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Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ provides cosmic fun

Marvel sequel focuses on comedy, lacks substance

Used+with+fair+use+from+Marvel+Studios
Used with fair use from Marvel Studios

Used with fair use from Marvel Studios

Used with fair use from Marvel Studios

Sam Birnberg

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In “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the Guardians must explore the mysterious truth behind the parentage of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).

Directed by James Gunn, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” recaptures the same vibrant and eccentric tone of the original, providing an entertaining sequel in a similar vein to its predecessor. The movie clearly emphasizes comedy and funny antics, with plenty of enjoyable one-liners and silly on-screen gags. However, Gunn becomes overly-obsessed with running gags and establishing the film’s wild, comedic approach, leaving other aspects of the movie, such as the action and plot, to fall to the wayside. The movie suffers as a result, lacking any true resemblance to an action movie aside from a few standout scenes. The plot is also left as thinly veiled and basic, driven more by the desire for laughs than character development, with a few exceptions.

The cast of “Guardians of the Galaxy” reprise their roles with equally great performances, while new actors prove themselves with satisfactory roles. Chris Pratt returns to his role as the lead, Peter Quill/Star-Lord, the leader of the team who must go through a personal journey as he learns who his father really is. Pratt matches his comedy chops and action skills with dramatic and sensitive undertones effectively. Dave Bautista also returns as Drax, a brutish warrior whose sense of sarcasm and humor develops over the course of the film in hilarious fashion. While Bautista looks the part of the action hero, his role provides one of the film’s most pleasant surprises as the film’s best source of comedic relief. Bautista presents his lines perfectly in character, devoid of intonation and with hilariously wooden delivery.

The shining performances, however, are the portrayals of Baby Groot and Yondu, by Vin Diesel and Michael Rooker, respectively. Diesel’s voice work provides an affectionate and innocent performance as a miniature and younger version of his character from the previous installment. While Diesel’s character is brought to life by CGI, Baby Groot makes a memorable addition to the film as an adorable member of the team, as well as a talented dancing tree creature. Rooker provides the best performance of the film as Yondu, the disgraced leader of the intergalactic space pirates known as the Ravagers, and the mentor to Pratt’s Star-Lord. Rooker shows dramatic range in the character’s own journey throughout the course of the film, and in the end proves to be a scene-stealer. Rooker thrives in his character’s expanded role, owning the character development that occurs as if it were his own. As Rooker shines, his chemistry with Pratt only intensifies throughout the film, making for a stronger character arc for both roles.

The antagonists of the film are under-developed and feel forced into the story rather than providing a significant relevance to the plot. The primary villain is predictable and exaggerated. The secondary antagonist comes off as more of an inconvenience to the heroes than a true threat, more like a spoiled brat than enemy. As a result, the film remains an entertaining movie going experience despite the flaws of the film.

The special effects used, both computer generated and practical, are nothing short of stellar. Gunn’s task of imagining new worlds and planetary bodies and creating unique alien forms was difficult but was pulled off seamlessly. Computer generated effects prove successful and well developed, namely its use to fully create two of the main characters in the story. Practical effects are also used to create many of the alien characters throughout the film, bringing well developed and thought-out designs to life with even the smallest details. From large crafted space battle scenes to even the smallest accessory detail on a background character, the special effects used provide a foundation for the reality in which the Guardians operate in.

As with its predecessor, the movie’s soundtrack not only plays a crucial role in the film’s tone and success, but also possesses a purpose within the storyline. The tracklist full of 80’s classics drives the entire aesthetic of the film, headlined by “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass. The songs not only play a functional role in the film, fitting the essence of each scene with ease. Each melody sets the scene, and the lyrics have meaning and relevance to the dialogue at hand. The soundtrack not only adds a meaningful relevance to the film, but also sets the stage for some of the best scenes in the film.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” provides an entertaining movie going experience full of laughs and good tunes, yet loses sight of establishing action and a prominent antagonist in its final product.

 

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:’ 3/5

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Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ provides cosmic fun