Last night I made it to the earliest showing I could for the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. Here is your spoiler free review!
I remember when the first one came out just about everyone I knew (including me) were saying how this could be Marvel's first flop. When they first announced it, my reaction was... well... this:
Of all the characters and teams that Marvel has access to, they picked these losers to make a movie with? A talking racoon? A walking tree? And the guy from Parks and Rec as the lead? Really?!?
And yet, they pulled it off, and it was Awesome. It was colorful, and it was fun, and it just took the goofiness of the comics and ran with it. I loved it. (I'd link to my glowing review, but I didn't write one.) So much so that I saw it in the theaters 3 times.
So it was with some trepidation and a lot of hope that I watched the first trailers for volume 2, and then avoided any and all spoilers as best I could, and I'm glad I did. They set a high bar, and I wasn't sure if, lacking the element of surprise the first one had, they could even match it, let alone try to top it. I lowered the bar a little because of this. Sequels are almost never better than the original...
So what do you get with GotGv2? Much of the same as in the first movie. Same cast, including Yondu and the Ravagers, Nebula, and a few delightful cameos from the first movie. You get (sometimes jarring) color, radio classics from the 70s and early 80s (maybe not quite as tight a mix as volume 1), fun ridiculous fights in outlandishly bizarre locations.
You also get a lot of daddy/family issues, and not just from Peter/Star Lord. Gamora and Nebula have their share they need to work out. Rocket's working through some shit. Drax still suffers from the loss of his family. And of course you have the whole team working everything out with their own intertwined relationships. Never easy with a band of misfits used to working alone like these guys.
Added to the mix are a few new characters, including Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff who is a delightful addition to the cast. I really enjoyed watching her and Drax play off each other. I also like that Kraglin Obfonteri, played by the highly entertaining Sean Gunn got a fair bit more screen time this time around. I'm pretty sure he's still just playing Kirk from Gilmore Girls, but... that works for me in the same way Jeff Goldblum always basically plays himself in everything.
Overall I really liked Vol. 2. After one viewing I can say it at least hit the bar I'd hoped for. As to whether it is better than the original... Hard to say. I will say that I'm going to see it again next weekend, if only to catch the lines that I missed because of people laughing and clapping!!