I had high expectations for this movie. The first Guardians installment ranks among my favorite Marvel films, mainly because it wasn’t afraid to blaze a different trail in the superhero movie genre.
I hoped Guardians 2 would provide the same adventurous, fun-filled ride.
**This review will be FREE of spoilers, so feel free to forge ahead if you haven’t seen the movie yet**
A Tale of Two Movies
As the end credits rolled, I turned to my girlfriend whose expression of mixed feelings mirrored my own reaction. What had we just watched? A movie that didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up.
I can’t remember watching a movie with such a stark contrast between the first and second halves. That disparity matches the mixed bag of opinions surfacing about Guardians 2.
Part 1: What’s going on?
I know a lot of people loved Guardians 2, and while I enjoyed it, I found its overall structure lacked cohesion.
The plot felt disjointed, pulled in too many directions without any clear indication which thread was driving the story. There were hints, but nothing defining. As if the writers were so absorbed in cranking out the humorous lines and playing to the strengths of the first film that they overlooked the need to create a compelling plot.
Was it fun? Sure.
Did it keep me entertained? For the most part, yes.
But I kept wondering when the main action would begin and what the point of the story was (besides the major part featuring a new character…if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about). Looking back, I see the plot arc more clearly, but in the middle of the theater the view wasn’t so apparent.
What made this problematic was the approach. The sense of mystery and uncertainty seemed accidental, not intentionally woven into the plot to keep us leaning forward and guessing where the next turn would take us.
That left the humor, disconnected story threads, and character interactions to carry the burden. All those elements worked well, but without the guiding force of a purposeful plot, the movie suffered.
Part 2: Aha! Now it makes sense and is getting cool.
Somewhere along the way, it started making sense. The pieces clicked into place, the narrative took on deeper meaning, and the story pulled me in.
Motivation became clear. Character goals crystallized. I found myself invested in what would happen.
Plot twists sent the story spinning in new directions, and through it all, the interplay among the characters became more intriguing, more moving, more compelling.
Then the story climax arrived, which I found riveting. Yes, it was a typical save-everybody-from-destruction climax (it’s a superhero movie, after all), but with a few key nuances that tweaked the formula enough to make it work. It also wrapped up certain character arcs in beautiful ways.
And in a film heavy on explosions and chases, notes of poignant drama drifted in, providing a tasteful, satisfying conclusion.
The first Guardians film filled the category of romping adventure. While Guardians 2 maintained much of the same vibe, it also drilled deeper into the characters. It’s ironic, really. In an age where superhero movies are all about the action, the big booms, and the crazy plots, the characterization in Guardians 2 stood out as the strongest element.
Certain characters received more attention this time around, with backstories that made sense and helped explain their motivations. Rather than being static chess pieces on the board, they became real, living people (aliens?) with hurts, regrets, desires, reasons for their actions.
The main five didn’t receive as much in-depth rounding to their characters. However, baby Groot. Even more adorable than advertised in the trailers.
Another strong point was the balance the movie struck between intense and calm scenes. The action didn’t overwhelm the quieter moments, and indeed, the character-driven parts were the most engaging.
Overall, Guardians 2 was good but not fantastic. Certainly not as balanced and compelling as the first movie.
Should you watch it? Absolutely…because baby Groot. If Guardians 2 taught us anything, it’s that a cute, talking sapling redeems a host of other story issues.
What did you think of Guardians of the Galaxy 2?