Although “Guardians of the Galaxy” is part of Marvel’s ever-expanding collection of superhero movies, it has always differed from the more mainstream “Avengers” franchise in its focus on humor and, of course, '80s pop music repertoire. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” lives up to its predecessor while seeking to further expand upon characters introduced in the first movie.
Marvel has, for the most part, not quite been able to pull off sequels. “Thor: The Dark World” and “Iron Man 2” were not well received, and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” failed to live up to “Avengers.” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is one of Marvel’s better sequels, logically continuing what the first movie set up without trying to copy all of its good qualities.
The main strength of the “Guardians” sequel is its focus on emotional development for all of the characters. The key five characters all become more complex over the course of the movie, examining their family bonds, learning about themselves and becoming more appreciative each other. The ending of the film is easily one of the most emotional Marvel endings, focusing more on characters’ responses to the action rather than the action itself. As a result, “Guardians” feels much more meaningful than many other Marvel sequels that tended to merely serve as a way to tide fans over until the next “Avengers” movie.
The principal appeal of the “Guardians” sequel (and probably why many fans came out to see the movie) is Baby Groot. Baby Groot steals the show from its opening scene and at times provides needed relief from the action. His character is not entirely extraneous, becoming a crucial plot point from time to time, and his adorableness doesn’t become the main focus of the film. Still, Baby Groot is still one of the key reasons to buy a ticket to the show.
The visuals of the first “Guardians” movie hold up in its sequel. The intricacy of the planets, the realism of the action scenes and the incredible shots in the last scene all astound viewers. The movie shows the audience more of the “Guardians” universe, touching on new planets and spaceships, and it is incredible.
That is not to say that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a perfect movie. The film becomes unnecessarily dark at times for what is meant to be a fun movie, and the first hour of the film does not come close to being as good as its second half. Some of the film's morals are hammered into viewer’s minds instead of being suggested. Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) storyline is clichéd for the action sci-fi genre, as viewers can guess exactly what is going to happen to him over the course of the movie. Indeed, the misadventures of Rocket, Baby Groot, Yondu and even Drax save the movie, providing unique storylines that help develop the characters and hold the audience’s interest. By the time the credits roll, viewers can almost forget these negative qualities due to how perfectly the film comes together.
The first “Guardians” movie became widely known for its soundtrack, making even action-packed scenes comical by pairing them with classic rock songs. The sequel follows this same mold with another round of enjoyable picks. “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra kicks off a near perfect opening scene, providing the right amount of humor to show audiences that the movie does not take itself too seriously. Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” provides a heartfelt song to accompany the emotional ending to the film. Audience members who last through the credits (which are interrupted by a total of five extra scenes) have the great joy of hearing David Hasselhoff sing about the Guardians’ adventures. It’s even more amusing than it sounds.
Overall, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” strays from the superhero movie mold with more emotional development than usual for a Marvel movie. Through overdone at times, the ending of the movie is well worth the wait, whether you’ve seen every Marvel movie or if you couldn’t pick Captain America out of a lineup. At the bare minimum, see the film for its soundtrack and for Baby Groot.