows the first film leading up to this one (it takes place a few months after the first film), many things have changed with our characters. The biggest, of course, is Baby Groot.

Baby Groot is a remarkably likable character, and the opening sequence in which he dances to the music while the rest of the team fight a dimension-jumping monster is an opus in how to start a film on the right track. It immediately sets the tone for a fun ride of a movie that never really lets off the gas in engaging you. Whether it’s a joke that is laugh-out-loud funny, or an emotionally gut-punching moment, you’re never left alone in this film. Baby Groot is one of the reasons for that, as his innocence just palpitates off the screen, forcing to smile and awe at how fucking adorable he is.

Drax has seemed to change the most during his time with the team, with his caring for his new family being the motivation that drives him throughout. He’s the source of most of the best jokes in the film, and his relationship with Mantis, or lack thereof, is one of the high-points, which is saying something. Mantis herself as a character is an innocent in the film, who has been locked up with Ego on his planet, being used as a slave for her entire life. Her lines involving Rocket and him being a “puppy” made the entire theater hysterical, and she’s by far the best addition to the team at the end of all of this.

Rocket and Yondu are parallels in the film, following a similar arc to the realization that they’re the same, with Yondu’s sacrifice to save Peter being the catalyst for a change in Rocket, as he was so focused on pushing away the team and those who care about him. Yondu especially takes center stage, with his Mary Poppins line being the hands-down best joke in the entire movie.

Gamora and Nebula, and their relationship also take center stage here, with the two coming to a resolution, after Nebula confesses the strife that Gamora put her through in her attempts for survival as the daughters of Thanos.

The two stars of the film, though, are Star Lord and his father, Ego. Star Lord takes by far the furthest arc of all, as his father, Ego finally finds him and brings him to his world. Which is him. His father is Ego, The Living Planet. Retconned in the film to be a Celestial in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he started out as a brain of pure energy, and formed a planetoid around himself using his incredible matter manipulating abilities. After being lonely for so long, Ego sets off on a voyage around the Universe to find life, and after finding it, deems it to be disappointing. Thus begins his purpose, of spreading himself across the cosmos and implanting planets all over the Universe with his being. However, and here it where the conflict lies. One Celestial is not powerful enough to harness the energy needed to take over all of these planets. But two? That could work. So, Ego impregnates women all over the cosmos, waiting for one of his offspring to take the Celestial gene.

Cue Star Lord.

After finding him, and nearly convincing him to take up the cause, Ego reveals that he killed the only person that ever mattered to Peter… his Mother. Planting the brain tumor that slowly ate her alive, in order to remove her from his own life, Ego admits he truly loved Meredith Quill, and nearly gave up his “purpose” for her. This is my only fault with the film, and it’s really not much of an issue. The film felt so personal, with the relationship between Peter and his Father, that the stakes: the Universe being consumed by Ego all at once, didn’t entirely sink in. We only care about the characters in the film, and what happens to them, and their journey at hand. It’s a personal observation that didn’t take away from the film in any way, but was a thought that crossed my mind.

As for the easter eggs… damn. First off, Stan Lee’s cameo was a MASSIVE reveal across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it’s revealed that this entire time he has been playing the same character. An informant for the Watchers. Reporting back all the insane things that have been taking place across the cosmos since the MCU’s inception. Not to mention we get another look at Howard the Duck, now free on Contraxia. Adam Warlock is mentioned in the post-credits scene with Ayesha, as it’s looking like he will now be a creation of the Sovereign, meant to be used as a weapon against the Guardians before inevitably switching sides. The Celestial, Eternity, is mentioned by Peter when he gains full access to Ego’s “light.” And, in a smaller easter egg, we see Peter’s Grandfather, still alive, but considerably older, get unknowingly saved by Peter right before Ego consumes him on Earth. It’s a small moment that reminds you that Peter is human, among all the talk of Celestials and gods.

Overall, I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun watching a movie. It was an incredible balance of humor, emotion, and action that propelled this to what will easily be one of the best films of the year. It was an absolute blast that I plan on seeing multiple times, and a great way to start this year’s Summer Blockbuster season.

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