The general consensus among critics seems to be that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t as good as the first one. I’m not so sure about that. The first movie was the oddball, weird kooky cousin of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and I did like it, but not as fondly as say, Thor or Ant-Man, or even Doctor Strange. Vol. 2 feels darker and more emotional than the first, though it still retains its quirkiness. If not for the underlying sinister tones of the film, I would have preferred it to the first. As it is, their pros and cons balance them out for me.
We have Kurt Russell’s Ego to thank for that. He is a better villain than Lee Pace’s Ronan in the first movie, because Ronan is your straightforward evil guy who wants to rule the galaxy, whereas Ego draws you in and appears to be a genuine guy wishing to make amends and be a proper father to Peter Quill — only for us to find out that he has the worst ulterior motives: copulating with millions of species to create offspring, and then killing them when they couldn’t help him achieve his aims of enslaving/cannibalising the galaxy. I got a chill seeing the bones of all of Ego’s children, due to that reveal scene being shot like a horror movie to achieve that very effect. Doesn’t help that the mannequins showing Ego’s story were creepy to begin with, before we are shown the disgusting images of him copulating with the other species. Nice guys who are revealed to be psychopaths are the most terrifying of all villains. (Unless they’re up against hideous ghosts or disfigured demons etc.)
It was also distressing to see the ravagers mutiny against Yondu, and those who remain loyal to him being executed, while the rest cheer their former crewmates’ deaths. The filmmakers tried to lighten it with the Taserface joke afterwards, but the image of a whole string of bodies frozen and floating in space is extremely disturbing for a family-friendly movie.
I remain terribly upset that Yondu died. :’-O In the first movie, I couldn’t tell whether Yondu was a good guy or not, because he behaved so mercenary and self-centredly, and didn’t seem to care about Peter except what he could do for him. I’m glad he is shown here to be Peter’s true “daddy”, and given a heroic death and beautiful send-off. Of course, I would rather he not have died at all.
(By the way, Kraglin — the mutineer who regrets his actions and helps Yondu escape — is played by Sean Gunn, who is director James Gunn’s brother. Also, Peter’s mother Meredith Quill is played by Laura Haddock, whom we just saw in Transformers: The Last Knight as the female lead Vivian. She’s married to Sam Claflin, who was Finnick in The Hunger Games series. As we all know, Jennifer Lawrence is in The Hunger Games too, and she just starred in Passengers with Chris Pratt. I just played Six Degrees of Separation! Or in this case, four.)
All the main characters (except Groot) show character growth in this sequel. Drax is funnier and better developed in this movie — the scenes between him and Mantis, with him being nice to her while trying not to gag at how “hideous” she is, are hilarious. Rocket was really annoying when he was blaming others for what he had done, until Yondu shows us that he is just being an asshole to hide his insecurities. Then it becomes funny because everyone is now in on the joke, and the rest of the Guardians assure him that they care about him anyway. Chris Pratt is great at tearing scenes. I loved seeing more to Nebula: that she actually wanted a sister, but Thanos’ cruelty and Gamora’s thoughtlessness made her who she was. The end-credits scene of teenage Groot was so funny! 😀 Who knew sentient trees went through puberty? Baby Groot was adorable, but let’s admit it: he was basically useless in the film. At least he didn’t screw up the detonation at the end! He’ll probably return to full-grown Groot the next movie, though it’ll be funny too if he goes through the next movie as a teenager.
I am surprised they got Michelle Yeoh (whom I mistook for Lady Gaga with black hair), but I am even more surprised they got Sylvester Stallone to be in the movie. Then again, Marvel is enjoying an unheard of successful streak at the box office, so it’s not hard to imagine everyone wanting a piece of their pie. (Except Chris Pine, who has so little interest in superheroes, besides the movie he was just in, that he didn’t know what is Infinity War. :’D )