The eagerly awaited sequel to Marvel’s more humorous side hit cinemas last week. After the unexpected cult success of the first film how does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 stand up to audiences’ expectations?
Firstly, the soundtrack is as its title suggests: awesome. Being released a week prior to the UK premier, audiences had plenty of time to acquaint themselves with the quirky and offbeat 70’s tracks. The presence of lesser known songs alongside powerhouse classics such as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ and ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’, creates a dynamic selection that fits the overall frantic mood of the film. Whilst George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ and the prominently featured Sam Cooke’s ‘Bring It Home To Me’, add emotional depth to the film’s slower and more emotive scenes. Sometimes, however, the soundtrack’s prominence can seem forced and over emphasized. This is unlike its predecessor which incorporated the soundtrack organically and ensured there was a pertinent connection between the songs and the story.
The humour was another largely praised point of Guardians of the Galaxy, with the classic 70’s comedy preventing it from being too serious and also making it more appealing to older viewers. Due to the fantastic returning performances, this quality was thoroughly maintained. Dave Bautista’s Drax is back, and his excellent comic timing and absurd incapacity to understand human emotion now features more prominently. Everyone’s favourite amorphized CGI tree, Groot, is also pushed into the spotlight, but this time he is a more adorable toddler rather than the gentle giant we have seen before. Without giving away spoilers, Groot becomes more integral to the plot throughout the film, using humour created by his inability to follow simple instructions. Audiences should also watch out for amazing cameos from celebrities and of course Stan Lee. Yet like the soundtrack, it sometimes felt as though the film was trying too hard to make the audience laugh instead of letting the excellent writing and comic timing of its cast naturally do the work.
Due to the first films success and its subsequent cult following, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol.2 did have a larger budget than its predecessor which unsurprisingly lead to more visual effects. These are especially apparent on the planet Ego, which is almost completely reliant on CGI to create a fantastical otherworldly experience for the audience. Sometimes a larger budget (especially in action and fantasy films), can culminate in the production team becoming over reliant on the special effects instead of focusing on the nuances of a film’s plot. Thankfully this is not done here: the script frequently probes important emotional points from the first film, such as the death of Quill’s mother and the familial bond between Gamora and Nebula, resulting in some surprisingly tender moments that flesh out the characters’ relationships and ensure three-dimensional character development.
Guardians 2 works excellently, and its cult following will no doubt endure to a third film, which is made very apparent in the post credit sequences. In relation to the other Marvel films due to be released this year, it will work very well with the 70’s comic style being hinted at in what we have seen from Thor: Ragnarok, and it also appears to be a great stepping stone to next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Audiences should definitely stay for the entire credit sequence, as director James Gunn treats you to not just one or two after credits scenes, but five, that each show after film development of characters and hint to the future of the franchise.