A Family Film…In More Ways Than One (Guardians Vol 2 Review)

They’re not friends.  They’re family.

Guardians of the Galaxy introduced Marvel newbies (and even some long time Marvel fans) to the galactic side of the Marvel Universe.  Even among regular comic book readers, the Guardians were not a well-known group.  Rarely would you see a Guardians of the Galaxy cosplay at conventions until the first film was released in 2014.  But now, Guardians of the Galaxy is a global phenomenon with fans worldwide singing (sometimes literally) its praises.  If Guardians showed us who these funny, witty, take action group of characters were, then Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 shows us who they have become.

A family.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Yondu (Michael Rooker), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Guardians Vol. 2 not only shows the continuing evolution of the group as a family, but introduces new members to the family, and explores each character’s deep emotional angst about family.  It really is a family film in more ways than one.  All we really knew about Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) was that his mother died of cancer when he was young and almost immediately afterward was taken captive by Yondu, a blue-skinned space alien who for some reason took him aboard his ship and had him join the Ravagers crew.  But in this film, we find out about Peter’s dad (Ego – played by Kurt Russell) and where he has been all these years.  And what was up with Yondu capturing Peter in the first place?

In the first film, we get a glimpse at the rather hostile relationship between Gamora and her sister Nebula (hostile since Nebula left Gamora to die in the cold vacuum of space).  In this film, Nebula returns and ends up working with the Guardians and we discover not only how the relationship between the two sisters went bad, but why Nebula has all those weird metal parts and Gamora doesn’t.  Teaser, I know.

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Guardians Vol. 2 reveals more about Drax and what exactly happened to his family, Yondu and his relationship to the rest of the Ravagers, and why Rocket has so much pent up anger and hostility.  But perhaps my favorite relationship is the one between the crew and Baby Groot.  In the original Guardians, Groot sacrifices himself to save all of them, and in this film we witness how the other Guardians have rallied around Baby Groot to protect him while he is growing up (again).  In every aspect of the film, the theme about family runs strongly throughout.

But in case you think the Guardians franchise is turning into a soap opera (and with a third film in the works I think you can call it a franchise), let’s be clear – this is an action movie all the way.  Somehow Director James Gunn is able to squeeze all of this family relationship stuff in between gun battles, spaceship fights, and sword play.  The fight scenes are bombastic and the dialogue is both funny and witty.  But it isn’t the first film.  It’s its own creation.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) literally wielding a gun from the armament of a space ship! Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2017

Someone I talked to at the press conference remarked that it was like the Empire Strikes Back of this series, and I have to agree.  The first film kind of had it all.  But the second really delved into the meat of the characters.  Me, I’m A New Hope kind of guy, but I loved Empire too.  Same is true for this series.  While it would be hard to top the first film, I don’t think this one was trying to.  It was doing something different and as James said at the press conference, “…we really tried to let these characters grow and change. We want to watch them become new people and different people in every film that we come up with. And I think allowing them to be themselves and do their thing… I know that sounds strange because I’m writing what they say… but sometimes I’m just letting it happen inside my own imagination and letting the characters go where they wanted to go. I think the thing that I didn’t want to mess up was just trying to be a rehash of the first movie.”  And it wasn’t.

People will debate which one was better – the first film or the second.  But the truth is both are really good movies that will entertain you and keep you fixated in your seat.  As to which one you think is better?  I’d be interested to know.  Of course, first you have to see it.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 opens in theaters nationwide today – May 5th!

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