GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2: A Non-Spoiler Review

[images: Disney/Marvel]

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
Written & Directed by James Gunn
Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures
136 minutes, rated PG-13

Full disclosure, I’m a huge Guardians of the Galaxy fan.  Rocket Raccoon is my favorite super hero of all time (cute, fuzzy, and the greatest tactical mind in the galaxy; what’s not to love?).  Now that that bit of information is out of the way, on to the review.

Overall, I felt that the movie rolled incredibly well.  There were no points in which I felt the movie dragged or lingered longer than was invited, nor did it feel rushed or unfinished.  There are very few movies that feel that satisfying as far as running time goes.  And on that feeling of satisfaction, there are very few loose ends that aren’t dealt with.  It’s a very good level of writing to get so… full circle in the course of a single film.

Visually, the film is stunning.  From the grand vistas to the close quarter fights, the explosions, the punches, everything felt like it had a place in the universe.  Nothing was “uncanny” without good reason or felt like it lacked a purpose.  You can tell that a great deal of thought went into every single shot and movement.

There were plenty of fantastic cameos as well.  Some were surprising, some were great throwbacks, and the ones that were expected were great takes.  This also can be said about the music selection.  There were some surprising tracks, some expected tracks, and all of it was great and well fitting for the film.  As a side note, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen anybody make a working build of Star Lord’s stereo system, yet.

Moving on to camera movement, this film rolls out a new filming mechanic for filming action shots.  The main action happens entirely in the background while the foreground is occupied by some moving visual focus.  It is absolutely ingenious.  Your attention is split, dodging back and forth between the choreography in the background and the comedy, and other focuses, in the foreground.  They don’t overuse this technique, either.  It is used as an absolute and perfect rejection of the cheap, corner cutting, and frankly bad, “shaky cam” so many action flicks seem to flock to (Why choreograph action scenes if you are just going to jiggle the camera so hard no one can see the acting?).

The one gem that really shines brighter than any other singular thing in the new Guardians film is the character interaction and character building.  Every one of the main cast, and some of the supporting roles, had their great moments and displayed their strength and flaws in important and meaningful ways.

Also worth note was that the film has got more of the same sense of comedy that made the last one so fresh.  Good timing, well-crafted set ups, and pretty damn good delivered punch lines create rolling laughter throughout the audience.  Fun times had by all.  It’s kind of refreshing among the more serious Star Wars, Aliens, Star Trek, and other sci-fi space films that usually knock about the spring and summer months.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does have some shortcomings.  A personal note: there are characters that I really wanted to be in the film weren’t featured at all (though there were some great cameos from one or two of them).  I miss a bunch of great content from the comics that the films seem to skirt and float away from.   It’s not a show stopper nor does it make or break the film.  I just really like a few characters from the comics that I’d LOVE to see put into a movie… Maybe “the brigade” will make it in Vol. 3, comrades?

One of the teaser shorts at the end killed my hopes that Marvel’s Infinity War will have a better-written ending than what is contained inside the comic books.  The ham-fisted “oops, everything’s fixed” Dues ex Machina from the comics is revealed!  I still have hopes for the Marvel films’ Infinity War story.  But I’m also starting to doubt their overall series ending because of one particular teaser short.

The film works hard to slowly expand the sphere of the Guardians’ personal interconnections.  We get more about who they are in relation to everything and everyone else.  I can’t wait to see how that expands even further in the next film.  It gets over hurdles that have been looming over the first film, and now that we are officially past those hurdles in the second film, I don’t know how they will move on from here in the third film.

Another note on music, what songs are in the film are fantastic.  Still, each individual track is not nearly as meaningful, or as front and center, as they were in the previous film.   It also felt that the playlist was shorter than the last film.  Still, none of these things  are necessarily bad things.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is the next must see Marvel film, hands down.  It’s light and fluffy just like the first one.  The jokes are hard hitting and the action is well packed.  I really think it fits that strange comedy space action space that most science fiction doesn’t really pursue.  I was absorbed within the first 20min, and stayed completely engrossed throughout the film’s entirety.

Don’t get spaced out the airlock, go see this film.

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