It should come as no surprise that Peder and I have been waiting with bated breath for this movie to come out since…well, pretty much since we watched the final post-credits scene of the first one. We had high hopes for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (I mean, how could we not?), and it didn’t disappoint.
To me, the main way that GotG2 succeeded was that instead of trying to be a bigger, brighter, louder version of the original, it got up close and personal. Instead of trying to top its earlier efforts, it did its own thing while still keeping the technicolor backdrops and absurd shenanigans that made the first one so fantastic, and boy, did it work. Though there’s no shortage of over-the-top, hilarious, colorful moments, the scope of the story zeroes in on the personal histories and foibles of the characters. There’s still a galaxy to be saved, but to protect it, the Guardians will first have to confront their own demons.
My only real criticism is that the first act felt a bit chaotic with everything that goes on, and meanders a little at first. But since there are plenty of goofy jokes and adorable baby Groot moments along the way, I can easily forgive this. The characters we already know are back and just as great as ever, and the new ones are perfectly cast and totally engaging. Mantis was a particular favorite of mine — the combination of her innocent naïveté and her insight and intuition, the result of her powers as an empath, seems like it shouldn’t work but totally does, and I loved every moment she was onscreen. It didn’t hurt that every interaction she had with Drax in particular was absurd and delightful.
The true power of the film comes in the way the characters have to confront the things they’ve been running from, and in the way they find that they’re not nearly as different from each other as they’d first believed. Characters whose broken connections seemed irreparable somehow found a place of understanding, and characters who couldn’t possibly seem any less alike found that they truly understood one another, when no one else had ever even bothered to try.
Before I get too mushy about it, let me just say that there was way more depth than I expected this film to have. But don’t worry that things get too deep or serious — whenever there’s a sobering moment, you can be sure that a character will always be there to make a completely inappropriate joke to ruin it (and it’s always glorious).
When all was said and done (and shot up with lasers), I found GotG2 to be a great balance of depth, heart, hilarity, and shiny, shiny explosions. Like the original, I think I’ll only love it more with future rewatchings — I already can’t wait to see it again!
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