‘Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2’ is an awesome mixtape of comedy, characters

Photo Courtesy of IMDB

When “Guardians of the Galaxy” flew into theaters in 2014 and had all of America hooked on a feeling, it almost defined a new genre for action blockbusters. Its emphasis on humor and its odd and goofy style spawned many imitators in the coming years. That is why it comes as a wild and pleasant surprise that “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” is so drastically different than the first.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” is a character-driven movie through and through. Its structure and pacing are just as odd as its colorful cast of characters. Not to say either of those elements are bad in the film, they are just produced in an unorthodox manner. Many complaints have been made that both the tone of the film and the pacing are uneven. However, what viewers seem to miss is that the pacing works as more of a vehicle to explore the motivations and decisions of the characters rather than the overall plot of the film. This is quite a different approach in general, especially for a big budget Marvel movie, and it’s certainly a different approach than that of its predecessor. Fortunately, the characters’ motivations are the heart of the film, and this perfectly complements the way that the structure and pacing are designed to linger on said motivations. The structure allows the audience to linger on these characters in a more intimate and, at the same time, relaxed manner than most action films.

Despite its difference from the first movie in structure and pacing, the humor is, thankfully, very similar. The Guardian’s quick quips and back-and-forth banter prove to be just as cleverly timed and written as in the first film, if not more so. The jokes fly by as fast as a genetically enhanced raccoon with a jetpack, and every joke is just as strange as that image. Most impressively, all of the humor reflects the personalities and the perceptions of the characters, and it rarely seems forced or out of place. “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” is a surprisingly emotional film as well, and director James Gunn deftly combines the humorous and satirical with the emotional and profound. Each character’s somewhat tragic backstory compliments the way the story progresses and the way that the misfits interact with one another. Gunn takes his time in this sequel to provide each character with an arc that builds on the last film’s development and allows the identities of our heroes to be deeply explored. It also doesn’t hurt that each actor produces an enigmatic and entertaining performance. From the comedic timing to the more dramatic stings, Chris Pratt and company play off each other exceptionally well.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” also has the distinct pleasure of having a villain that actually impacts the emotional development of the story and characters, unlike most Marvel films. In Marvel’s relatively impressive track record of well-made films, one of the studio’s major flaws are the villains. Generally, in a Marvel film, the villain will be some guy who wants to destroy the world because he’s a bad guy. And that’s about it. In “Volume 2,” the Guardians face a nemesis that is both deeply connected to the characters and interesting to watch. That’s about all that can be said without spoilers, but the villain is just a blast to behold.

Another element that Gunn has almost seamlessly weaved into the film is the soundtrack. Everyone who was a fan of the first film can attest to the way both the soundtrack and score enhanced the film in a way that did not feel forced. The second movie is no different in this aspect. The soundtrack is inserted into the film in a way that affects the story and the characters, and it actually carries some emotional weight for our main character, Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord. Tyler Bates, the composer of the score, holds nothing back in creating a memorable score that easily bounces between emotional flourishes and working to create an intriguing atmosphere.

The action in the film is also quite impressive. Dazzling special effects and strange sci-fi set pieces mash together to create some of the most fun and entertaining action sequences that one can see in a modern blockbuster. Tiny baby trees brutally murdering ravagers, celestial, god-like beings doing battle and intergalactic spaceship fights. What more exciting weirdness could you need in a film called “Guardians of the Galaxy?”

Throughout his career, Gunn has worked to create visuals just as interesting as the characters he writes, and this film is no exception. The camera work and the attention to detail in the special effects can be breathtaking. Unlike other lesser Marvel films, it’s less about simply getting the shot and more about getting the shot in a creative way. From looming and stark landscape shots to action packed slo-mo’s, the cinematography is far from boring in the movie.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” amps up everything that made the first one so enjoyable while delving deeper into the colorful characters that made the first one so memorable. In the world of action blockbusters and sequels, it’s refreshing to see something so boldly and unapologetically different. The movie never tries to be something it’s not and it’s like nothing else Marvel has to offer. The Guardians world is so full of color and imagination, and it is obvious that the script was penned with great care for both the audience and the characters. Guardians, it was Groot to have you back.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Wesley McIntyre, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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