Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Heart Meets Humor


image courtesy of Google images

Luke Adelhoch, Staff Writer

Marvel has been on a roll as of late, especially when looking at how their main competitor DC has been making films. However, I do confess that some more recent Marvel trailers have made me concerned for the future of their films. Thor: Ragnarok and Spiderman: Homecoming looking more like straight up comedy films than the light-hearted yet still gripping stories I’ve become used to after films like Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But if there’s anywhere that I welcome that comedic tone, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Not to mention that even through all the comedy, it’s a genuinely heartfelt story with just as much heart as humor. This in combination with a few other factors makes it, in my humble opinion, even better than the first film.

While many critics have described the movie as not being as “fresh” as the first one, this is to be expected. It is a sequel, we are familiar with these characters and ideas. So what makes a movie good once the novelty of its concept has worn off? It’s quite simple: expand and improve on what’s there. Instead of becoming wider, the film becomes deeper. There are new characters, sure, but they do not detract from the screentime of the original cast and instead play off of them well and show off new sides of them, making them even better and more charming characters. Plus, the real highlight of this movie to me was the expansion of two characters from the previous entry in particular: Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Drax (Dave Bautista). Yondu was a bit more of an anti-hero in the first one, leaning on downright villainy. But in Volume 2, his motivations and more positive aspects are explored as well, making him a very likable character. Drax was fun in the first film, but admittedly underused and slightly inconsistent in his “does not understand metaphors” gimmick. But in the second film, his gimmick has been pushed out of the spotlight in favor of a more “real” and genuine character who is very blunt and literal, but also has a real sense of pathos and charm behind him. Plus, old favorites such as Starlord (Chris Pratt) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) remain just as likable and fun as ever.

There is also a very solid plot, but as per usual in my reviews, I will avoid discussing it at length to avoid spoiling too much. If I could describe it in a word, it would be heartfelt. As a trailer would show you, the plot revolves around Starlord meeting his father for the first time. An absentee father story is very easy to present poorly, using the “he’s your family, you must forgive him” excuse for all of the father’s actions to hand-wave any potential drama that could arise from the situation. Considering how optimistic Marvel movies tend to be, it could have easily fallen into this trap. But it didn’t. The film makes sure to address the various questions that arise from this and answer them in ways that are appropriate for the characters involved. I could go on, but would hate to ruin any magical moments for someone who has not seen the movie yet. Plus, the choice of antagonist in the latter half of the movie was superb- without giving much away, the character has been portrayed as both a hero and villain throughout the history of Marvel Comics. This keeps the audience, even those who are informed about the lore of the comic books, guessing and on the edge of their seat. The reveal is enough of a surprise to intrigue, but foreshadowed enough to be satisfying. After the rather bland antagonist that Ronan the Accuser had been in the first film, it was a very welcome change of pace. Plus, there’s one last thing to say for the plot… the ending. I refuse to give anything away other that than I, a sixteen-year old boy, almost cried. Most Marvel movies have safe happy endings, but the more bittersweet ending that this film featured truly cemented its status among Marvel’s greatest hits for me.

Lastly, I would like to talk about something I never thought I’d be discussing with a Marvel movie: cinematography. To maintain a sense of continuity and unity throughout the shared universe, most Marvel films have a very “samey” style of cinematography and lighting. While this works to create a sense of shared universe, it also makes things look rather bland and uninspired at times. However, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 dodges this trap of blandness and is a visual treat. Creatively framed and scenes shot from various perspectives and interesting transitions may not be consciously noticed by a general audience, but the effort and creativity shows and shines beautifully.

So while there is no objective way to rate a movie, I’d personally rank this one among my top five Marvel films, even eclipsing the original. So even if I was about a week late in actually watching it, I’d say it was well worth the wait and I would actually watch it in theaters again if I was given the chance. If you have not already seen it, I’d say get ready for one grand, hilarious, and heartfelt adventure and make sure to watch this before it leaves theaters.