Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
***Spoiler Alert***Spoiler Alert***Spoiler Alert***Spoiler Alert***
With real life poking it’s head into my business constantly for the past month, I found that I had to wait until over two weeks after the opening to see this film (and it was well worth the wait). I managed to avoid spoilers and am happy to say that I love this film and am hoping to see it again before it leaves the theaters.
In this second edition of Guardians, the entire cast is back with some notable additions. Including Kurt Russell as the god-like super-villain Ego and Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord, a high ranking Ravager who has some history with Yondu. Also added to the cast this time around was Pom Klementieff as Mantis, a cohort of Ego who possesses empathetic powers.
The movie opens with Ego and an earth woman (later to be revealed as Peter Quill’s mother) spending time together. Ego shows her a seedling that he has planted on Earth that will eventually allow him to extend his consciousness there.
The Guardians we have come to know and love have made a reputation for themselves and are hired to various tasks. One such task they are performing is to protect some valuable batteries from an interdimensional monster. Their payment for these services is to take possession of Gamora’s sister, Nebula, after being caught attempting to steal the batteries herself. When Ayesha discovers that Rocket has taken some of the batteries, she sends a large number of drone ships after the Guardians which forces them to crash land on a planet.
Ego arrives on the scene and reveals himself to be Quill’s actual father. After they become acquainted, Quill, Drax, and Gamora go to Ego’s home planet. Meanwhile, Yondu (who has been exiled from the Ravagers) is hired by Ayesha to track down and capture the Guardians. Yondu does capture rocket but is reluctant to turn Quill over to Ayesha. Yondu’s lieutenant, Taserface sees an opportunity to usurp Yondu’s leadership and with the help of Nebula, pulls off a successful mutiny. Having Rocket and Yondu imprisoned, Nebula leaves to find and kill her sister, Gamora. Groot and Kraglin, a Ravager that remains loyal to Yondu, set Rocket and Yondu free. Taserface manages to get a message to Ayesha while Yondo, and Rocket destroy the Ravager ship.
Back on Ego’s planet, we discover that Ego is a god-like being known as a Celestial and that he took human form to travel the universe to discover his purpose. We also learn that he sent Yondu to collect Quill after his mother died, but Yondu never delivered Quill to Ego, but instead kept him because he was small and able to get into places that the other Ravagers were not able to get into. Ego then begins teaching Quill how to use his Celestial powers. Meanwhile, Nebula arrives on Ego’s planet and tries to kill Gamora. Nebula fails, but she and Gamora find an uneasy reconciliation of their differences. Together, they discover a cavern with a mountain of skeletal remains. While under some hypnotic influence, Ego reveals to quill that he has planted seedlings on thousands of worlds, but that it takes two Celestials to activate their terraforming powers. He further tells quill that he impregnated thousands of women and hired Yondu to collect the children which he killed when they proved not to have the needed Celestial powers to activate the seedlings. Quill snaps out of the trance when ego further reveals that he deliberately caused the death of his mother.
The Guardians reunite on Ego’s planet, and along with Mantis, Nebula, Yondu, and Kraglin, there is a huge final battle in which a bomb made from the batteries that Rocket stole from Ayesha destroys Ego’s brain at the center of ego’s planet. As the planet is breaking up, Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill from the destruction. With Ego no longer a threat, Nebula leaves to hunt down and kill Thanos and the Guardians hold a funeral for Yondo that is attended by dozens of Ravager ships.
During the credits, there are five scenes that include Kraglin attempting to use Yondu’s telekinetic weapon with limited success, Stakar Ogord acknowledges Yondu’s sacrifice, a teenaged Groot displaying typical teen behavior, Ayesha creating an artificial being she calls Adam, and finally a group of Watchers walk away while their informant (Stan Lee) talks about his experiences on earth.
There are many things I love about both of the Guardians films. I like the way the cast was chosen, almost like they were born to their parts; they play off of each other so well. The casting director has to be complimented for this. In Vol. 2 though, there was a lot of character development that added to the fun. Drax and Rocket were greatly expanded. I loved Drax’s twisted sense of humor with his laughter, he had me in stitches through the entire picture. It was also great to see that Rocket has some deep feelings although he almost never lets them show. It was a big surprise to me when he knocked Gamora out to keep her from following Yondu to help rescue Quill, then says “Sorry, I can only lose one friend today.”
