Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Reviewed by: Michelle Germann
FA Scorecard: A
You wouldn’t know it to look at me today, but there was a time I considered myself an expert in a fair portion of the Marvel Universe. I own the X-Men back issues to support my claim, and my brother still tries to keep me from admitting I bought all of the issues in the Spider-Man: The Clone Saga story. My time reading Marvel books ended long before books like Guardians of the Galaxy made a reappearance. I consider this important because “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” was Marvel’s first film with a large percentage of characters that I didn’t for the better part know. Rocket, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Yondu Udonta all stood before me as oddities I learned more about using Wikipedia. I actually argued against the film for months by stating loudly to anyone who’d listen “he’s a raccoon that can talk!” Skeptical is a polite term we could use to explain my initial feelings on the film from James Gunn. This a winding way of explaining I didn’t expect a lot from the movie, and I was really surprised when it delivered a fantastic adventure. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” became the film I’d wanted and hadn’t realized I desperately missed since the first time I saw Richard Donner’s “Superman” on the big screen. The feeling distilled to its essence should just be called “heroes make me happy, even if they are just regular people who want to be loved.” James Gunn reminded me that there is still room for adventure that isn’t all about the torture of the human spirit. I told you, I was surprised. I wanted “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” to capture lightning in a bottle twice, but I went in exhausted by the flights and tights genre because I hold out hope that someone will realize my first love can do more than punch and scowl. I’m happy to say I was startled to discover that the film is better than its predecessor and the cure for the much-discussed superhero fatigue.
Where “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” landed its emotional punch with a goodbye left unsaid and the impact it had on Peter for his entire life, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is all about what happens when you allow one emotional wound to heal. It’s about knowing that there’s someone who should care for you and protect you, but finding that the “Hoff” isn’t all that he’s cracked up to be. The movie is also about pulling at the thread of an unexplained adversarial relationship, only to discover that you had a hand in making it terrible in the first place. Gunn even allows one of his characters to broach long-held grief in a beautiful aside, with the reticence that only time will permit. Not one of the mentioned moments is particularly comfortable but, when it matters, the heroes never run from each other or attempt to deflect with a quip. While the heart of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is its willingness to hold still while we explore the damage, it should be noted that it’s filled beginning to end with rollicking humor that is never intentionally unkind when it’s aimed by the adopted members of the Quill family at the adopted members of Quill family. The interaction between family members makes it clear that they love each other, and their love makes them work better as a team.
Had the movie been made by any studio other than Marvel Studios, I’m confident “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” would have failed in its attempt to be a movie about family that just happens to be filled with insane CGI. Instead, we have a film where the tough stuff is confronted and very different people help raise a sentient baby tree. Here’s to being surprised!