Director: James Gunn
Runtime: 136 minutes
Surprises are fun, aren’t they? I have never been lucky enough to be thrown a surprise birthday party, and I am far too annoyingly curious to ever be given one, but I can imagine the pure joy of the completely unexpected positive experience it must bring. I find that, like a surprise party, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy exploded onto screens out of the blue, in a glorious storm of confetti and upbeat ’80s hits. It was loud, it was unexpected and, most of all, fun. And of course, with such spectacle and praise, a sequel was immediately in the works.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reminds me less of a surprise party, and more like my annual Eurovision event. Everyone knows what to expect—some things vary from year to year but, essentially, we get the gist of what’s going to happen. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. There are still sequins, laughter, and terrible European music. Your appreciation for this sequel is dependent on your expectations. Is there a delightfully cheesy retro soundtrack? Yes. Do we spend more time with beloved characters? Definitely. Is there humour, hijinks, and everything in between? It’s a resounding yes from me. The film relishes in its gooey retro euphoria. It’s loud, bright, and blazing. I could do a short description of the plot, but I don’t really see the point. The pure joy of Guardians lies in the experience—they take you for a ride and you really enjoy it.
One of the highlights of the film is its visual effects. This is a film that is just plain pretty—you could mute it, put it on your TV, and have it cycle through its colourful imagery to liven up your living room. It’s nice to see a film that celebrates the 10-year-old in us, where space isn’t a void in which screams disappear into a vacuum, but instead a universe of opportunity. Director James Gunn did not hold back with his colour palette, and in doing so, made every frame a joy to behold.
It is important to note that the film can never recapture the joy of our 2014 selves. We cannot experience the first film for the first time again. I find most negative reviews of this film are born from frustrations that director James Gunn cannot surprise us any more. Vol. 2 feels less like a sequel made to surprise audiences and surpass its predecessor, and more like a continuation of a story. Much like a comic from your childhood, you know you can pick it up, continue with beloved characters, and escape into a world you are familiar with. While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did not blow me away, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My advice? Sit down, strap in, and don’t let memories of past excitement stop you from enjoying the warm comfort of something just plain enjoyable.