Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell
Run Time: 136 mins
‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is the hotly anticipated sequel to the surprise hit that was 2014’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. James Gunn returns in the director’s chair and as an individual, really is at the forefront of these films, defying expectations from people who were initially critical of this concept. Gunn’s first installment generally received very positive reviews and is one of my favourite entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. The same cast return and Gunn has also recruited a couple of new names into this universe perhaps most impressively Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, the latter of whom I am a big fan of. Gunn is a lot more involved in this film, solely taking credit for the script which he co-wrote with Nicole Perlman last time. The intial trailers for this film have looked promising and Gunn doesn’t seem to have made a straight rehash of the first film, instead looking to take it in a refreshing direction. Does Gunn manage to strike gold twice?
‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is unevenly paced and overstuffed but the amount of heart it has allows it to just about be successful. Gunn hasn’t made your typical sequel but the story he chooses to tell is all over the place and at times, incoherent. The film retains much of the heart the first film had and this is what allows the film to work better than a film such as ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ or ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ which were lunk-headed, equally overstuffed and had zero heart. Gunn manages to further expand the mythology of this sub-universe of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Guardians of the Galaxy are very much an important and established strand of this behemoth. I just wish the film was better and although the film has recieved positive reviews generally, many people are either very positive or negative. It is only because of the characters and the amount of attention invested in them that I can just about push this film into a 3-star rating.
The cast are as expected, very good and there are a lot of surprises that Gunn has had up his sleeve with regards to them. The main cast – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel all fare well with perhaps Cooper receiving the most development in his character. Michael Rooker’s Yondu is surprisingly the standout of the entire film and I really felt for his character as the film progressed with his story arc. Sean Gunn is also surprisingly strong in this film as well as Yondu’s first mate, Kraglin. Kurt Russell doesn’t do much to advance his career with this film and he isn’t as nuanced as he has been in a couple of his recent projects but he’s decent enough. Karen Gillan and Elizabeth Debicki are perhaps the weakest links and aren’t given all that much to do.
I admire Gunn for his ambition to take the series in a different direction even if, in my opinion, the film didn’t really gel with me. Unfortunately, it follows recent comic-book trends of being overlong, overstuffed and shockingly at times, boring. The film already has an intimidating run time of 136 minutes but I could easily have cut the film down to just below the 2 hour mark by removing a plot thread that didn’t bare that much importance in the film. The pacing is all over the place and the film hasn’t really been put together in a coherent manner with some of the changes in scene feeling really choppy. I’ve complained in the past of the final battles being boring and contrived and I had a big problem with this film’s climax too, perhaps the weakest part of the film. It is only because the film manages to redeem itself after this battle that I didn’t come out of the film annoyed.
Music plays a big part in these films with Gunn assembling a soundtrack full of memorable pop hits, just as he did with the first film. It’s refreshing to see Gunn not go for the most obvious hits but I think music is rather overplayed in this film. As for Tyler Bates’ score, it is unfortunately not memorable in the slightest and very uninspired. Henry Braham’s cinematography is very colourful and vibrant – the film has a distinctive colour palette compared to the first film.
Overall, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’ is decent in its own right but fails to reach the heights of the first film. It is overstuffed and clumsily paced but the film’s heart makes the film worthwhile enough. It puts this strand of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in an interesting position for the future and it’ll be interesting to see how these characters mesh with others in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. It is one of the lesser entries in the franchise thus far but in its own right, it’s still fun enough. However for a comic-book film, you can do a lot better than this year with ‘Logan‘ and ‘Wonder Woman‘.