By Brandon Schmidbauer (New Jersey)

 

We Are Groot!!! – (Spoiler Free!!!)

The Summer Movie season has unofficially started with a gem in the superhero film genre. After the success of the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy, back in August of 2014, director James Gunn has done it again. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 came out of May 5th of 2017 (USA) and has already been a success overseas (UK and Europe Markets). As a matter of fact, as of opening weekend, domestically, it has made over 194 million dollar and will still be dominating for at least for a few more weekends. In recent news, even before the Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 has been released in the states, James Gunn stated that there will be a Vol 3 in the near future for another great adventure of Peter Quill, Gamora, Groot and all the rest of the Guardians team. With all the success aside, let’s dive into this film to flush out what may make this sequel better than it’s original. This new film will test this ragtag bunch of misfits with new and old allies and a few antagonist thrown in, new planets these Guardians will adventure into, exciting adventures they will behold onto the audience, face the atmosphere set forth and dissertation from the first frame to the last.

New Faces, Old Foes:

The Guardians themselves have more character development in this one then the last. Outside of centering on the Guardians new adventure, Peter still has burning questions stuck inside his mind, who is my father and why did he leave him and his mother. Peter is the leader of this band of Misfits, but seems more father like to Rocket and Groot in a way, his father wasn’t for him.

Even Drax and Rocket gets more screen time and development then last time around. Rocket and Drax had been frenemies for the most part of the last film, they are more comical and more fatal in the sequel. Ever since Drax pat his head, at the end of the last film, Rocket accepts him in almost brother/friend like and cares more this time around.

All members of the Guardians have great chemistry. For instance, the love struggle between Peter and Gamora comes full circle during this fun adventure. She is still a bad-ass assassin with sister issues but she adds more to this movie in terms of story line then any supporting character. Gamora has come a long way from trying to steal the “Power” orb from Peter. I think since the first one ended, Peter and the rest of the Guardians made her feel more acceptable in this family then her own.

Baby freaking Groot!!! He steals every scene he is in. The opening scene is fun and yet action packed. Outside of introducing who’s in this film, it sets the tone on how the rest of the film will go. With a big baddy in the background fighting the rest of the Guardians, Baby Groot shows his dances moves as he avoids danger {See Title Scene of Guardians 1}.

New films in a trilogy will always have new faces added to the ever so huge lineup of characters. Outside of the old cast of misfits, Peter Quill, Rocket, Drax, Gamora, Groot (baby), and some of the returning characters Nebula and Yondu (with his crew), as well as new faces Mantis, Ego, Ayesha, Stakar Ogord, and Taserface (Yes, you read that right, Taser Freaking Face).

Each new character bring their own spin to the world of the MCU. Mantis, for instance, was raised by Kurt Russell’s (Ego) character from birth. Mantis’ abilities can flesh out any feelings (Empathy) you may have, deep down inside, for another character(s). Her character brings out the human aspect of each Guardian, whether touched or not, since she never experienced social interactions before. Her chemistry with Drax, Peter, and Gamora feels like family in her eyes outside of being funny to the audience. It’s almost like, a socially awkward person finally finds their place in a family. Furthermore, since she has been living on a planet, made by a Celestial, she grew up with Ego’s avatar as a father figure.

Ego is not a new character in the comic world. Ego (played by the great Kurt Russell). If you’re not familiar with his character at all, know that he is a living planet that made himself a human avatar for a more humor element. I am going to say this, Ego is the best antagonist in the Guardians arch, better than Ronan the Accuser. He (Kurt) puts more emotional acting abilities for this character and seeing Peter (Chris) for the first time in over three (3) decades. Emotions fly high when it happens but Peter has more questions than emotions for his long lost dad, but there is more than meets the eye to his dad then Peter realizes.

Another new comer to this Guardian’s universe (Film), is the femme fatale, Ayesha and her golden army. The leader of the Sovereign people. Elizabeth Debicki is one great actress to give her character to screen. With little screen time, she portrays her character, just like an England princess of the 20th century. She commands her people with focus, persistence and to not stop to get what they cherish back.

To quote Rocket Raccoon, “I am so sorry. I just keep imagining you waking up in the morning, start looking in the mirror and all seriously say to yourself. You know what would be a really kick-ass name, Taserface!” A character that does not take from the source material at even 50%. The spine of the Ravagers, Taserface commands his team of Ravagers to take what they want, even a current Ravager position. Chris Sullivan, Taserface, makes this character a comic relief; however, if you aren’t aware of him (Comic form) he falls off the radar in this film. His interactions with Rocket are the best thing going for his character and that’s saying a lot. The audience has to love the interactions with him (Taserface), Rocket and Yondu.

