James Gunn is Marvel’s Secret Weapon With “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2”

By Scott Kurland

Film: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper

Rated: PG-13

Director: James Gunn

Note: I waited a few weeks to post this review because there will be spoilers and it seems I have to wait more and more with Marvel movies to post reviews because there’s plenty of Easter eggs and spoilers galore.

                Say what you will about the comic book movie war, but Marvel will always beat DC at the box office. Call it what you will; luck, a deal with the devil, or smart production. They win time and time again. However, Marvel has a problem with sequels. True the “Captain America” movies have great sequels, but as for “Iron Man” and “Thor”... not so much. Let’s not even start with “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” because that film is nowhere near as good as “The Avengers.” With full awareness that Marvel sequels are good but not great,  I went into “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2” with medium expectation. Luckily, James Gunn is a genius and the MCU allows him to experiment with weird, new levels of filmmaking. Let’s find out how good this film is shall we? One caveat, there are spoilers ahead!

   About year after the events of the first film,  the Guardians are now established "heroes for hire." After all, saving an entire planet certainly has its perks. Under the command of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the team must save the Sovereign, a group of genetically perfect specimens who hold a powerful energy source. Their efforts are rewarded with the return of the imprisoned Nebula (

Karen Gillan)

. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) however, gets the group in trouble with the Sovereign who pursues them relentlessly... that is until mystery man named Ego (Kurt Russell) intervenes. As it turns out,

Ego is Peter’s father

. Accompanied by his empath servant Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ego brings Peter, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to his home planet. Rocket on the other hand, is left in charge of Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Nebula. As larger conspiracy begins to unravel, Peter and his rag-tag crew must strengthen their bonds as a true family, or face destruction.

This film might be Marvel’s most heart-wrenching film to date . The underlying message of the film is family; mainly the bond of a father and a son, as well as the sacrifices parents make for their children. Gunn drives this message home by delving deeper into the background of Michael Rooker’s Yondu. In the first film, we the audience see him only as a heartless space pirate with money on his mind. But in this film, we learn there’s A LOT more to his relationship with peter than we originally thought.  The character of Yondu comes full circle; making  a very difficult decision in order to save a loved one.  I have seen “Guardians” three times since its release and just like when I saw “Your Name” (see my review), I bawl my eyes out every time.

   Gunn’s script is virtually perfect. What few holes it contains are easily overlooked because the characters, humor and heart culminate into what is  a genuinly fun Marvel movie. The dialog is clever, funny, and at times, very raw. What I like most about this sequel is the backstory of Rocket and why he treats people the way he does. Actually, the backstories of both Rocket and Drax achieve greatly in terms of development. But, it’s Cooper as Rocket that takes the cake. Cooper’s voice performance makes you forget you’re watching a CGI racoon.  He just really breaths life into the character. Rocket is moody and a smart ass, but he’s also filled with loyalty and love for his new-found family.

                You can’t talk about “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” without mentioning the music or Chris Pratt. And this time around, they both go hand-in-hand. The Guardians are like this crazy rock band in space who feud and fight with one another, but man do they make beautiful music together. This is mainly because of their front man, Starlord, played once again to perfection by Chris Pratt. Pratt is the only actor I know who can be the bad boy and the boy-next-door at the same time. What he does with the role is absolutely incredible.  He has two moments to shine at the end of this film, and boy does he shine. One involves a speech that will leave a lump in your throat, the other takes place while he is listening to Cat Stevens' “Father & Son.” Ultimately, without Pratt at the helm, both the character and this series would not have achieved quite the same lift-off that they did. He just makes a fun film even more fun.

“Guardians of The GalaxyVol. 2” really cranks the series to eleven with the action, story, and music. The first film had one of the highest grossing soundtracks of all time, and Vol. 2 ups the game. Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” brings the heat, but Looking Glass’ “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” sets the films tone. “Guardians of The Galaxy” is a film series that really has made the MCU what it should be. And allowing James Gunn to use his unique bizarre voice makes this film one of the best sequels of all time. This is a must see, and I love these movies so much.



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