Who couldn’t love Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Especially that opening sequence, recapturing everything you loved about the first film – fantastic music, action-packed space battles and stunning visuals!
The next instalment sees Peter and the gang working as heroes for hire but when Rocket steals batteries, it evokes the wrath of the Sovereign. This causes the Guardians to crash onto a planet where they are rescued by Ego, who claims to be Peter’s father.
As Gamora and Drax go off with Ego and Quill to discover his true parentage, Rocket, Groot, and Nebula are left to fight off a Ravenger attack, while Yondu is mutinied upon. Vol. 2 is a film driven by its characters rather than its plot, and if Vol. 1 was about assembling the Guardians of the Galaxy, then this film is about staying together amidst personal demons. Naturally, Ego turns out to be, well, a completely self-obsessed narcissist (what gave that away?) and tries to kill everything so the gang reunites to fight the sentient planet. Oh yeah, Ego is a planet, didn’t I mention it?
Vol. 2 splits up the gang to give everybody enough time to work through their individual stories and though some criticised this for limiting the dynamic of the collective team, I really appreciated it. I, however, found it allowed for fantastic character development and depth to be added. Nebula (played with impressive torment and ferocity by Karen Gillan) is no longer a 2-dimensional villain, rather a tragic and sympathetic victim of Thanos’ brutality. Yondu becomes more than a space pirate, as a child sold into slavery, excommunicated by his friends for relaying children (to Ego) and mutinied upon. Ego the Living Planet (played by the brilliant Kurt Russel), is a great villain who aptly fits the themes of the film.
The artistic design of this film continues to be as impressive as its predecessor, the near-psychedelic extent of these visuals might be too much for some but personally, I found it fitting for this vivid over-the-top universe Marvel has created. The space battles and ‘jumps’, character and world designs and special effects in the film were consistently flawless, continuing this franchise’s impressive sense of style that sets it apart from other films of its genre. The retro classic style of the film is reinforced by Awesome Mix Vol. 2 soundtrack (which I found to be good, but not as impressive as the soundtrack for the first film) and made obvious by the arcade design of the Sovereign fleet and Pac-Man formation in the final battle.
But what did it all mean? Did it mean anything or was it another enjoyable but empty blockbuster? Well, Vol. 2 is about hidden feelings and family, it’s about how each of the characters are presenting themselves on way on the surface when they’re really feeling another way. Gamora is hiding her feelings for Quill, Nebula wants a sister but keeps fighting her regardless, Yondu and Rocket hide their feelings for fear of being hurt.
The theme of family is the film’s unifying one, and despite conflict among the Guardians, ultimately everybody comes together and confessing they do care for each other. Gamora and Nebula make peace, Yondu posthumously becomes Quill’s honourable father figure, giving his sacrifice even more weight as his character arc and strive for redemption are completed. Only Ego negates the value of love and companionship, and the film symbolically shows that by removing (the) Ego, the value of life can be realised and you can be find meaning in the important things in life, the ones you love.