So after taking a little bit of time to gather my thoughts about this sequel i definitely still thoroughly enjoyed it, there was a lot it did good, stuff it did not so good, and plenty of stuff i couldn’t talk about in my regular review HERE. So here i will be going deep into full SPOILER territory so if you haven’t seen the film go read my spoiler free review for the time being, otherwise lets get into this film.
The first and biggest thing i want to talk about here is obviously Kurt Russell’s character ‘Ego the Living Planet’, who not only is Starlord’s dad but is also the big bad villain of the entire film only you don’t actually know it until the final act. Firstly i have to say, the fact that Marvel was able to keep the secret that Ego was the villain under wraps through the films entire development and promotional period is fantastic and something that is very rarely seen in modern cinema. That being said i LOVED Ego as a villain and i would say he definitely breaks the trend of Marvel having pretty average underdeveloped and basically uninteresting villains. What really made Ego stand out to me is that unlike other Marvel villains you spend a lot of the film getting to know him as a character and as a person (or planet) before you even get any hint that there is something lying beneath the surface. This for the first time gives the villain a strong backstory, and enough developed history to where you understand where he is coming from, and you understand his plan as being more than just “i want to kill everything” (which is still at its core what his plan is).
Kurt Russell was by far the best choice to play Ego because you needed someone talented enough to really play up the likeable aspects of his character so that the audience loves him, and is on his side. And you need the audience to be completely on board with Ego if you want the big reveal to be effective and it is definitely really fucking effective. Now in terms of the reveal, there were really two steps in getting the audience to turn on a character who up until the third act everyone seemed to like. The first was the great way James Gunn built up to and revealed Ego’s true past as someone who was going to every habitable planet and impregnating someone of another species in order to hopefully end up with a spawn who was capable of the same god-like powers he was and would want to work together in controlling or ‘becoming’ multiple planets. This was a really cool evil ploy they revealed to get everyone turning on Ego, but they managed to retain one bit of his humanity by still eluding to the fact that he really did love Peter’s mother Meredith before she unfortunately passed away.
But then, you have that second step, that second reveal that it was really Ego who planted the tumour in Meredith that led to her dying in front of Peter. THIS was a key moment because what was initially the audience just going against this villain because he was an evil villain turned into genuine HATE for Ego the character. It really was genius how Gunn accomplished this transition over the course of the film from liking the character, to disliking the character, then to severely wanting the character to suffer a long, painful, and horrible death.
Speaking of Dads, Yondu was a larger part of this film film and a great addition to the team as here he is essentially one of the guardians. His dynamics with the entire crew were great but his constant back and forth with Rocket was especially amazing. Their relationship in this lent itself to plenty of humorous moments but also a really good amount of strong emotional moments that gave you more insight into both of their characters history and who they really are. Yondu was very well developed here and plays into the idea of family and parenthood that is a core theme within the entire film. You get a bit more of a focus on his past with Peter and his reasons for not delivering the kid to Ego, and raising him under his care. What initially came across as Yondu being a selfish criminal in the first film actually worked to give him a sympathetic side and learning of what he did FOR Peter as essentially a parent was a cool character redeeming moment. And then as you know Yondu does meet his end in the final moments of the film and just to tie it all together he goes out protecting Peter as he did so many years prior. His death was emotional and handled very well amongst all of the chaos going on in the rest of the film.
One of the other minor villains in the film was Taserface and as far as the minor villains go in this film he was an ok one, but not for his badassery, rather for the amount of humour we were able to get through his interactions with Rocket. Now, the whole joke about his name sounding stupid was funny and kinda meta but in my review i spoke about not noticing up any jokes that were run into the ground due to going for too long. But, in reflection, the joke about his name being dumb did outstay its welcome. I mean, the first 1 or 2 times MAX it was really funny, it got massive laughs from the audience and was really effective, but it kept going, both within its introductory scene and in the scenes that followed. So much so that by the 6th time i didn’t know why they were still hammering home that point, like the last time it is played out with a gold person over the intercom it wasn’t funny and it was very predictably going to happen, if you didn’t know that joke was going to happen then, you’re lying.
That leads into another not so great part of the film which was the inclusion of the Gold Lady and her gold people in pretty much the entire film. From the opening scene i didn’t really know or care who they were and by the end i still didn’t know much more than they love batteries and treating war like a VR arcade game. I don’t know the leader’s name and i don’t care to look her up, she was a very sub-par villain who wasn’t interesting, funny, or engagingly evil. She will forever be known as ‘The Gold Lady’ as ‘Gold Leader’ is already taken by Star Wars. Seriously though, the action scenes where the many unmanned drones are going up against the guardians were entertaining but any time it cut back to the gold people’s base it was not good. I don’t think there was more than one small chuckle in those scenes and they were way more annoying than funny.
