Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 [review]

You’re not friends.
No. We’re family.

(And suddenly, I wondered if I was watching another Fast & Furious movie!)

For your pleasure, feel free to listen to “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” while you read.

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Being a “Vol. 2”, everyone is comparing the latest GotG movie to the first one, the one that was a gamble, that was a show of Marvel Studios’ power over their audiences and their market share.

I really enjoyed watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It was super fun, even if the story and jokes were a bit alllllll over the place. But the humor at the core of the movie really held it all together. I dare you to not have fun watching. Vol. 2 knew what people liked from the first movie and brought a lot of it back, like:

  • Adorable baby Groot (so cute I cried a little bit and I am not ashamed)
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  • Awesome throwback soundtrack
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  • Drax being a weird alien who doesn’t understand things like societal norms
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  • Yondu and his bada** arrow
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Bonus: We get a Stan Lee cameo in this one!

I did really enjoy Guardians 2. There were so many different levels of jokes in this movie, and just the amount of humor packed into the movie made for a really entertaining ride. One minute, you’d be laughing really hard at a visual gag that even your kids could enjoy and crack up at. The next, you’re drying your eyes because this movie decided to touch on some pretty heavy themes of family.

(Also, Baby Groot is legitimately just SO cute and has such a cute little voice — that Vin Diesel does himself with very little processing! — and I cried on the inside during a scene where people are being really mean to him. That being said, his cuteness is what kept him alive to see that scene out, and I’m happy for that.)

The second scene, where we see the Guardians fighting a giant alien together, is a pretty good tone-setter for the rest of the film. We have the Guardians working together(ish) to fight a monster. We have a dancing Baby Groot. We see some great dynamics between the Guardians. We have a lot of action going on.

It’s worth mentioning as well that Kurt Russell was pretty great as Ego, and apparently his de-aging for the scenes in the 80s was mostly makeup and very minimal CG! What the heck!!

There are 5 sting scenes before, during, and after the credits, so stick around if you want to see them. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and be a little confused maybe, sure. More spoiler-y type comments after the trailer.

Let’s get it out of the way now: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is about a lot of things, but one of the things that will get to your heartstrings the most is its daddy issues. We explore Peter Quill and how he never knew his father, a theme that is introduced when he is asked about his genetic heritage by Ayesha, the leader of the Sovereign, who are genetically engineered to be perfect. Peter doesn’t know who his father is, but Ayesha suggests that he is more than merely human and is a very unique hybrid.

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As it turns out, Peter is the son of his lovely human mother and Ego, a Celestial. Ego is… literally a planet and something like a god. There is a clichéd moment where Peter gets to play catch with his dad with an energy ball he summons using his own Celestial powers. (Can anyone tell me if they placed such a strong value on playing catch with their dad? It’s a very persistent movie + TV trope but I don’t know how it applies in real life.)

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It is very unfortunate, then, that he learns Ego is trying to destroy the galaxy and also is responsible for his mother’s fatal brain tumor. And by the end of the movie, we understand why there was a scene showing how sad Yondu was to have been rejected by his fellow Ravagers for breaking the code and dealing in children:

Yondu was commissioned by Ego to fetch all of his offspring so that he could find someone who had his DNA and help power his plot to destroy the galaxy. But he stopped with Peter and raised Quill up himself.

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Yondu was the father that Peter never realized he had. And he realizes this as Yondu is sacrificing his own life to save him.

I was a little bit lukewarm on Yondu and his strangely emotional character arc in this movie. We have his scene with Sylvester Stallone (?!) where he seems really quite depressed to have lost his Ravager family. He is also depressed because his crew mutinies against him for saving Peter time and time again. There is a very high-emotion scene where he is yelling at Rocket because he sees so much of himself in Rocket: reckless because they think they have no one to lose, they were thrown out into the world without anyone caring for them or anyone teaching them what love looked like. I was so confused by this deep character development for Yondu, and a bit blindsided when he died having accepted his father figure role in Peter’s life. It was pretty sad, and I dare you to not tear up when they start playing “Father and Son” during his funeral scene at the end. (Side note: This is also where you will spot Michelle Yeoh, who I was looking for the entire movie!)

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I’d also like to take some time to talk about Gamora and Nebula. Does GotG 2 pass the Bechdel test? Yes it does, Gamora and Nebula do, indeed, talk about things other than a man/men. But I would say that the Gamora-Nebula dynamic takes it to a different extreme. They fight and fight and fight and fight and it is so focused that very little affects their relationship. If you didn’t watch the first movie or don’t remember much of it, their fighting seems to happen in a vacuum, unaffected by anything else happening in the story. This weakens what is supposed to be the resolution to their fighting near the end, and I don’t feel any warm fuzzy sister feelings towards them because it seemed like one of those fights that you don’t remember why it started but you do know that you will be the one to finish it? Their characters become very one-dimensional in this regard: Nebula just hates Gamora (and Thanos) and Gamora hates Nebula (and is dealing with her bumbling team). This was pretty disappointing, as both are very promising female characters in a very male-dominated MCU and Guardians franchise.

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Anyway, I’m still excited for Volume 3 and for the Guardians to appear in Infinity War. At the end of the day, this was one of the slightly more compelling villains and storylines and I am still an MCU fangirl.

(I also realized that I have Gamora hair right now and never took advantage of that for cosplay? We’ll see if I can remedy that!)

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