Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017) proves that its predecessor’s critical and commercial success was not a fluke. Grander, funnier, wilder – Vol. 2 is an extreme level-up in all ways it could.
The movie boasts everything you could ever hope for in a comic book adaptation: non-stop action, unprecedented humor, a committed group of actors who equally stand out in their own rights, dazzling visual effects, and above all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 plays its own strength: it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. Its ridiculous imperfections, cheeky tone and cheap thrills that work so well, it’s a rollercoaster ride straight from a comic book. The creators’ specific vision of a grungy-looking production, low-key CGI, hues of pink and blue, steam punk atmosphere translates impeccable on-screen, it almost creates its own genre. It lies somewhere between a campy yet soulful 80’s B-movie and a grandiose superhero feature that is so rare in cinemas nowadays. Its intentional imperfections are key towards an action-comedy flick that’s a high-kick close to perfect.
The cast is unstoppable; flawless comic timing to the tee, and none felt irrelevant. Every character is well-conceptualized, wisely thought, and hilariously played by an ensemble of true talents.
The production design has to be the film’s star power. Its style is so distinct, it seems that it has created its own brand. Visually cartoonish, but overall stunning – the movie is the epitome of a comic book brought to life, almost literally, and as colorful as the luminous stars and queer planets of its own universe. I would not be surprised if this movie would finally be rewarded with its overdue Visual and Special Effects, Hair and Make Up, and Art Direction accolades by the end of the year.
A few casualties, however, are quite detectable from the film’s narrative, coming off quite conventional and formulaic filled with cheesy dialogues and preachy sentiments, and ultimately predictable as the film reaches its second half. Not to mention, a Razzie-worthy performance from Kurt Russell who awkwardly plays a pivotal role, clearly carried by his costumes and the film’s CGI, but that is more of a dress-up play than a cinematic portrayal. My money for Worst Supporting Actor is on him. But at this point, it’s almost impossible to care for the film’s flaws, as the high is already explosive enough to compensate.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II is a gigantic leap from Vol. 1’s already-monumental achievement. The film’s generosity on its visual splendor and entertainment value will simply live up, or even exceed everybody’s expectations. So far, the best film of 2017.