With Rocky, himself, officially entering the MCU as one of the “original” members of the first comic book adaption of the Guardians is great. Him and Yondu relationship reminds me of Apollo and Rocky relationship from the 1st in the beginning (comparing from Guardians 1) and towards the end, it changes into a Rocky 3 relationship (referencing the end of this one). Going into this movie, not knowing what direction they went in with him, I thought he would be a great elder character, just like Jeff Goldblum (in Thor: Ragnarok). With all the new and returning characters, this movie make great cast choices and I can’t wait to see who will appear in this next Volume.

Brave New Worlds:

Innumerous new worlds are explored in the MCU to date and even since we got a taste of the worlds like Xandar, Kree, and Knowhere planets and settings. From the first frame on Planet Earth (Missouri) {Flashback} and the Sovereign golden world to Ego’s Planet, Contraxia and Berhert, it is a huge, vibrant, and complex world that the Guardians will have to adventure into. Each location the Guardians visit have a different color panel, tonality and entertaining atmosphere while the whole universe feels the effects of this movie.

Missouri (Planet Earth):

The opening frame, we open to a bright and warm atmosphere of 1980’s Missouri were Star-Lord’s (Peter Quill) parents meet and plant the seeds of everlasting love and life(Light of Ego’s world). The brightness and warmness of the scenes bring you into this new world of adventure and finally get a small back story on how Ego and Meredith came to be. You feel more “At home” with this scene then most scenes in this film itself. It is a warm feel almost like a great welcome home (Warmth) moment for the audience and comparing it to a veteran coming home for the first time in many years. This helps the audience connect with Ego and Meredith more and grow happy with their characters from page 1.

Throughout this adventure, they do visit Missouri (Present day) a few more times but from the opening scene, the tone gets colder as the film continues onward. In my opinion, starting with the warmth welcome into Ego’s back story, is a great combine of using the color pallet for what the audience will feel watching this film, at least for the planet earth scenes.

The Sovereign Golden World:

Welcome to the Golden World of the most highly advanced, genetically-engineered galactic race of the MCU. To quote Rocket, “You know, they told me you people were conceded douche bags, but that isn’t true at all.” This race are coated in gold to show their more highly advanced than any other race throughout the galaxy. Once we (the audience) visit their planet for the first time, we get a sense of distaste for this race after hiring the Guardians to take care of their dirty work. Outside of the golden physical appearance, their home are also covered in gold and have lots of blue shadow to them. When I was watching this, I was saying to myself, “Never trust anyone with a golden complex and blue shadows!”

In this context, the atmosphere of their home world, is compared to the sun. The golden bright sun rays (Gold) invite you in, but after you stay for too long, you see the darker, more damaging side (Blue) of the sun. This all turns in the matter of seconds when Rocket couldn’t help himself (Seeing their golden possessions) and being the character he is, helps himself to what the Sovereign people cherish with their lives. Once this happens, they quickly turn against the same people that helped them out (Blue effect). Throughout this adventure, we get a strong taste of “Gold” while the Guardians protect the universe.

Ego’s Planet:

It is about time that the great Kurt Russell gets his own planet!!!! This living and breathing planet, Ego, has finally come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The planet is a self-sustaining living Eco-system and he is the father of Star-Lord (Peter Quill). Outside of that, Ego has only a population of one (1) and most of its surface, is greenery and mountain like structures outside of Ego’s palace.

The look of Ego’s world is downright amazing. It is probably the best vivid color panels of all planets in the MCU so far. From the organic looking clockwork imagery abyssal to the captivating defined of plant life on its surface. In my opinion, this planet is not just an action set piece or a place for the last act to be set on, but the planet itself is more of an eye open moment for the characters. That eye opening moment shows them the true meaning behind life and how it’s more important to them as a whole team then a single individual. During the final act of this film, that bright vivid pallet goes away and is replaced with an “iced” cold blue tone pallet.

Contraxia:

Only on this planet for a few scenes, but in the comic’s, this planets sun is dying and most, if not all, the planet is cold and snowy. Contraxia is a planet were the Ravagers are for a little R N R. It is a very snow covered planet with not much of a bright vibrant color pallet. In fact, the planet’s atmosphere is simple to Yondu’s mood during these scenes. Very cold, lack of color, almost like a man lost in his mind on his future. Even though, there are some bright colors, it quickly gets merged with white, grey and blue, just like a snow storm’s aftermath. The pallet changes once that “Gold Princess” enters and brightens the scene and gives them vivid chromatic.

