Sunday, May 07, 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Based on the comic series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revolves around the gang of misfits who travel all over outer space as they deal with new foes as well as get help from old allies and enemies while trying to find out the truth over the parentage of Peter Quill/Starlord. Written for the screen and directed by James Gunn, the film is an exploration of heroes trying to keep their family together as well as deal with those who want to tear them apart. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Chris Sullivan, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell along with the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a sprawling yet touching film from James Gunn.
The film follows the band of misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy where they take on missions as one of them has gotten the group in trouble where they’re later saved by a mysterious figure known as Ego (Kurt Russell) who is revealed to be the father of Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt). The film isn’t just about Quill learning about his father but also the Guardians dealing with this news as they try to figure what he’s about and why he’s been looking for Quill for so long. Even as they wonder why the Ravager Yondu Udonata (Michael Rooker) had kept and raised Quill for so many years as Yondu is forced to deal with the exile of being part of the main Ravagers group where he is later usurped in a mutiny after refusing to do a job in capturing the Guardians. James Gunn’s screenplay definitely carries a major theme that is prevalent through the film which is about family as the Guardians are a dysfunctional group who at times couldn’t tolerate each other but all work to try and save the universe no matter how much they get on each other’s nerves.
It’s not just Quill dealing with his feelings for the alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana) but also learning more about who he is after meeting Ego who would take him, Gamora, and the alien Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to his home planet. The character of the genetically-engineered raccoon Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) has a hard time dealing with being part of a family as he would get the Guardians in trouble with a Sovereign race whom they were supposed to work for in exchange of freeing Gamora’s estranged adopted sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). Nebula would later help Yondu’s mutinous Ravagers in capturing Rocket and the tree-like humanoid in Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) in the hopes of dealing with Gamora as the script reveal more of Nebula’s own issues with Gamora as it goes back to how their adopted father Thanos raised them.
The script also reveal a lot about Ego and what he was doing on Earth when he met Quill’s mother (Laura Haddock) as he is someone that is very powerful being with powers that can do so much as he wants to pass it on to Quill. Yet, Gamora is uneasy about Ego as well as Drax who learn more about Ego’s powers through Ego’s pet empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) whose job is to make sure Ego would sleep as she’s having a hard time doing that where she would befriend Drax. Yet, the Guardians would still have to cope with the Sovereign race led by its leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) who is very upset over the batteries that Rocket stole forcing another showdown to save the universe.
Gunn’s direction is definitely grand in terms of where much of the film is set as it is largely set in various planets and parts of the galaxy. With some of it shot around Cartersville, Georgia for a few sequences including its opening sequence involving Ego and Quill’s mother. Gunn definitely knows how to establish the characters and the story as well as create different worlds in the galaxy to play into something that is very large and what is at stake. The opening battle scene where the Guardians are trying to protect powerful batteries features a long tracking shot where all of the Guardians but Groot are fighting as Groot is dancing to some music which showcases the mixture of humor and adventure that is prevalent throughout the film. The wide shots do help play into the grandness of the galaxy and some of locations in the different planets but it also play into the world that is Ego’s planet which does have something that is very enchanting.
Gunn makes sure the film’s humor is approached very naturally while finding the time to create moments that would lead to action sequences or anything that is about the characters as he would shoot these moments with medium shots and close-ups. Notably the sequence in which Rocket and Yondu are jailed by Yondu’s men as it’s a very intimate moment revealing two individuals who are troublemakers but do have something to offer in doing what is right for the universe. That intimacy would also play into the growing friendship between Drax and Mantis as well as the complicated relationship between Gamora and Nebula where both women have to deal with what their father did to them. All of which would force many to deal with not just evil forces but also learn the importance of family no matter how dysfunctional they are. Overall, Gunn creates a thrilling and witty comedy about a gang of misfits trying to save the galaxy and deal with each other.
Cinematographer Henry Braham does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the naturalistic look of the scenes set on Earth to many of the lighting schemes and hues for some of the different planets as well as a mixture of colors in the lighting. Editors Fred Raskin and Craig Wood do nice work with the editing as it is quite stylish with its usage of montages as well as jump-cuts for some of the action without deviating too much into fast-paced cutting. Production designer Scott Chambliss, with supervising art director Ramsey Avery as well as set decorators Lauri Gaffin and Jay Hart, does amazing work with the look of the different spaceships as well as the different worlds the characters go to from the golden look of the Sovereign race to the exotic beauty of Ego’s planet. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does terrific work with the costumes from the look of the Ayesha as well as the clothes that Ego wears. Makeup artists Bill Myer and Jay Wejebe, along with hair stylist Jules Holdren, does brilliant work with the look of the characters such as some of the Ravagers as well as the look of the Sovereign race.
