– By J.W. Fox and Paulie Spiceflow –
Marvel has done it again. Its fun space fantasy with aliens of various skin colors is racking up rave reviews from critics and audiences, while raking in over $180 million in its first week. Among its Marvel peers, it is on pace to surpass nearly all them with the exception of the two Avenger movies, and on par with Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3. As a theater experience, it is equal to the original in almost every way and worth the extra few bucks to see it in 3D.
The movie is set not long after the events of Vol. 1. The Guardians have become mercenaries, profiting from their new fame. After a job goes south, they flee to a remote planet where Peter (Starlord) meets his father Ego (Kurt Russell). Meanwhile Yandu and the Ravagers are on their tale, trying to cash in on the giant bounty placed on the Guardians. The movie centers around the big reveal of Starlord’s father and the many questions he answers.
If you strip away the space fantasy, this movie is about a dysfunctional family trying to make it work. Starlord and Rocket develop an intense sibling rivalry. Drax is sort of the honest middle child who generally stays out of the fray, and Baby Groot is the baby (duh). In other movies, Starlord and Gamora would be sort of psuedo parents to the rest but this movie went a different route, fortunately. Instead they are perceived as equals with the others, while their dynamic is more about the growing sexual tension between them.
Into this bizarre family dynamic, the movie adds Nebula, Mantis, and Yandu. Nebula, once a great villain, begins the movie as a fugitive. The brutal sister rivalry between her and Gamora is the weakest subplot in the movie. It just really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Nebula and Gamora are built up as ruthless assassins and warriors in the beginning but both shed away that persona and become more or less normal.
Mantis is Ego’s sidekick, a naive empath who has been sheltered from the universe. At first, there is some subtle parallel’s to The Tempest, with Ego being Prospero and Mantis is Miranda. The problem is the two characters never speak more than three or four words to one another. Her budding friendship with Drax was hilarious and showed a soft, vulnerable side to both characters.
Then there is Yandu, played by the awesome Michael Rooker. We left the last movie wondering who he was, hero or villain? Perhaps he was a Han Solo/Logan style anti-hero. Maybe he is just a scoundrel. Yet, his influence and role in Starlord’s early years comes into play. Without spoiling the movie: the Ego/Yandu connection is explained and an interesting subplot emerges.
At one point we were going to describe this movie as a family therapy session hidden in a space fantasy film but that sounds like a criticism. It is actually what makes these movies so special. If you like family comedies, abrupt expressions of feelings, and sensational visuals, you will absolutely love this movie. We could not help but notice nearly all the psychological or family issues are ones younger viewers will relate to, specifically adolescents and young adults.
The movie does not take itself seriously and definitely keeps the drama level at a modest level. Heavy moments are nicely broken up with jokes or lighter moments. People who like the heavier themes you find in Iron Man, Dark Knight, and Logan, will not get as much out of this movie.
For theater experience, this movie is first rate, especially in 3D. The opening scene is absolutely amazing and will hook you right away (we won’t spoil it). This movie is definitely worth seeing and may be the best sci-fi/fantasy movie of the year so far. As far as en semble sequels, Guardians Vol. 2 is better than Age of Ultron. If that isn’t enough for ya, then you don’t like superhero movies.
J. W. Fox is the Editor of Prescientscifi.com and author of two novels under the pen name Jacob Foxx: The Fifth World and the sequel The Fifth World: The Times That Try Men’s Souls. When he is not reading or writing science fiction, he works as a regulatory affairs consultant for small biotech companies in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Paulie Spiceflow is a regular contributor, movie reviewer and unbelievable smart ass. He prides himself on his excessive knowledge of movies, TV, books, internet memes, and pop cultural references. During college, he spent minimal hours studying but took full-advantage of the free internet and lack of bills to broaden his knowledge in numerous genres including spoof comedy, fantasy, Shakespeare, military history, zombies, and cartoons.