Anyway, without further ado, I present to you, my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And as always...
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGHOUT
So when Vol. 2 was announced you can bet that fans were excited about it. And you can imagine my excitement when I discovered it had been released a lot sooner than I thought! So at the earliest opportunity I ran to my nearest cinema and purchased tickets to see it! And I was many things whilst watching this film – disappointed was NOT one of them!
We rejoin the Guardians a few years later, now heralded as heroes after defeating Ronan the Accuser (who had an infinity stone no less). Drax is still a badass (though now he’s prone to cracking terrible jokes and laughing louder than he should do), Gamora is also still kicking ass and drooling over Peter (though she can’t bring herself to admit it), Rocket is still a wise cracking Racoon (god I love him!) and Peter Quill is still Star-Lord – and still making his mixtapes! And then we have – BABY GROOT! And he is every bit as adorable as the trailers make him out to be. I guarantee he will be the most sought after toy this year – and that’s just from the adults!
Ayesha of the Sovereigns hire them to protect some batteries from a giant squid monster (who I thought was gonna be Shuma-Gorrath, but sadly it wasn’t), which Rocket then steals. The Sovereigns then proceed to hunt them down – hiring the Ravagers in the process. But then Yondu (who is quite honestly the most awesome character in the MCU) still has feelings for his “son” Quill, leading his crew to mutiny against him – and power changes to the vicious Taserface (and if you think his name is stupid, don’t worry – other characters do too!). But then Nebula is back to take revenge against her sister – and her father. Oh and through all this, Peter finds his real father – who turns out to be a Celestial named Ego.
Still with me? Good.
So the above might seem like it’s trying to fit too much into it’s two hour run-time, but thanks to clever writing and direction, you actually want to know MORE about the above. Not a single bit of story feels out of place or “tacked on”, and it actually adds to the action in many ways. Each tale is given equal run time, so it doesn’t feel like one story takes priority over another. And there is plenty of irreverent humour to go around here, making this film a laugh a minute. Even Drax’s over the top attempts at humour never get tiresome.
But there ARE some really dark moments as well. Some of which I wasn’t prepared for. When the Ravagers mutiny against Yondu, the ones still loyal to him are thrown out into the depths of space. That was pretty cruel! And they way they bully Baby Groot will make fans of him really angry. And that’s not including the REAL heartbreaker at the end. Oh don’t worry, I’ll get to that!
So all the cast return in their previous roles (including Howard the Duck, who appeared in a cameo at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy – you DID stick around for that, didn’t you?) and we also have a few new additions. Elizabeth Debicki plays the villainess Ayesha from the Sovereigns, and she’s pretty cool I guess – but doesn’t really stand out as the main villain. Sylvester Stallone (a surprise casting for me) appears as Stakar Ogord, AKA Starhawk – who was the guy that originally saved Yondu from slavery, but have expelled him and his crew for “breaking the code.” At first, his appearance seems little more than a cameo – but in actuality his role has a major impact on Yondu and plays a major part in his character development. Then we have Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, who is an empathetic alien that is a potential love interest to Drax and a pet to the big cheese – Ego, the Living Planet!
Which brings me to the main cruz of the story. Now I’m gonna be honest with you, I was NEVER a huge fan of Ego – in fact I found him one of the more gimmicky and goofy of Marvel villains (a living planet? Are you kidding me?) But thank God for Kurt Russell’s performance – as he turned what was essentially a laughable villain into a multi-layered, sympathetic – yet utterly despicable villain. Kurt Russell has so much nuance to his character, starting off as a doting, remorseful father that wants to make up for his time. And Peter wants to believe it. He’s been without parents for most of his life and had dreamed of having a father. And us, the audience want to believe that Peter has found a real father. But in true comic fashion, things quickly unfold.
See, Ego is a Celestial that has existed for millions of years, making himself a living planet. At first he said he found Peter’s mother and feel in love with every aspect of her, eventually giving birth to Peter. Apparently, Yondu was supposed to take Peter back to Ego after her death, but he kept him – because he was apparently small enough to squeeze into places. Turns out that there is MORE to this story than meets the eye. Ego had been spreading his seeds (not a euphemism!) across different worlds so that he could spread his influence (again, not a euphemism!) and grow himself (ok, maybe THAT was a euphemism). But he needed the power of two Celestials – of which Peter is one. However turns out that Peter wasn’t the only one – Ego had LOADS of children across the Universe, but when they turned out to not possess the power, he had them killed. Ego murdered children – his own! Plus, him terraforming other worlds would end up killing all on the planet, which makes Ego one of the biggest mass murderers in the MCU so far! And despite his so called “love” for Peter’s mother, he was the one that gave her the tumour that killed her, believing that she was a distraction from his ultimate goal. What. A. Douche!