Berhert:

After crash landing on this planet, the Guardian find refuge on this lively, forest green planet. The atmosphere here is similar to a huge vibrant forest covering the whole planet. Just like Contraxia, the Guardians only spend some time on this planet during the film. Once the Guardians land on this planet, they immediately feel like home and there is a reason why. The color pallet is a vivid base green of all colors. Outside of greens, tans and browns are there as well, making Groot feel like he is home. During a few scenes, the vivid pallet changes once Ego and the Ravagers track them there and are the welcome party for the Guardians.

During this whole film, the director and editor(s) plays with a lot of color pallets. From the early days in Missouri to all over Act three (3) on Ego, the effects on audience and emotions are played through their color pallets. For instance, the pallet in the beginning of this film (Missouri) is a more happy and full of love (orange and warm) pallet than Contraxia where that vivid pallet is a brutal cold, sickly blue (sadden, down on your luck) pallet. In a sense, each planet is categorized by the colors of emotions for the audience so they can be right in on the action, drama and suspense plaguing our Guardians of the Galaxy.

Travel through the Universe with the Guardians:

We start off this awesome adventure with the Guardians, just fresh from saving the Xandar and other planets from Ronan, being hired to dispatch a pest problem for the Golden Sovereign people. Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot (Baby form) are officially in the hero business and decide to take up the offer to help the Sovereign people out in exchange for something or someone very precious to them. Soon, one thing leads to another and the Guardians find themselves on the run from the super-advanced beings led by their leader Ayesha from some not so heroic behaviors. The opening act of this film has to be one of the best in the whole MCU. Not only do you get a dancing baby Groot, not like the ending of the last one, but you will be more then entertained by the action throughout this scene. It really sets the stage on what is to come later on in the film.

As soon as there is no hope in sight for the Guardians, they get help from a “little man” as Drax puts it. On the verge of destroying the Guardians, The Sovereign mystically fall to a little man called EGO. After crash landing on the planet Berhert, the Guardians have an unexpected guest come and follow their ship. That guest is Ego, accompanied by his associate, Mantis. After Ego proclaims that he is the real life father of Peter Quill, Peter ceases to believe this. Once Ego offers him answers if they travel with him to his “World” Peter, Drax and Gamora agree to this, since he just single handily saved their lives.

Once they depart from Peter’s ship, Nebula (who was exchanged for helping the Sovereign people), Rocket and Baby Groot are stuck having to fix the ship and wait for them to get back. Unfortunately, more trouble has come their way, when the Sovereign people hire the Guardians old friend (Yondu) and his group of Ravagers to track and capture the Guardians down.

As Peter, Drax and Gamora travel with Ego and Mantis to their home world, Rocket, Nebula and Baby Groot, are tracked down by Yondu and his Ravagers. After Rockets playful toys, Yondu says enough is enough and sends his favorite toy to stop Rocket from playing with more toys.

James Gunn loves to give more characters depth and meaning for his story’s and not place them on screen just for the look and feel of it. After Yondu’s falling grace from their first adventure, he {James} places Yondu in the fore front of these scenes in context that he will get his just deserts.

Ego, on the other hand, has pause and reason for being. His story arch has finally completed when he is finally reunited with his son, Peter Quill. However, Peter is having his doubts at first about his estranged father. Even though, James places this film before the events of Civil War, Peter has a Civil War of his own, inside himself. James plants the seeds of hope and doubt together inside the heads of Peter and Gamora, meanwhile, Drax hits it off with Mantis, who he find “dance” worthy. Not only does Peter have some sort of “daddy issues” through this film, both Nebula and Gamora have been fighting for their dad’s, Thanos, love ever since the first film. James Gunn really paints a great big picture of daddy issues, love and betrayal in the first two Acts.

Once on Ego’s home world, Peter finally finds the truth of how his father came to be. Peter finds more then he wishes when he holds the worlds and universe in the palms of his hands. Here, Ego wants to show Peter what it’s like to live as a god and as a celestial. Gamora thinks this is too good to be true and starts to investigate Ego’s home world and the depths of his core to find out why. Meanwhile, Mantis and Drax hit it off, but gives away more information then she wanted to. While Gamora searches for answers, Peter playing a version of catch with his new found father, and Drax and Mantis finding each other, the rest of the Guardians are now at the hands of Yondu and his Ravagers as hostages.

