Let me be clear. I am the probably most critical person you’ll ever meet when it comes to deciding if the second film in a franchise lives up to the first. As it stands I maintain that there are only four film franchises that have made a sequel that truly surpasses the first: Star Wars Episode V, The Godfather: Part 2, The Dark Knight and The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. These are not just great films, but exceptional franchises, and whilst I don’t think Guardians of the Galaxy can really be mentioned in the same breath...dare I say it...Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is arguably a better film than the first. I’m not saying I’ll be buying any Star-Lord lifesize cutouts for my man den (quite yet), but heck if this isn’t a great a movie!
Here’s the Marvel rule on visuals. If the first film is a success the budget goes up... and boy did they crank it up. The cosmic visuals are spectacular not just in terms design, but scope. It’s a serious feast for the eyes, with seriously high quality world building (or Galaxy building).
I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy the Marvel films, the first one in each franchise is very samey. Mainly because Marvel writers need to stick to a very rigid ‘hero's journey’ type storyline. I have no problem with this format, but it means the writers are a little restricted.
The first Guardian’s movie was pretty straightforward; get a group of misfits together, unify them, fight the monster – Magnificent 7 in space. I’m pleased to report that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 delves deeper into the character story arcs and draws on multiple threads to create a far more complex story. It also draws more robustly on the theme of family, which, for me at least, heightens some of the drama.
It was the comedy in the first Guardians film that made it so special. None of the other Marvel movies, apart from maybe Iron Man, was particularly funny [er.... Ant Man, Deadpool? - Ed] . I don’t mean that in an overly critical way, they weren't supposed to be. The first Guardian’s film was genuinely funny, the second...not so much. The jokes felt a little forced and the balance between action and humour just felt a little off. Don’t get me wrong, Rocket and Drax have some great moments, but there were times when the comedy undercut the action and gravity of a moment, which was often distracting.
Yet despite the comedy feeling a little off at times the storyline was certainly better and the characters felt far more fleshed out. For me, this made Vol. 2 a lot better.... Maybe I will get that lifesize celebrity cutout of Star-Lord, after all.
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