What a long title! So I'll be shortening it by calling it GotGV2, which is also kinda long and reminds me of Game of Thrones. So nevermind, I'll just call it GG2. So let's get started!
So I'm going to preemptively apologize to all those crazy GG fans out there, because I'm about to drop a bomb here. I did NOT like Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1). I thought it was empty; and it was trying way too hard to be clever.
Now, I love Marvel. I love comic books. And I also action adventures films. So I should have liked it, but no. Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) was the worst movie of 2014 for me.
So when I walked into the theater alone on Saturday morning to check out the sequel, I wasn't expecting much. But from the fade up in the opening scene, it was very apparent that this was going to be a completely different viewing experience. After each amazing scene, I kept muttering to myself: "I can't believe I love this." Because I did! I freaking loved this movie.
And here's why!
1. It has more heart.
Something very unexpected happened to me when I watched GGv2. It was this --> What's this on my face? Are these tears?!?! During the last act of the movie, I was sitting in my squeaky theater chair crying and wishing that I brought tissues.
GGV2 relied heavily on exploring familial dynamics. StarLord's everlasting search for his father, who actually turns out to be a self-centered D-head, and the decision he has to make about having him in his life. And Gamora's strained relationship with her villainous sister, Nebula, who only wants to kill her because she's so angry that she never cared for the way a sister should. It's all very complicated! And it's all very real. These are issues that anyone would struggle with...not just people who fly around in spacesuits having cosmic battles.
2. Better character development.
Volume 2 thematically had more going for it. And each character had their own arcs that made them less cardboardy than the characters they were in the first film. The first movie was all about "Let's Get the Gang together for some crazy heist," which was problematic for me because frankly I don't care much about how awesome they are at doing what they do (or how cool the gang looks while walking in slow motion); I care more about each character and why they do what they do. This film gave me a lot of that.
Which leads me to...
3. Character redemption.
I'm a sucker for these! It must be all that Buffy I watched as a teenager. In the first GG, I didn't care at all about Yondu. Actually, I don't even remember what he did in that first movie. All I remember is that he's Merle from The Walking Dead, but painted blue.
But in Vol 2, Yondu was easily the most memorable character. Because of instead of being this villainy villain, I got to know more about him. And he wasn't pure evil at all; he was just a guy who made very different choices in his life. This, my friends, is a sign of good writing. You don't want a villain who does bad things just because; we have to understand why he does all those bad things.
In Volume 2, we're reminded that we should hate this dude because he kidnapped Peter Quill when he was a young kid and basically forced him into slave labor. Sylvester Stallone even comes into the scene to spell it all out for us. And yeah, that's totally evil. I agree with Sylvester Stallone.
But as the story goes on, we learned that all this time he didn't want to kill and eat Peter Quill all this time; Yondu was actually keeping Peter away from his d-bag father, and that this blue-skinned rapscallion actually cared for Peter like he was his own son. FAMILY, people!! Here it is! But then spoiler...
...he dies. What's a proper character redemption without his death??? These type of characters have to die eventually. Mostly because their narrative arc is completed at that point and there's no more real use for them.
And once that whole child kidnapping misunderstanding is cleared up, Sylvester Stallone returns along with the other Ravagers to give Yondu the proper send-off to celestial eternity. And there's fireworks and tears and really old Cat Stevens music, and it's really beautiful. Yondu's storyline is tied up really nice and neatly, and I am thoroughly satisfied.
4. Less Groot.
When I first heard news that Vin Diesel was going to voice Groot for GG, I thought it was great casting. Because I LOVED him in The Iron Giant, which is interesting to say because that character said pretty much nothing... But, when I met Groot onscreen for the first time, I was deeply let down. Narratively, they used Groot just like the Robot in the Iron Giant. So when Groot sacrificed himself for his friends, I was just like "Seen this. Already felt that pain in my heart!"
I know that I'm not in the majority on this, but I thought their use of his character in the sequel was just the right amount. Because less is more! But mostly, I didn't want to read "We are Groot" tweeted over and over again on my twitter feed.
I know I'm hating way too much on Groot. But I will give you Groot fans this. He is adorable. And the gag scene of little Groot trying to find the prototype weapon that will help his friends break out of their jail cell was perfect. Bravo.
Alright, THE END!!!! See you, Space Cowboy....oh wait, that's for another space story....