Can a film be a glorious b-movie trashfest, filled with mind-numbing VFX, a talking racoon, a barely comprehensible Sly and at the same time elevate its story, its characters and even -in some cases- the performances to almost SW:TESB-levels?
You bet yo sweet ass boy!!
GotG:Volume 2 is as close as you can get to the perfect sequel. The action is toned up, the stakes are higher and the characters are now much more complicated and intriguing. The writer/director James Gunn decided to crank things up to 11 with some aspects of this flick, but that’s not just in the visual field. Luckily for us, he also wrote the movie, which is strikingly visible throughout the entire length of this feast-for-your-eyes. One can clearly see the visual pandemonium inherited from Dr. Strange (which has a BS metacritic score of 72%, higher than GotG:Volume 2 with only half the story, half the performances, half the stakes and quadruple VFX!).
I do not want to spoil anything about the movie, which would be a shame since it deserves to be seen on the big screen, not just for the visual bonanza, but for the story. I will, however, explain why this movie is in my opinion the best part of the MCU so far. See, in ALL the previous ones the stakes were non-existent! In the minds of Disney execs – and NOT screenwriters/directors – nobody ever was in real danger, it’s the freagin MCU in the end and we can’t off Cap or Thor without having every kid on the planet in tears (also, that would seriously hurt the merch thing we’re running on the side…). This alone makes all other MCU entries irrelevant and hollow.
I understand and accept the fact that Marvel is attempting to tell one of the largest, longest, most complicated stories in human history so far, I fully do. But in their attempt to bring this monster to life, some of the main ingredients of a good story went missing. One of them was the completion of it. We are still waiting for this whole thing to reach a final resolution, so we can absorb the meaning, process it, evaluate it, make it part of our common lore and move on to the next one, hopefully ever so wiser. GotG:Volume 2 is…breaking the chain in this vicious circle – I know, you’ll hate me for the pun there, but fuckin hell, that song was used brilliant!!
GotG:Volume 2 is not an in-between or a prep movie for the next feature in the MCU. It’s not convoluted and full of obscure references that can only be decrypted if you’re a huge comic geek (OK, maybe there are a few ones there…I digress). It’s not trying to introduce new characters that will play some significant part ONLY in a FUTURE film, it’s not even making reference to any other films or characters from the MCU. In its unique position in this vast epic that is the MCU, the Guardians stand alone on the sidelines – so far – and thus have the privilege to tell their own story as fully and as best as they can. You can see that this was not a committee-made movie: it has flaws and stupid moments, it can become unbalanced sometimes and to -its credit- it will do all that with the best intentions.
And the other element that is still missing in the MCU is heart. Emotions. A bloody connection with the people/aliens/demigods or anything else we see on the screen, that will make us leave the theater and say: Damn, that was intense!
In this movie that connection comes in the form of a blue cyberpunk character with the coolest weapon in cinematic history – yes, I went there! Fuck laser-swords! – and a british nanny.