2 May 2017

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 Review

We do not own any of these images. 

Hello everyone!

We saw Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 this week-end in IMAX and had so much to say, so I thought I'd write a little review about it. Beware of minor spoilers ahead!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2: A more personal, character driven Marvel film

S: I was pleasantly surprised to see that James Gunn had decided to take a different direction with this one, focusing on the more personal, intimate and character driven plot. The foundation of GoTG2 is family: family dynamics, parental figures & sibling rivalry. From the offset, we genuinely feel like the Guardians are a small, dysfunctional family. 

GoTG2 gives us a better insight into the character's emotions, whilst still maintaining the humor & aesthetic that made the first film such a worthy success. With a slower pace than it's predecessor, action took a back seat to allow for more character interaction & personal moments. With that being said, it's still an action film, with great humor that had the whole theater laughing out loud - and stunning visuals that will leave you in awe. 

One of my favourite things about the film is what is left unspoken: little moments that imply that the GoTG have shared tons of memories together, whether that be getting drunk and telling stories about David Hasselhoff, or soaring through the skies together, smiling and laughing. All these little scenes are SO important as they contribute to this family feel, that the characters aren't just colleagues but close friends who dearly care for one another. Once again, we have a great soundtrack filled with hit songs that you are bound to recognize.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 kept the elements that made the 1st film such a success, whilst adding more depth & emotion : character interactions, character development, learning more about their tragic backstories and overcoming the obstacles between them. 

  • Parental Figures
The opening scene of the film is of Peter's parents on Earth: his mother, clearly in love & happy. The entire plot is built around Peter Quill's father Ego, who after saving them from the Sovereigns takes the team to his own world. Spoilers aside, it's safe to say there is a lot of discussion to be had about parental figures in this film: we have the absent, biological father Ego who claims he wants to be  the father he knows Peter never had, and then we have Yondu: the father figure who taught Peter everything he knows, despite being borderline emotionally/verbally abusive - I'm still not sure if that last comment is going too far, but it's safe to say their relationship wasn't always a very healthy one. 

Not only do we have Peter's two parental figures, but we also have Nebula who has a bigger role in this sequel. She clearly states she wants to end Thanos, her father, who abused & tortured her into what she is today. I'll be talking about her a lot more in this review, but I thought it was important to show the different parental aspects in this film. We also have Rocket, who has never known a true parental figure: during a touching scene between Rocket & Yondu, Yondu claims that the scientists that made him clearly didn't care for him. And of course, cute Baby Groot, who contributes to this family aspect of the film: he brings out everyone's caring side. He proves that just because you had a bad parent, doesn't mean you can't be a good one. Another scene which covers this topic, is a touching scene between Drax & the newcomer, Mantis: Mantis feels the pain that Drax feels over the loss of his daughter.

  • Family & Sisterhood
The Guardians felt like a family in this film, it's like an unspoken truth that we feel but don't say out loud throughout the film until the end - it all comes down to family, whether they be blood or not. Family doesn't end in blood, but it doesn't start there either (as Dean Winchester would say). At the end of the film, it's Drax who states that they are all family - and no one gets left behind. I wanted to discuss Nebula & Gamora's sister bond in this film, as it was very refreshing to see in the MCU. We see more of their personalities, and they express their feelings. Nebula. who has only ever wanted a sister, but yet suffered at her sister's success, and Gamora, who as a child did what she had to do in fear of Thanos' wrath, therefore costing her this sister bond. At the end of the film, Peter expresses that was has been missing from his life has actually been in front of him the whole time - a message that both Gamora & Nebula can relate to. What has been missing from Nebula's life is family, is a sister. The fact that Gunn decided to show that was has been missing from their lives was a sister, instead of a lover like the traditional plot would undoubtedly imply (as in Peter & Gamora getting together) was refreshing.

  • How Guardians Of The Galaxy will tie in with Infinity War
As you may or may not know - Infinity War will bring together all of our heroes & villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Infinity War being a few films away, how will GoTG2 tie in? I expected one of the after-credits scenes to give another hint about Thanos or the infinity stones, so when we didn't, it begged the question of how this team will unite with The Avengers in the war to come. With so many franchises now ongoing in the MCU, imagine how difficult it must be to find a way to successfully weave so many characters into a logical Infinity War plot. My guess is that it will be Thor who will eventually connect both parties - whether that will be in Ragnarok or not.

  • Sexualisation and Masculinity 

H: I'm SO grateful for James Gunn: not once is a female character sexualized in this film. Moreover, the female characters are powerful, and driven: AND they have their own sub-plots. (I couldn't believe we actually had 3 FEMALE CHARACTERS in one scene. We're getting there people!) They also have their own distinct personalities, all well established right from the off-set, proving once again that James Gunn is more than capable of writing female characters with depth. We also have a female in a position of power with the introduction of Ayesha (though we do have Nova Prime in Vol. 1, we get to see both sides of the coin: a 'goodie' and a 'baddie'.)

In the next part of this review/analysis, I'll be discussing some of the character arcs within the film which further validates Gunn's success at writing interesting characters with back-stories, personal issues, and emotional depth. 

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is more than just a possible love-interest for Quill: we get to see her more personal issues which took root when she was a child, like her relationship with her sister. This is a relationship that hasn't been explored properly in the MCU as of yet (Though we do have a good depiction of a brother and sister relationship of Ward and Joy Meachum in Iron Fist). Although there is something unspoken between Gamora and Peter, I think we can all appreciate that we don't rush into anything whatsoever: they are still getting to know each-other and taking it slow, yet both acknowledging that they have feelings for each-other.