Now i think that’s enough about the villains so on to the various things we had going on with our heroes. Chris Pratt was just as good as you’d expect as Peter Quill really owning and channeling the character like no-one ever could at this point. As mentioned earlier he did have a really good story playing out with Ego which was definitely a highlight and he also had some more romantic development with Gamora which played out well in the end. But what i wanted to bring up was the revelation that Peter actually has superpowers other than his quick wit. I thought this was a really cool revelation that he had the power to move and manipulate energy and masses of rock. The moment where he turns himself into a giant Pac-Man was hilarious and that 5 second scene was better, cooler, and more nostalgic than the entire ‘Pixels’ movie. I don’t know if it really makes sense that he loses his powers if his planet dad dies, but i guess you can just say that the power lies within the planet’s core and he can only harness it not hold it and that would be an easy way for Gunn to get rid of it before Infinity War without the need for any explanation.
Everyone went into this film wanting to see Baby Groot and James Gunn knew that so you definitely get a lot of Baby Groot right from the opening scene. That opening dance number was so genius and such a creative way to open the film that it fit perfectly with what Guardians of the Galaxy is. He was very cute, very funny, and i know people are going to want more Baby Groot in the future but i am really happy we aren’t going to get any. Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing and i think leaving Baby Groot alone is the right choice.
There is a side-plot involving Gamora and Nebula and their history as sisters and being abused by Thanos that in the end paid off and was pretty decent. It actually did add a little more to their relationship and actually worked in developing the least interesting character in the franchise; Nebula, into someone we could connect with a little more. But unfortunately i think this is definitely leading to Nebula getting killed in the near future as her going off to find and kill Thanos in the end is not going to end well at all. Drax and Mantis have a really comical relationship that even gets into some brief emotional territory late in the film. They were the perfect pairing as their very similar behaviour lent itself to many funny moments. But speaking specifically about Drax one thing that was just recently bought to my attention is that ‘Drax the Destroyer’ did no actual destroying outside of the opening battle. In retrospect this is actually a disappointing thing but the fact that i didn’t notice this within the film speaks to the fact that even though he was used purely for jokes the entire time the jokes were funny and very effective so i guess this isn’t really a bad thing.
Speaking of bad things…………. that second act was really not great, but not bad. I mentioned it in my non-spoiler review but just to add a little more context; from the moment when the guardians split up with half being imprisoned by ravagers and half going to Ego’s planet right up until you find out that Ego is up to something evil (so the entire second act) i wasn’t a massive fan. That entire sequence had some moments of ok character and relationship exploration, it went into more of Peter and Ego bonding, there was some Yondu and Rocket bonding, and there were some brief pockets of humour here and there. But overall this was a much slower act, with not a whole lot going on, not a whole lot of plot progressing, and it looked like the film had almost slowed down a stop. The pacing was off and in those moments i wasn’t loving the film and where i though the pacing was more consistent and better in the first film.
As this is a Marvel film there are after credits scenes but this time we were blessed with not 1, not 2, but 5 after credits scenes. Thankfully they weren’t all scenes setting up the next 5 Marvel movies because that would have been exhausting, rather they were all predominantly either for comedic purposes or for possibly setting up characters to appear in future Guardians films.
- The first scene focuses on Kraglin played by Sean Gunn who was actually a standout supporting role in the film. But in the scene you have him playing with that awesome mohawk that Yondu briefly adopted and learning to use the whistling arrow. He ends up accidentally stabbing Drax with it for a good comedic moment.
- I believe the second scene featured Sylvester Stallone’s supporting character Stakar Ogord meeting up with a bunch of random characters. Originally i didn’t know the value of this scene but upon further research it looks as though the people he met with were the original Guardians from the Marvel comics; Charlie 27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Krugarr, and Mainframe (Miley Cyrus). This could be cool possibly introducing them properly later down the track.
- The third scene i think is the one with Groot now all grown up and is smack bang in the middle of his teenage years. There is a funny exchange between Peter and Groot playing on the typical jokes and stereotypes made about real life teenagers. This is where i love that now we are going to get a third new variation of Groot in future guardians films that lends itself to new jokes as oppose to rehashing the same Baby Groot material.
- The fourth scene opens up with The Gold Lady…… YAY……. But the cool part is when she talks about the impending birth of a being from a cocoon who she intends to name Adam. This is obviously hinting at the arrival of Adam Warlock, a character who i know nothing about but i know many people are eager to see come into play after he was also teased in the first Guardians film.
- Now the final scene i thought was going to be a big moment that would blow everyones mind. When the scene was over i didn’t really know what it was other than another Stan lee cameo of him referencing one of his cameos in another Marvel film. But after looking into it further it is apparent that the people with the big heads are ‘Watchers’ beings who watch over significant events on various planets in the universe. What it may be eluding to is that Stan Lee is himself a Watcher (without a big head) and the reason he is in all of these Marvel films is because he is keeping an eye on all of the crazy shit going on. If that is the case, that is pretty damn cool.
So there you have it, that is my Spoiler Review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 touching on all of the elements of the film i couldn’t mention in my regular review (that i can remember). If you are looking for the score i gave this film you can find that HERE in my non-spoiler review. So now we wait until next year where ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Will Return’.