Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a welcome return to form by Marvel. After the geographic implausibility and sheer pretentiousness of some of last year’s fare, Marvel has returned to doing what it does best. Telling a story that for all its sheer wackiness is guided along by a simple theme; namely that family is more important than anything else.
Whether it’s the main storyline of Peter’s reunion with his father, or Gamorra and Nebula’s reconnecting as sisters, family is at the heart of this film. The characters developing in a way they never did in the first film, but especially so with Nebula, whose backstory, once revealed, allows the audience to connect with her, and understand the anger she feels, not just towards Thanos, but Gamorra as well. In this, Karen Gillan is superb, delivering every word in a way that the tone drips with the hatred she feels towards almost everyone around her, while at the same time managing to get in the odd one liner that is Marvel’s stock in trade.
The rest of the cast is great as well, though special mention should go to Dave Bautista. Rewarded by the writers with the chance to do something more than simply play a laughing buffoon, he imbues Drax the Destroyer with a softer side, as the big muscleman talks of his lost love Offret (and her beautiful, beguiling refusal to ever dance at all), whilst falling for the endearingly fragile Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
[…] combining action with warmth, while mixing in heavy issues of philosophy and morality […]
The star turn however is Michael Rooker’s Yondu, who rattles out epiphany after epiphany as an impromptu counselor for Rocket, before making the kind of choice only a father could make. That’s regrettable in a way, because while it does bring together the otherwise disparate narrative, it means that when the series returns, we’ll be deprived of his character to further entertain us.
Perhaps the best aspect of Guardians Vol .2 however, is it’s none too subtle commentary on class. In an era where ‘elites’ have supposedly fallen out of touch with the common folk, the gold coloured Sovereign are a brilliant allegory. So fond of themselves and pretentious, are the Sovereign, that their precious High Priestess has her own roll out carpet for when she has to walk amongst the lesser rabble. Even down to the way they wage war as an arcade style computer game; the Sovereign may be the best commentary on class issues, since Stachel and Von Klugeman’s rivalry in the Blue Max.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 then is as much of a triumph for Marvel as the first film was, combining action with warmth, while mixing in heavy issues of philosophy and morality, in a way that much of Marvel’s more earthbound material fails to do. Hopefully the series will continue in this vein.
But in the end the meaning of life is that, sooner or later, everything’s going to turn into an extension of Kurt Russell, only to be gobbled up by a giant flying Pac man. Wakka Wakka.
By Gareth Wood