If you’re looking for a repeat of everything you enjoyed about Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) only more, then you’re probably going to love Vol. 2. If you’re like me and you’ve reached your exit point on the Marvel fatigue scale, then you’re probably going to be underwhelmed with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Basically see this film if you want more of the same (it’s a funny, colourful space adventure), but save your money if you’re not super keen. I mean if you’re on a movie ration and you can only buy one ticket a month or something, don’t waste it on this movie.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does what most sequels of surprise hits do, it takes everything you loved about the first movie and doubles down on it. This works on one level because it gives the people what they want, and if done with care it can actually result in something awesome. But most of the time it’s just kinda like when someone tells the same joke over and over again because you laughed one time. This movie had more joke, more pop culture references, more Peter Quill, more dancing Groot, more music, it’s just more.
The first movie was a surprise hit, no one really expected it to be as good as it was so it’s faults - and it definitely had faults - were forgiven because it was fun and it felt fresh compared to all the dark gritty science fiction movies in recent times. Like we all knew it followed the basic Marvel formula, but that didn’t matter because it was colourful, funny, it had a rocking soundtrack, and I wasn’t completely sick of Marvel at that point. But it’s been 3 years, there are only so many times I can watch the same story without getting bored. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was just a bit of a chore.
This is getting a little mean, I know, most of this comes from my general disinterest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s a lot of enjoyable stuff in this movie. Like Baby Groot could have been so annoying but was genuinely adorable. One hundred percent stealing the show from his live action counterparts most of the time. And the character that best embodied the theme of family that tied the movie together. The Gamora and Nebula arch was a close second to Groot for the family vibes, but that storyline also kinda highlighted the holes in their characterisations. Still I’m a sucker for found families and troubled sisters so it definitely hit me in the feels.
Really the main problem with Vol. 2 - beyond the fact that it doesn’t offer anything new - is that the story is kind of a Peter Quill origin story, with a team-up storyline awkwardly stuffed into. Quill’s ‘who’s your daddy’ quest for family and belonging is pretty clear, and it feels like they’ve just tried to mould everyone else’s story so it fits with it. Rocket has this weird kinda friendship with one of Quill’s pseudo dads, Yondu, and it sort of works but it also obviously a clumsy attempt to connect two characters that really have no reason to connect.
Of course there’s the casual sexism that bleeds through all the Marvel movies. Mother’s in this movie are dead or forgotten. The women are reduced to caretaker, conscious type roles, there’s a bunch of jokes about calling a pretty girl ugly because that’s hilarious. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this movie is overtly misogynist or anything. It’s certainly not the worst Marvel movie on that count, but when I’m sitting in the cinema a little bored because I’m watching GOTG again except not as good I can’t help notice that casual sexism.
[I don’t know I’m just sick of straight white guys with daddy issues and Oh My Gosh me from 10 years ago is so shocked by that statement because boys with daddy issues are my one true love but there’s only so much a girl can take okay. I’m tired. I don’t want to be the feminist killjoy ruining your fun, so like if we could have some movies where I don’t have to do that it would grand thanks Hollywood. Sigh.]
Finally the soundtrack is going to be subjective. I’m going to sit here and type that I don’t think it’s as good as the first movie but that’s more personal taste than any legitimate criticism. I will say that I didn’t think it was as seamlessly integrated into the movie this time. Some of the diegetic musical cues felt a little forced but again that might have been because I was looking for it this time around. I can’t help that I’m a bitter old lady that’s just sick of the same old Marvel movies over and over again. Give me something new please!
Anyway despite my bitterness, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was enjoyable enough. It’s a good movie and I’m gonna be in the minority with my complaints for sure. It’s just not going to be the instant the first one was, and it’ll probably be forgotten in a couple of years. Still not a terrible way to spend an evening although it’s probably another nail in the coffin of my relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s hoping Taika Waititi can restore my faith with Thor: Ragnarok.