This review contains spoilers – journey down the black hole at your own risk.
BEIRUT: The problem with franchises is that at some point the narratives being told start to feel formulaic and almost like the same old story.
Though, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 manages to further the emotional curve of the characters, when analyzed a little deeper, it’s nothing more than the typical Marvel Super Hero Formula.
Misfit super hero team who were thought to have united at the end of the first film, realize that they still have issues, and fix them just in time to beat another megalomaniac villain who wants to destroy the universe.
In Guardians’ defense, the film offers answers to questions posed in the first volume and builds upon the characters and who they are individually as well as together.
These, however, only make up a minor part of the film which has random slapstick sequences, and asks more questions in regards to the bigger arc of the narrative, whatever that may be.
Hitting on the theme of family, the film’s protagonists struggle to come to terms with the fact that they are now a unit as egos get in the way and childhood scars turn into weaknesses.
The most interesting of those scars relates to the team’s leader Peter Quill, played beyond charismatically by the loveable Chris Pratt, who discovers his origins and the identity of his father that leads to an almost “No!” response.
It should if any have seen the original Star Wars films. This entry in the series is essentially Guardians’ version of Empire Strikes Back.
It’s darker, more focused on the emotions, slower pace, a beloved character meets their demise in a frozen manner, and the film’s final shot that sees Quill place his arm around Gamora as they watch fireworks from the glass window of their ship.
And if that isn’t proof enough, check out the poster released by Marvel in comparison to the poster of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
Unlike Empire Strikes Back, however, the father-son arc ends in this film upon the discovery that the perfect father is actually a celestial hell bent on keeping his immortality through spreading himself to all planets in the galaxy.
That’s a tall order to fight against, yet the Guardians pull it off anyway because sequels need to be made.
Yet, let’s not get hasty and proclaim that Guardians is a replica because it is not and that would be doing the film a great disservice.
For being a film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians sure does look very different. In many ways is the cool uncle in the semi-lame and routine filled family that has now become the MCU.
Visually the film’s color palette and production design is imaginative and unique, and the characters themselves are memorable and engage with their audience. From laughter, to worry, the audience is in for the hyperactive flamboyant ride, cheering for their favorite characters’ wins, and tearing up over the characters’ losses.
Director James Gunn has already publically announced that he will be directing Vol.3, which makes this also very unique when it comes to the cinematic universe.
Aside from Joss Whedon, Gunn will be the first director to helm three Marvel films, and this is a great thing for the series, for its voice and vision will remain homogenous.
Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t just define itself by its loveable characters, or its vibrant images, it does so as well through its fantastic music selections, a.k.a it’s Mixtapes.
Including such great hits like Brandy by Looking Glass, Father and Son by Cat Stevens, and Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, the film’s soundtrack is as effervescent as its narrative.
As a complete product, this latest entry in the Guardians of the Galaxy saga does its job as a sequel, though loosely borrowing from a distant cousin from a galaxy far, far away.
It’s audibly entertaining, emotionally satisfying, and visually appetizing.
Alan Mehanna is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. He received his MFA in Screenwriting from Full Sail University. He is also a film instructor at the American University of Science and Technology and Antonine University.
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