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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Is a Worthy Sequel

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment

Warning: this review contains spoilers.

When Marvel released Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, it took everyone by surprise. A superhero movie in space featuring some of Marvel’s lesser known characters, including a talking tree and a raccoon, became a runaway hit with audiences. Because of that, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a lot to live up to, and it mostly delivered. While it was obvious that Vol. 2 tried to copy the formula that made the original film so successful, the jokes still worked and the new characters were a welcome addition. Though it didn’t feel as fresh as the original, it was definitely an enjoyable and worthy sequel.

The humor, arguably the best part of the original film, is definitely still present in the sequel. Drax, once again played expertly by Dave Bautista, leads the way with his quips and deadpan style, and serves as much needed comic relief in many scenes in the movie. Rocket Raccoon and Baby Groot, who is absolutely adorable and often steals the show, also have the same humor and banter that made them such an enjoyable pair in the first film. New character Mantis is very naive and doesn’t always understand social cues, much like Drax in the original, leading to some humorous situations. Cameos from Stan Lee, David Hasselhoff, and Howard the Duck also gave everyone in the theater a good laugh, as did Peter Quill receiving a Zune after his Walkman was destroyed. And though the Guardians have all come together as a team, their bickering and misunderstandings are still prevalent and work just as well for comic relief as they did in the first film. While some of the jokes and style seem like they were directly trying to emulate the original Guardians of the Galaxy, they’re still funny and never fall completely flat.

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment

Where Vol. 2 really shines, though, is in how it deals with the subject of family. Peter finally meets his father, a celestial named Ego, played wonderfully by Kurt Russell, only to find out that he isn’t exactly as he seems. Though their reunion is initially a happy one, Peter soon finds out that his father is power hungry and that he killed Peter’s mother so he wouldn’t be tempted to return to Earth. While Ego tries to kill Peter to preserve his end goals, Yondu is willing to sacrifice himself so that Peter can live. Peter initially thought that Yondu had kept him from his father for his own gain, but he realizes that Yondu was actually trying to protect him after learning that Ego had killed all the other children Yondu had delivered to him. The most emotional scene in the movie involves Peter reflecting on Yondu being a father to him while Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” plays in the background during Yondu’s funeral, which is arguably one of the most visually beautiful scenes in any Marvel movie. Though somewhat in the background, Gamora and Nebula, who were at odds during most of the first movie thanks to the rivalry instilled in them by their father, Thanos, strike an uneasy truce and begin to treat each other as sisters. While their goals remain different, with Nebula ultimately wanting revenge against Thanos, their bond at the end of the film is implied to be stronger than it has ever been, culminating in an emotional hug at the end of the film.

In addition to the actual family moments, Vol. 2 shows a lot of growth with how the team has evolved and treats each other like a family. One of the best subplots in the movie involves Rocket Raccoon bonding with Yondu and revealing how he’s afraid of getting too close to people on the team and realizing that he actually cares about them. Though seemingly played for laughs, the moment at the end where Rocket fires a blast at Gamora to stop her from trying to rescue Peter takes an emotional turn when he says he won’t lose another friend that day, referring to the sacrifice he knows Yondu is about to make. Mantis and Nebula are embraced as members of the team, and the bond between Drax and Mantis is particularly sweet. While these heroes reluctantly came together in the first movie, they really became like a pseudo-family in the sequel.

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment

There were lots of other highlights about the movie, including the soundtrack. Featuring bands like Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, and Cheap Trick, it has the same who’s who of ’70s music that the soundtrack to the first Guardians movie did. And while the first film was full of great music, the songs in Vol. 2 seem more expertly chosen and meaningful to different situations in the movie. The five post-credits scenes were also a plus, as they set up future storylines for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and also added more trademark humor. Teenage Groot was hilarious, and everyone enjoyed seeing Stan Lee converse with the Watchers in a nod to popular fan theories about his cameos.

Though the movie was overall enjoyable, at times it did feel like a retread of the first film. Marvel movies tend to follow a formula, but still maintain a kind of originality. Vol. 2, though, at times seemed like it was trying to be an exact copy of the first movie. It felt less like trying to capture the feeling of the original and instead felt like it was trying to do the same things as the first movie, just differently, and less successfully. And while the emotional moments were where the movie really shined, it often tried to break that up with jokes where it didn’t need to. The characters in Guardians definitely allow for more humor than in the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the emotional highs should have been allowed to stand on their own instead of constantly inserting comic relief moments.

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment

All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an enjoyable, solid sequel to the first film. It’s not perfect, but it would be almost impossible to recapture the magic and surprise brought about by the first movie. The jokes, though sometimes a bit stale, are still funny and the characters are still as enjoyable as the were in the original but with added depth. Chris Pratt is still charming as ever as Star-Lord, and the friendship/implied romance with Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is sweet and feels completely natural to the characters. Where some Marvel sequels falter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 managed to shine, albeit somewhat predictably, but is worth a view, or two, whether you’re a Marvel fan or just someone who enjoys a good popcorn movie.

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Let us know your thoughts on the sequel in the comments below!

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