Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2
The opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is amazing. Baby Groot is running around being cute, we have some sly banter between Gamora and Star-Lord, some funny back-and-forth between Drax and Rocket, and then they are fighting a giant space squid that came from somewhere in the sky. It's amazing to see this team, The Guardians of the Galaxy, back on my cinema screen; loving seeing this crew work together again. Shortly after this opening scene, however, the team is split, and this is where Guardians Vol. 2 hits its problems.
After stealing a bunch of really rare batteries from The Sovereigns, a race that doesn't take too kindly to you stealing their stuff, the Guardians are nearly wiped out but saved thanks to the last minute save from Peter Quill's daddy, Ego, played by Kurt Russell. The ever charming Russell is great in his first few scenes and his character starts off interesting. Who is this guy? He invites Peter to come visit his planet and says he'll explain everything and although he is reluctant at first, Peter agrees and gets into Ego's ship along with Gamora, Drax and Ego's assistant, Mantis. Leaving behind on the planet they have recently crashed on (still better than dying, thanks, Ego!) Groot, Rocket, and Gamora's sister, Nebula, who the Guardians had recently captured and were on way to turn in for the bounty.
From here Guardians becomes something of a split narrative, whereas the first film spent the time to bring the crew together and then they learned to work together, here they are split apart and one side of the film quickly becomes more interesting than another. When 'Team A' of the Guardians arrive on Ego's planet, it quickly gets really boring there. It's a big CGI planet that's boring to look at uninspired, and Ego, when his intentions are finally revealed, his story and the story happening here with Peter, it's uninteresting.
Meanwhile, Guardians (Team B, I guess) still left with the crashed ship runs into Yondu and The Ravagers and this is where the actual interesting stuff is happening. And no, it's not just because Baby Groot is running around being all cute (although he is just running around being all cute.) Michael Rooker as Yondu is the star of this movie, it's his character and his presence. He has several great moments with nearly every character in the film, and he also deals with some great personal moments like no one else does, this is Yondu's film.
The tragic sister tale of Nebula and Gamora goes to the forefront and it works great to not only expand those characters but also their Dad Thanos, emphasizing once again how ruthless he is even when raising his own daughters. Karen Gillan gets to do a lot more with Nebula here, especially compared to the first film where she seemed to be trying too hard to just play bad-ass. Zoe Saldana does more of the simple bad-ass routine this time as her romance with Peter is suddenly pushed again into a will-they-won't-they even after going through that in the first film.
Even if the script and story aren't as strong as the first film, Writer/Director James Gunn didn't falter on the humor. Whether it's Baby Groot trying to understand simple instructions, or Drax laughing his ass off as Mantis reads people's emotions, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is full of great laugh out loud moments. Dave Bautista, in particular, has hit a real stride with Drax here, and his comedic timing is perfect.
Where the first Guardians film finished with a Star Wars Esq battle with spaceships and the Guardians forming together willing to put themselves in the way of an infinity stone to so save the galaxy -- which had heart -- Vol. 2 has a boring boss battle, similarly in tone to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's a CGI mess that isn't exhilarating or as emotional as maybe Gunn wanted it to be.
Shot on the new Weapon 8K, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 looks stunning and paired with Henry Braham photographing and James Gunn stylish choices, Guardians looks nothing like the rest of the MCU. In a time when the rest of the franchise films, even the trippy Doctor Strange look to be shot on the exact same camera set-up, it's a welcome thing to have a really bright colour palette.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn't the magic of the first film, but it's still a lot of fun and if anything Baby Groot is all I need in life at the moment... It's just a pity the core story wasn't interesting.