By Jonathan DaSilva (New Bedford, MA)

 

When 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was released, it proved that Marvel Studios could reach deep into the expansive mythology of Marvel Comics and make even the most obscure properties into box office gold. With the success it gave Marvel Studios more confidence to bring in Ant-Man and Doctor Strange into their ever-growing cinematic universe. With a new Awesome Mix in hand, Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol.2 kicks off its wild ride with one of the best opening sequences for a film I’ve seen. I’d only place it behind the opening sequence in 2016’s Deadpool. The film itself takes place only a few months after the events in Guardians of the Galaxy so we still these A-holes with the fresh spirit from the first film coming into the second. Vol.2 in some aspects felt more contained versus the first film which itself felt like a intergalactic road trip.

While we do see more planets and experience an abundance of spectacle, much of the film’s over the top sequences happen in just a handful of locations surprisingly . You’d think that by containing the action within these locations that it would handicap the film. Where many films falter with this concept, Gunn’s exquisite utilization of the characters and the story itself makes it a moot point. The returning cast really does an incredible job at bringing this story to life. Chris Pratt’s performance as Star Lord takes the audience on an emotional journey as he learns his father’s identity and what that entails for him. I think for many fatherless kids and even adults, Star Lord’s journey will tug at your heart. This time around Drax’s unique form of humor comes across as a bit hit or miss which to me is really its only flaw which is quite minor. The jokes do land 90% of the time but sometimes it feels shoehorned.

Despite this minor complaint, Vol.2 is a fun and wild ride with a strong story and performances that will adhere to the audience for a long time to come. Kurt Russell’s performance as Ego the Living Planet was remarkable. I was quite impressed by the performances of newcomers Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha. Not sure if this was intentional but the character of Mantis had some interesting parallels with those on The Autism Spectrum. Ayesha escapes the fate that many MCU villains have faced before, just being a generic villain that The MCU typically puts out. Amazingly enough, Vol.2 along with Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War have begun to defy the MCU’s trend of disposable villains.

Her future involvement in The MCU will bring some big things. Yondu and Kraglin need to be highlighted for their performances in the film. Both character in the first film were quite entertaining but this time around they weren’t just entertaining but the added dimension in these characters really deserves to be highlighted. Also have to note the relationship between Nebula and Gamora, it reminds of times seeing my older sisters fight growing up. Their sibling rivalry is definitely relatable but with this film, it’s much deeper. It should come as no surprise that Baby Groot is the true star of this film. You can’t help but laugh or feel bad for the little one.

Story wise, it’s slightly lighter than other films in this ever growing genre but that’s not a bad point considering the film itself has a lot going on. I believe it was wise to split the team up and the added character development makes this sequel really stand out. The relationships that had been previously known are expanded upon and some new bonding within the film makes this a stronger film character wise. James Gunn has a solid hand when it comes to not only handling multiple characters but effectively making their arcs important to the story’s narrative. We have seen many examples of film that fail to utilize an ensemble cast effectively but Writer/Director James Gunn is a cinematic alchemist that can create movie magic with elements that may seem farfetched to the naked eye but the end result proves that Gunn knows what he’s doing. The father/son concept is very strong within this film. The overall concept of family is within the fabric of this movie’s DNA. Visually, Vol.2 is a visual feast for the eyes to behold. The soundtrack for Vol.2 dare I say it is much more effective than the previous film. If you can see this film without listening to the soundtrack first, it really connects with you and compliments the story brilliantly. Just like the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2 has the originality that makes this film stand out among the pack of films that follow a standardized formula.

Needless to say, Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol.2 is a Marvelous adventure that’s jam packed with strong performances, superlative pacing, and unique concepts that make this second installment one of Marvel Studios’ best outings. Vol.2 ranks as my second favorite sequel in a trilogy just behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is the most superior second installment in the MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy may not be the newest members of the block but with Vol.2, Guardians stand on top of the Comic Book Mount Olympus alongside the greats.

You’ll want to stay for the five post credit scenes as the MCU is known for their post credit sequences.

Rating: 5/5

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