Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★★


I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol . 2 all by myself today. There were supposed to be other people with me but they couldn't make it and I wanted to see it so bad I couldn't wait until another day, so I went alone. This is important because on the seat next to mine sat a little kid, no more than 8 years old I'd say. I'll come back to this story later, though.

Let's go back a little to 2014 where the nothing-less-than-amazing James Gunn released the least-expected-to-be-good MCU movie ever, Guardians of the Galaxy, which I obviously love. But now Mr. Gunn had a little problem. He wasn't making a movie about very little known characters that almost nobody had any high expectations about. No, now he was following up his amazing achievement with the first one. Now he has fans that expect the best, now he has a great hype to beat. Now he has to outdo himself. How could he ever overcome such hard task?

Well, I don't know how exactly he did it... But, well... He did it.
Vol. 2 is a great step forward and an amazing movie on its own! My main issue with this movie going in was the fear of it just being a repetition of the first movie only bigger, like so many others sequels usually do. Thankfully, Gunn understands that he can't do that and what he delivers here is a step up on every aspect. James Gunn wisely sets up what you should expect from the movie from the very first action scene. where he chose to follow Baby Groot dancing around the mayhem instead of focusing on the battle. Right there you get it. This is not about just action, this is about the characters. Or, even better, about people.

Gunn's script is beyond worth of praise on this part. Highly benefited by how the first movie developed each and every one of the Guardians, we already go in loving most of the (or all of them). And this is where the greatest strength of this movie lies. Separated by the apparition of Ego (Kurt Russell, amazing as always), we get to follow Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) on their own personal adventures and challenges that make them learn and understand a little bit more about themselves and their deeper feelings. Resulting on a very cohesive story of a troubled family coming together in the end and understanding how important they are for one another.

By the way, the main theme on the movie is so well explored that you can't help yourself but feel empathy and a great deal of care and even love for all of them. Even Yondu (Michael Rooker), Mantis (Pom Klementieff ) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Gunn found a way of exploring their pasts, which resulted on their personalities and struggles now, without having to surrender himself to the quickest and most irritating way some writers do: expository dialogues. No. We get to know and understand these characters by their actions and reactions to what is going on around them, and they're always growing and learning, so that by the end of the third act, we can understand and root for them. And not only them but we also get why the villain is doing what he's doing and what he wants from it because the villain's development and story arc are very well crafted and connected to the main story.

Now I can't say much else about the villain because I don't wanna spoil anything from this so damn well crafted script Gunn put together, so I'll move on to the technical aspects of he movie. First of all, visually, it is stunning. The cinematography is, no pun intended, out of this world. An explosion of colors, contrasts, sparks and lights that you can't even believe what you're seeing. The movie is simply beautiful not only because of the lighting and CGI but mostly because of the makeup, costume design and production design. Oh boy, how can I put in words how incredibly mesmerizing is Ego's planet here?! Also, the editting never falters, which is very difficult when you have as many characters as this movie does, specially when they're all apart. We jump from one another never losing focus or interest on the bigger Picture nor their personal journeys. They all have their moment to shine and their interaction and development as a group, or should I say as family are impeccable. I particularly felt a great connection with Rocket's and Yondu's sidestory here and how they came together as friends by discovering how equal they are deep down. It's actually pretty impressive how much Gunn gave the characters in just one movie without making it feel rushed, messy or convoluted, exploring even more the ones we already knew but also giving space to others he didn't have much time to on the first movie like Yondu and Nebula, and some of the merit here has to go to the brilliant editting process.

And of course, there's no way I'm not gonna dedicate a paragraph to the soundtrack, the Awesome Mix Vol. 2. Not only it has some of my favorite songs ever like The Chain and Surrender (seriously, my heart came out of my throat when Surrender started playing) but Gunn uses all of them in such a perfect way, matching the scenes in which he chooses to play them and giving such deeper meaning to the lyrics and to the characters in the process. They all fit flawlessly with the movie 100% of the time and I assure you all I'll never listen to the great The Chain, by Fleetwood Mac, the same way ever again (and I will admit I teared up a little the first time it started playing).

One of the biggest problem I have had with some Marvel movies in the past is how they used comedy. Yes, I do think these movies need to be funny and fun to watch, but sometimes they just didn't get it quite right, breaking some of the tension, the drama and the sense of danger or consequence to give space to a joke. Gladly, Vol. 2 does not have this problem. Yes, it is funny, in fact it might just be the funniest movie on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the difference is that Gunn understands when he needs to be funny and when he needs to make us feel the weight of a situtaion. Even when we get an emotional scene from Nebula and it's immedietaly followed by a joke by Kraglin (Sean Gunn), the emotional weight of what we just heard from her is not destroyed and the joke fits the scene without compromising anything. But I do have some issues with the movie, I have to be honest, mainly concerning The Sovereign. They appear a couple of times in the movie and they do have a point in the end, their presence and intentions are clear and very true to the comic book canon, but they did feel a little bit thrown in the movie just to set up the next film (and yes, as a comic book fan, I cheered a lot with how the movie wraps up Ayesha's (Elizabeth Debicki ) importance in the movie), but even here I can't dismiss the fact that they did further the plot along by bringing Yondu (my favorite character) to the main story, so I can't complain much about them.

Having as the main point the theme of parenthood, either by Ego with Quill, or Yondu and Quill, or Yondu and Rocket, or Stakar (the great Sylvester Stallone) and Yondu on a short but great and important scene, or Drax and Mantis, or Gamora and Nebula and Thanos, or the whole group and baby Groot, and mixing with friendship and loyalty, like Kraglin's towards Yondu and his friends, the last act is as amazing and exhilaratingly awesome as it is deeply moving and emotional, never losing the sense of humor and never letting this humor break the tone or the sense of urgency. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is an amazing ride from beginning to end and it is, at least in my book, the best Marvel movie made so far.

Now, why did I start this review talking about the little kid who sat next to me? Because by the end of the movie, in the middle of the action packed epic finale (and also in some scenes shortly after it) I noticed this little dude wiping tears from behind his 3D glasses. And why is this a big deal? Because even with the great amount of comedy, cute characters like Rocket and Groot and extraordinary mindblowing action stunts, this kid could look beyond all of this and see the importance of family and friendship here. This movie taught him a lesson about these things and their importance and meaning in our lives. And this was not a Cannes Palm d'Or winner or Oscar winner, this was a Hollywood "generic" blockbuster (as some label it). This is a film that touched this little kid very deeply just like George Lucas did in the 70's, or Peter Jackson did in the early 2000's, or Sam Raimi did to me personally with Spider-Man 2 when I was 8. This little kid will never forget this movie and how it helped to shape him growing up. This is what art is all about. This is why it is important. This is how greatly Gunn wrote and directed this movie.


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