The failure of Marvel Studios is like World War 3: everyone is waiting for it to happen, but it just never seems to happen. So “Disney’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2™” just released and it is as splendid as you’d think it would be. The reason Marvel delivers because it treats the films as films, first and foremost, and comic book properties second. It’s got what we, as an audience, have come to expect from these crazy critters, as well as a story that is full of heart, humor and some good twists and turns. It takes what works and gives the audience that and more.
At this point I am convinced that Disney purchased Marvel because Marvel delivers hits like Disney does, except in half the time, because live action is just easier than animation. Kevin Feige has a plan, and the main component of that plan is that the movies, in this ever expanding balloon, have to be good. Whether or not everyone likes them all is a matter of opinion, but you can’t deny the competency of the film making. Whilst some films are much tighter than others, the overall caliber of the movies is above average. The movies resonate well with the modern audience because they are fun. I don’t mean fun in a stupid way, like “leave your brain at the door here’s some ‘splosions!”, but in a genuine, literal way. I pay my (now hefty) ticket price and I am yet to feel dissatisfied from the properties with the Marvel Studios banner, and I always look forward to the next one.
If I were to compare this to any of the other Marvel films and their respective sequels, I would have to compare the 2 Guardians films to the first 2 Iron Man films. Now, stay with me, I believe Iron Man 2 to be the superior film. I have watched all the Marvel films multiple times, and I truly believe Iron Man 2 only fails in the confrontation with whiplash, but remember how anti climactic Iron Man 1 was? Guardians was the origin story that introduced us to this universe and the characters in it, and Guardians 2 is about how those characters have to live in this world with the roles bestowed upon them by their actions in the previous film. Guardians 1 works so well because of the characters, and Guardians 2 works because we get more of that. The key word for this movie is MORE. It’s not as overindulgent as Avengers: AoA, and really gets the portions right.
On to the good stuff: performances, set pieces, visuals, color palette, humor, script and music. While my favorite character is the first film was Rocket, Drax is the one that steals the show. Bautista really gets to shine. I was expecting the cliché “turn the characters up to 10!!!!”, but only Drax was affected by this, and rightfully so. Rocket isn’t inferior, Drax is just so good. Rocket is, perhaps, the most complex character in the whole story, and that says a lot because the characters have a lot going on. Guardians 2 has themes of identity, purpose, loneliness, friendship and family. I am a big proponent of family, and it always brings a smile to my face when I see it tastefully done, and this was a filet mignon. This movie was so far removed from the all too well known Marvel formula, that it could have existed completely on it’s own, which it basically does.
It may seem like I’m gushing over this movie, but that’s only because I am. It had a great script and the only problem was that I laughed so frequently that I know that I missed a good fraction of the jokes. Kurt Russell calls Rocket a name that I’m still laughing about. The only thing that isn’t mind blowing is the action scenes aren’t anything we haven’t seen before, but think about the light saber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan; it’s not flawless choreography (or good) but what matters is the emotional investment you have in the characters. Think of it less a big budget action blockbuster, and more of a comedic space opera, complete with a beautiful spectrum of all the colors and a great mix tape to accompany you.
Marvel keeps bringing the hits and it does so in an accessible way that always feels cathartic. We probably aren’t going to get Citizen Kane from this studio anytime soon, but we regularly get well told stories with performances to write home about, scripts that keep you invested in said stories and characters, with unparalleled visuals. It has the most important quality of any movie, which is that it is never boring and it’s hard to believe that it is well over 2 hours.
I don’t give ratings, but I, instead, recommend it to the fans of sci-fi, fantasy, action, popcorn crowds, families, teenagers, and people that don’t hate life and themselves. If you do hate life and yourself, give it a watch, anyway and it might cheer you up. 2 decades ago, I purchased Tango and Cash on home video, purely, because it had both Kurt Russell and Sly Stallone in it, and I’m glad I can finally own a movie featuring both of them that doesn’t suck!