The most impressive character development was reserved for Yondu. While I enjoyed the character in the first Guardians movie, he wasn’t the most likable character. He kidnapped Quill and brought him into a life of thievery until he was out on his own and found a higher calling. I remember the scene in the first Guardians film when Yondu opened the orb expecting to find the Infinity Stone, but instead finding that Quill had placed a troll doll in it. At that point I couldn’t help but wonder why Yondo didn’t go off his rocker and order his crew to go after Quill to seek revenge, but instead just smiled. After seeing Vol. 2, I now realize that that smile could have very easily been punctuated with a line like “That’s my boy.”
Yondu traveled the galaxy collecting the children that Ego had sired and delivered them to their deaths. Yondu know that this was happening and decided that he would not take Quill to that fate, but instead decided to raise him as his own son. This was something I didn’t expect from the character and added a whole new dimension making Yondu a more likable character to me. I always thought he was pretty cool because of the way he controlled that arrow with his whistle commands.
The humor in this movie is incredible! There are one-off jokes and running gags that kept me laughing all the way through. I especially loved Rocket’s teasing of Taserface. That alone was worth the price of the ticket.
The soundtrack was very good with a choice of songs from the second tape that Quill opened at the end of the first film. I have to say that while I enjoyed the song selections from this film, I liked the selections in the first film better.
I enjoyed the story plot of the Guardians saving the galaxy again, but I enjoyed the subplot, the theme of family that was woven throughout the film. There were many instances where this theme was demonstrated.
Quill finds his father, Ego, a super being that starts out looking like a benevolent man with Quill’s best interests at heart, but we soon learn that there is an agenda because Ego cannot spread his influence through the universe unless he has a partner with the same powers he has. He begins teaching Quill how to use his powers, but Quill is dedicated to protecting the galaxy, not dominating it. Ego quickly turns on Quill as a result illustrating that any man can father a child, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a dad. Yondu, the being that raised Quill and kept him from being used, or killed, by ego points this out when he says, “He may have been your father Quill, but he wasn’t your daddy.” Yondu punctuates this when he is given a rocket pack and an environmental field just before he rescues Quill from the explosion that destroys Ego. Yondu uses the rocket pack to carry Quill to safety, but puts the protective field on Quill to survive exposure to space. Yondu makes the ultimate sacrifice, giving his own life for his adoptive son. I was very saddened to see Yondu die just as his character was being developed so well. Yeah, I know that the character development was a trope that happens all the time in movies where we, the audience, are set up for such emotional moments, but I am a sucker for this particular trope. At any rate, I found myself both weeping and laughing at the same time when Quill delivers his eulogy for Yondu:
“I told Gamora how when I was a kid I used to pretend David Hasselhoff was my dad. He's a singer and actor from earth, really famous guy. Yondu didn't have a talking car, but he did have a flying arrow. He didn't have a beautiful voice of an angel, but he did have the whistle of one. Both Yondu and David Hasselhoff went on kick-ass adventures and hooked up with hot women, and fought robots. I guess David Hasselhoff did kinda end up being my dad after all, only it was you, Yondu. I had a pretty cool dad. What I'm trying to say here is... sometimes, that thing you're searching for your whole life is right there by your side all along, and you don't even know it.”
Another example of the family theme was demonstrated in the Nebula/Gamora relationship. Thanos pitted the sisters against one another, most likely hoping that they would, at best, tie in combat, but when Gamora lost, Thanos would try to improve Nebula to make her more like Gamora. How many times has one seen this trope in film? “Why can’t you be more like…?” which only causes a rivalry between siblings and causes one to believe to get their parent’s approval, they have to live up to the other sibling. Nebula explains it this way:
“As a child, my father would have Gamora and me battle one another in training. Everytime, my sister prevailed. My father would replace a piece of me with machinery, claiming he wanted me to be "her equal." But she won. Again, and again, and again, never once refraining.”
Later, Nebula confronts Gamora and explains her point of view that leads to a reconciliation between the two:
“You're the one who wanted to win, but I just wanted a sister. You were all I had, but you just needed to win. Thanos pulled my eye from my head. He tore my brain from my skull, and my arm from my body... because of you!”
Parents can really mess their kids up if they are bent on galactic domination.
Whether or not a message was intended, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great fun romp and a very entertaining, funny and well paced film that will have you laughing and crying both at the same time. What a great way to kick off a summer that promises to be filled with genre blockbusters.
Well, there it is…
Edited by Benjamin Arrowood