Visual effects supervisors Ray McMaster, Doug Spilatro, and Christopher Townsend do fantastic work with the visual effects from the design of some of the planets and some of the creatures as well as the look of Ego’s home planet. Sound designers David Acord and Addison Teague do superb work with the sound in creating some sound effects as well as create mixes to combine different sounds for the action scenes and intense sci-fi scenes. The film’s music by Tyler Bates is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music with some electronic flourishes for the action and humor while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a kick-ass soundtrack that mixes rock, soul, pop, and country that feature contributions from acts such as Electric Light Orchestra, Sweet, George Harrison, Glen Campbell, Parliament, Cheap Trick, Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, Sam Cooke, Looking Glass, Jay and the Americans, Silver, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, and a disco song by Tyler Bates and James Gunn with David Hasselhoff.
The casting by Sarah Finn is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Laura Haddock as Quill’s mother in the flashbacks, Evan Jones as a Ravager who betrays Yondu, Aaron Schwartz as the model for the young Ego, Hannah Gottesman as the Sovereign chambermaid, and the obligatory cameo from Stan Lee as an astronaut telling stories to the Watchers. Other notable small roles include Chris Sullivan as the Ravager known as Taserface who would betray Yondu as he’s very funny as is Sean Gunn in a dual-role as the on-set version of Rocket and Yondu’s loyal second-in-command Kraglin who would play an integral part of the story in helping the Guardians. Sylvester Stallone is terrific in a small but important role as Stakar Ogord as the Ravagers leader who has issues with Yondu over the things that Yondu has done as he has excommunicated him feeling that Yondu isn’t worthy to be a true Ravager. Elizabeth Debicki is wonderful as the Sovereign leader Ayesha as a golden-like woman who is quite arrogant as she becomes upset over what Rocket does as she tries to hunt the Guardians with her army.
Pom Klementieff is fantastic as Mantis as an empath who works for Ego as she can sort out people’s feelings where she is a foil of sorts for Drax due to her lack of social interaction as there’s an air of innocence to her performance. The voice performances of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are excellent with the former being the genetically-engineered raccoon Rocket who can create weapons but is afraid to be part of a family while Diesel’s voice role as Groot is very funny as the tiny tree-like humanoid who can only say the words “I am Groot” as he provides the film’s funniest moments. Karen Gillan is brilliant as Nebula as Gamora’s estranged adopted sister who has a grudge towards Gamora where she does whatever she can to kill her while realizing what is at stake with the galaxy as they both share a hatred for their adopted father Thanos. Michael Rooker is amazing as Yondu Udonata as a Ravager who copes with being exiled from the Ravagers as well as his own relationship with Quill as he learns about Quill meeting his father whom he doesn’t like.
Kurt Russell is marvelous as Ego as a powerful, God-like being who is Quill’s father as a man with cosmic powers to create anything including his own planet as there’s a complexity to Russell’s performance that is engaging but also unsettling at times. Dave Bautista is great as Drax the Destroyer as a big alien who says some very strange things yet proves to be very entertaining as he is always very funny while kicking some ass. Zoe Saldana is phenomenal as Gamora as an alien who is kind of the conscience of the group as someone who does have feelings for Quill as she is suspicious about Ego while also forcing to see the things she has done to Nebula. Finally, there’s Chris Pratt in a remarkable performance as Peter Quill/Starlord as a half-human/half-Celestial who learns about the identity of his father as he deals with issues of abandonment and family while trying to do what is right for the galaxy as he becomes torn into being with the Guardians or with his father.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a marvelous film from James Gunn. Featuring a great ensemble cast, an engaging theme on family and loyalty, gorgeous visuals, and a fun music soundtrack. The film definitely offers a lot in terms of its entertainment value with high-octane action and lots of humor as well as provide themes that audiences can relate to. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a sensational film from James Gunn.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers (2012 film)
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - (The Avengers: Infinity Wars Pt. 1) - (Ant-Man & the Wasp) - (Captain Marvel) - (The Avengers: Infinity Wars Pt. 2)
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