Well, it’s finally here. The follow up to the wildly successful and endearing Guardians of the Galaxy is splashing up on the big screen, and to say that expectations are high would be an understatement. Guardians 2 strives to be bigger and better than the original, and with a movie this huge, it’s gonna take more than one person to review it. Bryan and Adam got a chance to see it earlier this week, so they are going to team up and take on this team of A-holes together!
Oh, and we’re going to keep it as spoiler free as possible, so read on without fear!
Adam: The first Guardians sits as one of my favorite Marvel movies of all time. In fact, it switches back and forth between one, two and three with Winter Soldier and Civil War depending on my mood. James Gunn is also near and dear to my heart, so to be honest, I was a bit worried that this couldn’t live up to the hype in my head. Well, I shouldn’t have. While you really can’t compare the Guardians movies because they are such completely different animals in terms of tone, story and character development, this one is every bit as good in its own right as what came before. It’s a movie that demands a rewatch because so much unfolds so quickly that people are going to miss a lot their first time through. And that’s a good thing! Too often, films are kind of a “one and done” type deal, and it’s enjoyable to have something to look forward to seeing again. It’s also one of the few films that I had to stay up and ponder for hours after I got out of it. I was up with friends until 3 AM discussing not only some of the cool filmmaking aspects of it but also just the sheer joy we had of experiencing it together. Again, this is a sentiment not felt as often as it should in modern cinema.
Bryan: This is definitely a fun film, but I wonder about how much rewatchability there is to the Marvel films. This movie is great, and I loved it as much as the original Guardians film, but I haven’t felt the need to revisit that film since my third viewing in the theater either. It’s a very well-made popcorn film and it fills in a lot of great Marvel mythology and stands up as one of the better Marvel films, but it’s still, ultimately, a bit of disposable entertainment.
Adam: And see, I watch Guardians at least once a month and will always stop and finish it if it pops up while i’m channel surfing. It’s one of the rare films that I can’t get sick of. I’m also quite happy that Gunn and company decided to make this a standalone film, separate from the rest of the MCU because the character development and narration would have suffered had they tried to shoehorn in Avengers stuff.
Bryan: Structurally, the film feels refreshing because it’s such a departure from how the normal Marvel films go. That, along with the comedy, is probably the film’s greatest strength. That and the cast. The cast is really what sings here. Michael Rooker as Yondu gives a surprisingly soulful performance and the combined work of Sean Gunn, Bradley Cooper, and the FX houses for Rocket Raccoon is incredible. Chris Pratt feels like he’s on autopilot, even though he seemed to be having a lot of fun.
Adam: Chris Pratt as Star-Lord feels like Chris Pratt just being himself. Not nearly as much as Tony Stark has essentially become Robert Downey Jr. but it’s close. Everyone gets their moment to shine, but it really is Rocket and surprisingly Yondu who become the heart of this movie. If you would have told me that a minor character I really didn’t care about in the previous movie would move me to tears in this one, I would have laughed in your face, but that’s exactly what happened. And this is almost much more Rocket’s film than anyone else’s. Out of everyone, he has the most distinct and widest character arc and is really a much different character by the end than he was in the beginning.
Bryan: See, now I think Robert Downey, Jr. created a persona for Tony Stark that is distinct from himself, or, say, his role in Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, or Chaplin. But the standout, for me, was Kurt Russell. He was enjoying himself in a way I almost haven’t seen since his original days as a Disney star. It’s fitting to see him come home, in a tangential sort of way at least. There was a glee to him as Ego that is infectious for audiences. And when the film takes you through the reality of his character, he gets even more delicious in his play-acting.
Adam: Kurt Russell was definitely having the most fun in the whole thing. And I will give major props to the people behind the trailers because as much as is revealed in them, no one really has any idea of the actual plot or how things will play out. Even though I’ve seen them countless times, I was still fully surprised by pretty much everything that happened in the film. Granted, there was some obvious foreshadowing regarding some things, but considering how Marvel has thrown us red herrings before (as in Age of Ultron), it still didn’t change the impact of what happened despite my already knowing it would.
Oh and we haven’t even talked about the soundtrack. When Gunn first released the list of songs for Awesome Mix vol. 2, I’ll admit I was a little worried. The songs were much deeper cuts than what we were used to from the first one, and I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to fit into the narrative. Well, they’re used to much greater effect than before, and each is now indelibly etched in my memory along with the scene they were paired with.
Bryan: Overall, I think this was a refreshing film in these dark times and we have another heroic story of people, even selfish people, willing to sacrifice their lives in order to save the galaxy. And that’s the sort of hope we need right now. Selfless acts are in short supply and maybe movies like this will encourage more of them. Technically, the story was well-told and had enough context for fans new and old alike to find different levels of enjoyment. It will definitely make a lot of money and is a great example of a popcorn film done right. 8 out of 10.
Adam: A beacon of light in these dark times. That’s exactly what this is and why I just absolutely loved it so much. James Gunn obviously adores these characters and the universe he brings them to life in is ripe for the audience to just sit back and bask in it all. As I said at the beginning, I geeked out with friends for nearly three times as long as the movie is because there was so much there to talk about and be excited for. There are so many easter eggs and nods to classic Marvel that I doubt even the most hardcore fans will ever find them all. And from just a filmmaking standpoint it’s wonderful shot and directed with a punched up funny and poignant script and has some jaw dropping cinematography. I wouldn’t change a thing, and I can’t wait to go back and see it again. 10 out of 10