But actually, I found that this made Ego a really well thought out villain. You know how Marvel get complaints that they don’t develop their villains as well as their heroes? Well not here. I felt that all these little bits helped to make Ego one of the most nuanced, yet repulsive villains in the MCU. I’m just gonna come out and say it – Ego is one of the best villains in the MCU! There I said it!
All this leads to an epic encounter where the Guardians must fight both Ego AND the Sovereigns. Even Nebula is on hand to help this time. And whilst we’re on that subject, we get a much deeper insight to the two sisters Gamora and Nebula. During a minor exposition scene, Nebula reveals that the cause of her hate for Gamora was because their father Thanos would often make them fight. When Nebula lost, she had parts of her body removed as punishment. But all she wanted was a sister. It was actually a lot deeper and sadder than Thor and Loki’s relationship (sorry, Loki. I still love you) and just goes to show how much of a dick Thanos is! In the end, the sisters do reconcile and Nebula promises to make Thanos pay.
Ok, if it feels like I’m waffling, it’s because I was putting this last bit off. I really don’t want to talk about this, bit, but I feel I have to.
In the final battle with Ego, we learn that Yondu wasn’t just responsible for finding Peter, but all the OTHER children that Ego birthed – which resulted in him being expelled by his peers. Learning that he was essentially leading children to their deaths (a crime even Yondu wasn’t prepared to live with) Yondu decided to take Peter in and look after him, becoming something of a father to him. Despite their differences, Peter discovers that Yondu WAS the father he always wanted, and Yondu always had his best interests at heart. And at the end, Yondu sacrifices himself to save Peter.
With the other Guardians already escaping the planet whilst Ego is destroyed, Peter is left to die. But Yondu (staying behind) picks Peter up and using a rocket pack, flies him into space. Unfortunately he only has one space suit, which he gives to Peter. He tells him that “Ego might have been his father, but he wasn’t his Daddy”. Quill watches as Yondu suffocates in the coldness of space.
No joke, I legit bawled my eyes out at this scene. It is quite possibly one of the saddest scenes in any Marvel film – made even more so by Peter’s anguished cries and weeps. Chris Pratt is a far more amazing actor than people give him credit for and this is his best performance by far.
The final scene is especially poignant, with the other Ravagers, having learned of Yondu’s sacrifice, return to give him a “Ravager Funeral”. All the while Cat Steven’s Father and Son plays. It’s a surprising sombre ending to an otherwise hilarious film and will leave all but the hardest of hearts weeping. But don’t worry, there is plenty of humour in the after credits!
After credits have become somewhat of a big thing in Marvel movies – and here you have about five! Whilst most of them are funny/silly moments, there are two of note here. Firstly, we see Stan Lee’s cameo as an astronaut, describing his experiences in the other films to the Watchers – which answers a fan theory that Stan Lee himself was a Watcher. The other one shows Ayesha, defeated by the Guardians, creating a new life form to fight them, which she names Adam. Fans of the comics will know that she is most likely reference to the Man-God himself; Adam Warlock! What part he will play in later Marvel films is anyone’s guess – but we’ll just have to see.
And of course, there are tons of easter eggs and references to the comics and other things for the eagle eyed viewers (including what I thought was a playback to Thor: The Dark World, but might even be a reference to Thor: Ragnarok). Some of which even in the end credits!
So overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a masterpiece – and it might even be my favourite MCU film so far! Yes, even more so than Avengers! For me, Guardians of the Galaxy represents everything great about the MCU. Colourful, yet believable characters, special effects that enhance and not detract from the story, tons of great humour – but also poignancy; and most of all, just absolute fun to watch! These are the stories that, whilst part of a greater storyline are fantastic stand alone films that offer a fun, thrill ride – and might even have a bit of nostalgia for those who love their music. I know we’re only halfway through the year (just about) but this is a strong contender for my film of the year!
It should come as no surprise that I loved this film and recommend anyone seeing it. So for that reason, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets a 5 out of I Am Groot!