REVIEW & THOUGHTS: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

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OK, OK, I saw it last night and I immediately have to pen my thoughts.  Let me just say, I liked the film a lot.  I didn’t like it as much as the first one (which I absolutely loved with every fiber of my being) but this one was still good on its own.  There are a few things I want to write about, though, so here we go.

WARNING: May contain slight spoilers.  And it might be kinda long.  Read at your own risk.

Like I said before, I loved Guardians of the Galaxy.  When I went into the theater back in 2014 I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  I had never really heard of these “bunch of a-holes” and, as such, had no prior knowledge about this world and its presence in the Marvel Universe.  But, hey, I’m a fan of Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec, yo!), Zoe Saldana (Lt. Uhura though), Lee Pace (my favorite snobby Elven King, yaas), and Karen Gillan (my girl Amy Pond!) so I wanted to see it — especially since Pace and Gillan, who are normally on the good guys squad, were the baddies this time ’round.  Within two minutes of Peter Quill’s introduction as an adult and those magical, rhythmic beats of  Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” he danced to, I was instantly hooked on a feeling.  (Heh, you guys see what I did there? I’m sorry I won’t do it again.)  It had everything I personally enjoy in a superhero movie — action, humor, snappy dialogue, a group of misfits proving people wrong, and awesome music.

So I was so looking forward to seeing the sequel.  I was excited to see Kurt Russell as Ego, Peter’s biological father, and finally know why he left Peter and his mother behind on Earth.  We’d find out why Yondu picked up Peter from Earth and kept him as part of the crew.  Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, was a character I was eager to know about as well as her relationship to Ego.  But I was most excited to see Baby Groot in action — you’d be lying if you said you didn’t fall in love with that precious tree alien and were tickled by Baby Groot’s dance sequence at the end of the first film.  I’ll give you one spoiler right now: he still won’t dance in front of Drax.

Now, I will admit for me, the sequel is not as funny as the first film and it was kind of disappointing.  I found myself chuckling a few times during the film but not as often as I did during the first.  In fact, most of the audience in my theater either didn’t find some of the scenes funny or they simply weren’t paying attention closely.  Some of the audience laughed at particularly humorous moments but those were rare.  There was one scene I found a bit funny; during the climatic battle, when Mantis is trying to keep Ego at bay she is struck by a large boulder to the head, Drax says, rather calmly, “Mantis, watch out,” after she is hit and is out cold.  And not one person laughed; not even a chuckle.  I thought it was pretty silly but apparently no one else did (or they didn’t catch it, I mean a lot of things were happening at that point).  I don’t know, maybe the audience I was with were a bunch of duds or, since it was a Thursday night, they had a long day of work and had no energy to laugh.  So, in my opinion, it had funny moments but not as many as the first film.

There were plenty of cute moments by way of Baby Groot.  Yes, I agree with everyone else who said that Baby Groot was the highlight of the film.  He’s very childlike — dancing to “Mr. Blue Sky” while the rest of the team battles a monster and eating candy while the team’s ship is crash landing (without his seatbelt on, by the way) — and everyone on the team parents him.  Despite his size and innocent nature, Baby Groot is feisty.  He beats up lizards, tries to pick fights with Drax, and unleashes hell on some of Yondu’s crew (which they totally deserved) even going so far as to cut off one member’s big toe.  To be fair, though, the big toe thing was sort of an accident.  Regardless, Baby Groot is still learning everything all over again and being extremely adorable while doing so.  He was just as heroic as he was in the first film and remained an integral part of the team.

I really, really loved and appreciated the character development that was shown for Rocket, Yondu, and Nebula.

I was totally digging the bond forming between Rocket and Yondu.  Rocket was being a pain in the ass with trying to distance himself from the rest of the team.  I understand Rocket’s hesitation to actually become part of a team, a family essentially.  He didn’t ask to be made, he doesn’t belong anywhere really, and his only companion that he is comfortable with is Groot (and he has a softer side when it comes to Groot).  It took a conversation with Yondu to finally realize that he doesn’t have to be alone and he doesn’t have to push people away from him.  Despite Rocket’s tough exterior, he does have a heart and he does care for Peter (even if he did call Rocket “trash panda”), Gamora, Drax, and, especially, Groot.

In the first film, I didn’t really give much thought to Yondu.  I neither liked him nor disliked him.  To me, Yondu was just … there.  He had a vital role in the first film but, for some reason, I just didn’t care.  This time around, Yondu made such an impression on me.  There was a hidden father figure that I didn’t immediately catch on to but when I did, boy oh boy, did I become emotional.  I first started to see when Yondu was paired with Rocket and giving him some life advice in his very Yondu way.  It just escalated from there for me.  Like the unfortunate named Taserface, I kept wondering why Yondu kept protecting Peter even after everything they had been through.  Deep down, I thought he may have come to care for Peter.  I shooed the thought away because of Yondu’s gruff personality and his utter contempt he seemed to have in regards to Peter.  With the revelation of Ego’s plans and Yondu’s role in it, it completely changed the way I view Yondu’s character.  I was so happy to be proven wrong and it made Yondu’s sacrifice in the film all the more bittersweet.

But the one thing I desperately wanted to see in this sequel, more than anything else, was the relationship between Nebula and Gamora go beyond the tense rivalry between them.  And I got my wish.  I love the structure of the Nebula character — she’s snarky, she’s evil, she’s downright psychotic.  But there’s a damn reason for it!  And that reason, as we all know, is freakin’ Thanos.  No one has the kind of daddy issues that Nebula has and it still consumes her throughout the film (and, most likely, through Avengers: Infinity War).  The filmmakers did a fantastic job bringing up Nebula’s issues and have her slowly come to an alliance with Gamora and the other Guardians.  My favorite Nebula moment in the film was after she and Gamora were done beating the crap out of each other on Ego’s planet, she confessed to Gamora that during their childhood all she wanted was a sister.  She longed for that bond of sisterhood with Gamora because she knew Gamora was all she had and the only other person she could relate to.  They were both trapped under Thanos’ thumb, both forced to fight each other in order to survive, and both suffered because of him.  Gamora, meanwhile, was thinking of her survival during that time and did all she could to achieve it even if that meant hurting Nebula in the process.  Of course, their sisterly bond won’t be easy but it was so great that the filmmakers began to develop it now rather than later.  That hug and development between Nebula and Gamora was all I ever wanted and everything I got.  I hope as the MCU expands the filmmakers continue to explore Nebula and Gamora, both individually and as sisters.

The only thing that I really didn’t care for was the Peter/Gamora relationship.  I knew it was inevitable to have this romance emerge — that whole ‘the-only-girl-on-the-team-falls-for-the-hero-and-vice-versa’ thing.  It still didn’t mean I was looking forward to it.  I feel like there is chemistry between Peter and Gamora but I’m not quite sure I would call it romantic.  I don’t know, maybe I’ll come around to it eventually.  But I will say this: I’d sooner take a Peter/Gamora romance over the Bruce/Natasha one (*shudders*) any day.

Overall, I did enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  It was a fun movie with cool action sequences, great music, and a whole lotta Baby Groot to boot.  If you have the time and don’t have really high expectations, I’d recommend seeing it.

One last thing: where can I get a Baby Groot?  I want to get a whole bunch of them, plant them, and raise them as my children.

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