James Gunn has successfully avoided falling into the cliché romantic kissing scene, focusing instead on the building of a steady, trusting relationship through-out the whole film. The characters chemistry is further explored in the film when Quill and Gamora discuss personal off-screen moments, such as when Quill was drunk and told Gamora stories from his childhood. It's those little moments which contribute to Gunn's directorial success: he knows how to establish a world without showing everything, and without direct statements: it's all in the details.

Nebula (Karen Gillan) perfectly embodies the struggle between love and hate, desire and hatred: her sheer determination and soul-consuming anger is central to the film. She is struggling to face her feelings towards her sister, someone she has only ever been in competition with her whole life, in an environment where survival was the only thing that mattered, where no value was placed upon family. She comes to terms with how she was treated and how the one thing she always desperately wanted is a sister. I mean we have a female character who doesn't have a romantic love interest/isn't interested in that at all (!!!). Her one goal is to stop Thanos, and she is doing everything she can to ensure his destruction. Gillan perfectly demonstrates Nebula's sheer, emotional pain, destructive desire and longing.

It's fair to say the make-up and prosthetic teams have once again out-done themselves with such incredible work: Nebula's appearance in particular is remarkable. It's no wonder her character is so admired in the MCU - how can you not feel a rush of fear with that scorching glare?

This platonic love between the characters is something I've been craving to see more of in films. It would seem that romantic love is always prioritized, yet in the Guardians team dynamic, it is the platonic love that keeps them all going. It's the reason they're all together, when they could all have gone their separate ways. They came together in Vol. 1, having been bought closer by a life-changing experience, now we get to see them live and work together, and act as a family. This is something that Nebula has yet to grasp, ''all you ever do is fight'', she doesn't know how it feels to be part of a family. She doesn't understand that most of the time, families argue because they love each-other, because they care. This makes Nebula's back-story even more heart-breaking.

Mantis' (Pom Klementieff) character is a great addition to the group: not a physical fighter, but a kind of healer, someone whose power lies with her strong connection with emotions. In our world where emotions are so often seen as a weakness, we have a character who has learned to use it to her advantage, it is a strength that proves to be one of the most valuable in the final fight of the film. It is celebrated rather than frowned down upon. Moreover, she is the one who allows the Guardians to open up a bit more as none of them are exactly used to feeling loved or loving someone. 

Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt) - It's so lovely to see male characters cry in these films. As young boys are told not to cry, to 'be a man' , that feeling sad or emotional isn't 'manly', seeing StarLord crying on screen is probably one of the most powerful messages you can possibly send. It normalizes the idea that boys can be emotional, and that there is no shame in showing it. Furthermore I think Chris Pratt really gave a great performance in this film. You could see Peters' pain and his longing, his sadness and anger, and not necessarily through his voice but through his eyes. Masculinity is an important topic in this film - as Gamora says to both Rocket & Peter, if only they worked together to get out of their situation instead of proving who was the better pilot, they wouldn't be in a mess. The same goes for femininity. A woman doesn't need to give up her femininity to be a fighter, just like a man can show his emotions/ discuss his feelings without it making him 'less of a man'. This is very refreshing to see in the MCU and I'm so very grateful for James Gunn.

Drax (Dave Bautista) is so very, very incredibly blunt. As established from the first film, his kind ''are completely literal'', unable to understand metaphors or sarcasm - yet he feels things so deeply. He doesn't hesitate to express love for action and danger, he feels grief but strong love for his lost family, and has the whole cinema laughing with his one-liners. Some of his comments were so shocking I genuinely gasped: particularly when he comments on Mantis' physical appearance. For a moment I couldn't decide whether it was wrong, or whether it played into his character: Drax has no filter, and doesn't lie. Those harsh comments are so perfectly delivered, and because of who and what he is, it makes sense that he would say such things. His honesty towards Mantis wasn't exactly rude, but genuine. He was just being himself. He has no bad intentions, which makes his bluntness all the more comical. Not to mention that he compliments Mantis' personality at the end of the film. This aspect of  his personality makes his character development perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of Vol. 2: he plays a joke on Mantis and finds the result utterly hilarious: his new found appreciation for simple 'human' antics, and enjoyment for life-threatening danger ensures the film's comic relief. Moreover I think Dave Bautista plays the character brilliantly!

Rocket (Bradley Cooper) - Out of all the Guardians, Rocket seems to be the one who buries his feelings the most. After his emotional drunk outburst in the previous film, we see how Rocket still struggles to come to terms with his upbringing: we have a lovely scene between him and Yondu where we see him understand the root of his personal problems. His fear of losing the Guardians, his family, is a strength which he sees only as a weakness - he doesn't want to feel the pain of losing them so he pushes himself away. Once again Rocket saves the day, his love for the others overshadowing all the hatred he holds for himself. I also want to express how incredible it is that we have a film with a talking raccoon and  a tree, how emotionally invested we become in these characters. It feels so normal - we don't even blink at the fact they're a talking animal or tree, proof once again at how incredibly written & established the characters are.

Groot (Vin Diesel) is a central character in the film. Baby Groot is both fragile and dangerous, an interesting sub-plot which intertwines into all the plots of the film. For one, Groot is seen as a literal baby: and every single one of the Guardians keeps watch over him. Even when they're flying through space, their ship damaged by a huge enemy fleet, Peter still tells him to put his seat-belt on. 

Overall I was very happy with this film - pleasantly surprised at the little change in direction, yet thankful that we were given a more character driven sequel instead of the 'bigger, better, MORE ACTION' that we usually get. The more I think about the film, the more I realize just how good it was and how much I enjoyed it. 


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig