When the first Guardians of the Galaxy film was released I found myself fairly underwhelmed. I enjoyed the film quite a bit, but I could not bear to praise it as much as other people. The villain is forgettable, the acting is uninspired, and the plot itself is fairly generic. I enjoyed the film so much because of its memorable characters, witty writing, and electric soundtrack. Going into the sequel I had hoped for improvements all around, but only a few aspects improved over the first installment.
Are we really saving the galaxy, again?
This film excels at entertaining its audience. From the opening credits onward my eyes were glued to the screen. There is so much energy in almost every single scene. Everything feels like it had a purpose to not only move the plot forward, but develop the film’s characters. Speaking of which, the characters are once again a major highlight in the film. For me, the standouts are: Gamora, Peter, Yondu. These three characters really came into their own this time around. For both Peter and Gamora they inhabited more of a leadership role. Even though Peter still has his quips, the two of them know when to buckle down and be serious. As far as their own relationship, I like how the film is poking fun at the “will they, won’t they?” trope. It made for some truly funny moments, as well as some heartwarming ones. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film I was not Yondu’s biggest fan. He was fun when he was on screen, but I never got a full sense of who he was.
This film gives Yondu a great arc, and fleshes his character enough where he became one of my favorites. The rest of the characters are all fairly good too, but these were the ones that really stood out to me. Instead of this sequel being plot heavy, James Gunn knew that his greatest strength (save for humor) lied with his characters. This is why the film is character driven, rather than plot driven like the first one. Everything these characters do pushes the narrative forward while also allowing us to view them in new ways.
I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!
The humor this time around is just as strong as the first film. There are so many laugh out loud moments, but sometimes the humor can be a bit overwhelming. A couple of scenes have some dramatic moments that are quickly undone by a joke waiting around the corner. Without spoiling it, Drax has a great scene where he opens up ever so slightly. Up until that point in the film Drax has solely been used for comedy, but now he was given an opportunity for some more depth. Shortly after he keeps joking around like he used to throughout the entire film. I understand that this is the film’s tone, but it would be nice if some of the more serious moments remained serious. I mentioned how in the first film one of my complaints was the acting, this time around I thought the acting had improved quite a bit.
The only actor that I truly think is only “okay” is Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Starlord. Most of the time he delivers his lines with fantastic energy, but there were a few lines where his delivery was unusually wooden. Which leads me to my final point: the film itself is a bit wooden. Nothing truly unexpected happens and the last third of the film feels a bit jumbled. I like how the film approaches its characters and even the villains, but I do not believe it was properly executed. Too many questions are raised towards the end of the film which undercut a lot of what Gunn and company were trying to do with the plot of the film (This is mostly in reference to the film’s villain).
Despite thinking that the first Guardians of the Galaxy film is simply “Good”, I do believe this one is a step down from the first. Simply put, it is not as tight as the first one. It was trying to do too many things which ultimately made it far more jumbled. I applaud it for trying to do something different, but I hope the third installment pays more attention to the writing and less to the soundtrack (which is stellar). Nonetheless, this is an incredibly enjoyable film that even gets better on a second viewing.