Baby Groot and Rocket are at the mercy of the Ravagers and their new Face in which one was Tasered. Nebula escape her captivity and tracks her sister down. The rest of the Ravagers enjoy some much needed sleep while the rest of the Guardians plan their escape to rejoin up with up with Peter, Drax, and Gamora on Ego. With the help of an unlikely old foe, Rocket and Baby Groot finally escape from the hands of the Ravager’s. They travel to Ego’s planet where the third act takes us roll coaster ride.

I won’t talk in depth the third act but will go over it in non-spoiler detail. While every Guardian verge onward toward Ego, Peter and Ego’s (aviator) feels more rushed in this third act then most of the movie itself. With daddy issues since the first film, Peter realizes his purpose in this world and that isn’t finding his father figure since his father figure has been by his side the whole time.

During this third act, what Ego does shouldn’t come as a surprise to the audience. This is fine since Ego’s social awkward and tragic delegate, Mantis, helps Drax and the rest of the Guardians, forced out my Gamora, to spell out trouble early on in this Act. The real of Ego’s plan is very premeditated than definitive here. When Peter finds the tragic truth from Ego and what he is up to, he is at an end pass with his blood father and his Guardians family. With funny father and son moments throughout the film, when it comes to the third act, there isn’t much breathing room here. During the Ego’s plan reveal, it comes as a more dramatic turn and feels like a box checked for a huge third act battle.

Emotions fly high when Nebula reveals, to Gamora, the pain she was put through and when Yondu finally reveals his regrets to Peter and the rest of the team. After learning what Ego’s up to, Peter finally snaps out of this “Father and Son” trance. He finally realizes what’s more important in his life. Yes, those father and son moments pull at your heart string, but they are so artificial, your diet soda would be laughing at you. During the father and son catch scene, Ego makes Peter create an artifice ball of light to through. That ball of light symbolizes a fake moment to them that isn’t real at all. Once Peter realizes this, it is too late for him and the rest of the Guardians to stop Ego and his master plan.

The ending itself still has an emotional weight to it even after you exist the theater. Even though the whole Ego character isn’t really that fleshed out in connection to the first one, it seems like he is just a stepping stone to further the Guardians family bond. Even the realization of Nebula, Yondu and Rocket grow in a spectacular part/moment for this film. It will come to a surprise to us, what we are going to get in a comic book movie, that we rarely know what these characters will do or say. James Gunn really paints a huge picture of these characters. He is never in a rush to get to the next action or drama scene without more details in a characters back story that structures them throughout the film itself. Even when actions unfold, he sometimes keeps it off-screen, both as a joke and to keep the characters fresh, clean, funny and always at the forefront, to keep the audience glued to their seat. This sequel has a fresh and clean structure with a smooth pacing from scene to scene that makes the first one weaker than this one and a great start to the summer movie season.

Welcome to the Guardians of the “Freaking” Galaxy:

In conclusion of this film, outside of some small minor flaws and many subplots that slows down the 2nd Act of the film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the most exciting, audacious, joyful and heartfelt film in the MCU today. Since the first film, we grow attached to these characters while on an emotional thrill ride from the first scene to the last. The importance of family and the connection it has towards each member and connections to humanity is present throughout the film. From a cybernetic raccoon, alien assassins, a one phrase talking sentient creature, a destroyer or star lords, in our souls lies an empirical yearning to see what happens to them throughout this film. During the film, Peter Quill, Gamora and Nebula, deal with their father issues, both bent on their own agendas, to see what is more important and is right in front of them, family. Outside of the stories and plots themselves, there are many Marvel Easter Eggs, found in all MCU movies, crammed into this film. Ranging from important characters featured throughout the whole Marvel comic and film universe with possibilities in the MCU down the line to familiar locations with aliens only hard-core Marvel comic audiences will fully appreciate and understand.

This sequel features a lot on emotions and colorful imagery to recapture the sincere heart and crackling energy of the first film. This film will tie us movie goers and MCU fan’s until the next major MCU event, namely, the Guardians’ appearance in the Avengers: Infinity War, rather than standalone next installment of the Guardians story. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will satisfy every MCU fan or fan of action, adventure and superhero film and will meet that audiences exceptions. ***Attention, Don’t leave until the end credits concluded for more Guardians and Marvel Cinematic Universe fun.

My Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomato Rating: Certified Fresh (81%) Average Rating 7.1/10*

*https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/guardians_of_the_galaxy_vol_2/

FYI: For all of my film reviews, please go to: http://nextdimensionpro.weebly.com/the-film-corner for all future film reviews and we do independent film reviews as well. You can send me an email stating what film you would like us to review and why.

Rating: 4/5

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