Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)


Earning a stellar reputation across the galaxy, the Guardians are hired for their services. One of their clients is Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the high priestess of the Sovereign. When Rocket decides to steal some of what they were asked to retrieve, the gang is suddenly pursued by her planet’s army. In the midst of an intergalactic pursuit, they are rescued by Ego (Kurt Russell), a Celestial who claims to be Quill’s biological father. Accompanied by his empath assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff), he takes Peter, Drax, and Gamora to his home world, which he reveals to be his Living Planet form. It doesn’t take long for the trio to realize that Ego is not as benevolent as he presents himself to be, and apparently has an ulterior motive that can only be realized with the help of his son. Meanwhile, a coup erupts within the ranks of the Ravagers causing their leader and Quill’s adoptive father Yondu (Michael Rooker) to be unseated and kept as a prisoner along with Rocket and Baby Groot.

The storyline is still focused on Quill, which is starting to get old at this point, but perhaps this is the best way to do it since he has the most interesting backstory among all the characters. The sibling rivalry subplot between Gamora and Nebula is also given ample screen time but still felt lacking. Lucky enough for Gamora, her backstory would be explored in more detail in Infinity War, while Nebula would become a pivotal character in Endgame. Even so, the latter probably deserves her own Disney+ show to fill in the gaps.

Drax is still wacky and gets a worthy partner in crime in the form of Mantis. These two are downright hilarious in a rather weird way and the audience seems to love them for it, which is a good thing. We see another layer of Rocket as his journey is juxtaposed with that of Yondu, while Baby Groot is non-consequential in the plot for now, but serves his purpose well which is to be adorable AF. As the bad guy, Ego fits the bill and Gunn does a good job in making him palatable as a character considering how complicated a being he actually turns out to be.

The highlight of the film remains to be the theme of fatherhood which is still centered on Quill. Is his biological father and the higher purpose he passes on to his son more valuable than his adoptive father who might have raised him in unorthodox ways but loved him above all else despite it not being too obvious? It is this subplot that lends some emotional gravitas to an otherwise flippant narrative that is as madcap as it is seemingly inconsequential to the MCU as a whole, even more so now that everything is so interconnected. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets to retain its franchise’s individuality in the end.

And we all know what would happen next when Infinity War and Endgame come along. Volume 3 will be an exciting sequel because we are left with the aftermath of what happened in those two Avengers films. It will have to answer many questions that many fans have been itching to ask since we last saw the Guardians in Endgame, given how their appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder doesn’t seem to add anything of value to their lore as a group. I just hope that we won't get another Quill-centered storyline.

And of course, we get that post-credits scene tease of Adam Warlock, who appears to be the big bad in the sequel. That will be another interesting development. Over all, GoTG Vol. 2, despite being focused on Quill, still adds a lot to the franchise’s appeal. With Mantis now part of the team, we can probably expect more comedy moving forward.

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