We’re taking a break from In a Galaxy Far Far Away to add another entry to Marvel By Numbers! This year, we’re getting three MCU entries, so it’s gonna be a good one.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Overview: Our favorite band of bizarre misfits are back, making a name for themselves in the galaxy, when they meet up with someone who has clues to who Peter Quill’s father might be. Also, there’s a really angry sovereign who’s out to destroy the Guardians for stealing something of immense value.
Note: I scheduled this for a few weeks after the film’s release to avoid spoilers, but even so, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, beware that there are spoilers ahoy!
The comedy is top-notch, a good mix of clever and dumb-but-amusing. Everyone has whip-sharp comedic timing, and the audience in the theater was so tickled that their laughter often obscured follow up gags to especially effective jokes, so that is definitely a plus.
I took some points off because the script overall is VERY cliche. The first GotG had a similar problem, but in this one, a lot of the big impactful moments later on are pretty easy to spot.
Now that’s not to say that people weren’t tearing up in those final scenes, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see them coming a mile away.
I don’t think it affected my enjoyment of the film, but don’t go in expecting tons of surprises.
As always, it looks great. The character design is wacky and the soundtrack is fantastic. The human characters in this one all seem so offbeat that they could easily be taken for aliens if they were dropped off on Earth.
I also have to heap MOUNTAINS of praise onto Weta for their design of Baby Groot. I was a bit worried that, because they were doing the digital animation instead of Industrial Light and Magic (who have their hands full with Star Wars right now) that the overall look would feel too different, but they do a great job of capturing the heartwarming amazingness of Groot in wee form. Groot is so cute it almost hurts.
And there are a few scenes where Groot gets sad and you just want to burst into tears and hug him because he’s just so precious and innocent.
I also love the design of Mantis. She wasn’t an alien in the comics, but her design is marvelous nonetheless.
My only disappointment was the design of Ego’s planet. It’s pretty, but in a digital matte painting sort of way. We don’t get a lot of characters interacting with the environment. It’s always these beautiful backdrops. I guess it would have distracted from the story, but it would have been nice to have more scenes outside Ego’s compound.
The Villain: 7/10
I guess there’s two villains, but the Sovereign Ayesha, though amusing, feels too silly to be taken for a real threat. Great character design, though. And I ADORED Elizabeth Debicki in The Man from U.N.C.L.E so it was awesome to see her in an over-the-top villain role again.
The other villain, Ego, fell a bit flat for me. I LOVE Kurt Russell, and it was awesome to see him de-aged into his 80’s persona again (Hollywood’s de-aging technology has really made scary leaps and bounds since the days of X-Men The Last Stand and Tron: Legacy) but he’s never really trustworthy.
I don’t know if we’re supposed to get drawn into his con as Peter is, but I think it would have been more effective if the fact that he was evil and untrustworthy wasn’t made so overwhelmingly obvious from the get go.
And in the final confrontation, there’s never a huge sense that he can actually defeat them. I guess this is meant to be lighter fare than previous MCU entries, but there’s not a whole lot of actual danger evident at the end. Now, this may also be to catch the audience off guard when a certain character sacrifices their life. It’s obvious they’re going to defeat Ego, but it’s NOT obvious that we were going to lose someone.
So, I’ll give them props for that.
I didn’t have my notebook with me in the theater so I couldn’t keep a tally, but there were hella explosions and they were awesome. And they totally furthered the plot and were important.
Favorite explosion: when Ego takes out all of Ayesha’s fighters at once.
The Hero’s Journey: 8/10
The character stuff is pretty good, if a bit telegraphed.
Nebula was so one-dimensional in the beginning of this film, that I was really worried that they’d completely ruined her character, but then we get past her outer shell, and she has some great moments, which is fantastic.
Rocket is still a favorite of mine. We get more of what makes him tick, and it’s marvelous.
Baby Groot is perfect and I love him.
I LOVE Drax’s interactions with Mantis. She’s so odd and he seems to really appreciate that. And she’s so clueless that she isn’t bothered by Drax’s lack of a filter.
Gamora has a lot more depth and likability in this one, which I really appreciated. She was sort of flat in the first one, and she feels more developed here.
Peter Quill is the only one who didn’t draw me in, and that’s difficult to comprehend because he’s freaking gorgeous. His angst in this one is something we’ve seen in MANY other TV shows and movies, so it didn’t really draw me in. It was awesome to see him realize that he has super crazy powers, especially after feeling a bit too ordinary surrounded by so many crazy powerful folks, but I wish we’d gotten more of that in relation to his team rather than in his conflict with Ego.
It’s always difficult when you have so many main characters and he’s the only human, so by his very nature, he becomes the audience surrrogate that we see things through. And it’s REALLY hard to make that character stand out as much as the kookier characters. Chris Pratt does a good job with the more lighthearted stuff (he handles comedy very well), but the character just doesn’t have much in the way of dramatic heft (except in that heartbreaking last scene where the camera just stays directly on his while he tries not to break down. Oh my goodness, that scene was amazing).
Score and Rank
1. Captain America: Civil War (49/50)
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (46/50)
3. The Avengers (45/50)
4. Iron Man (43/50)
5. Doctor Strange (42/50)
6. Iron Man 3 (42/50)
7. Guardians of the Galaxy (41/50)
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (41/50) It tied with itself! Rottentomatoes likes the original a bit more so it wins out in the tie-breaker.
9. Captain America: The First Avenger (40/50)
10. Thor (39/50)
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (39/50)
12. Ant-Man (38/50)
13. Thor: The Dark World (36/50)
14. The Incredible Hulk (34/50)
15. Iron Man 2 (33/50)
Next week, we’re going back to the Star Wars Universe!