A few years ago, the idea of Guardians of the Galaxy was seen as a risk by Marvel that likely wouldn’t pay off. After all, a talking tree and raccoon…really? In the end, though, we were both pleasantly wrong and surprised. Director James Gunn gave us a fun and epic space opera that continues to entertain today. Ask any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Guardians ranks as probably the best film (if not top 2 or 3) of the franchise. So with such huge success, a sequel was warranted and got the green light. But, with high expectations, can Vol 2 live up to the hype?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 has probably one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen in a film in a very long time. From the start, you can tell that Gunn has taken the visuals to another level in this film and that the lightheartedness and fun of the previous film still takes center stage. It may have lasted a tad longer than it should have, but it was still a masterpiece to see. What makes this film (and its predecessor) so good is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and allows the viewer to just sit back and enjoy the ride. But don’t let that fool you. What makes the sequel better is that the story goes much deeper than the original in the midst of all the fun. The film’s lightheartedness, bright and colorful scenery and background still has time to slow down and pull at the heartstrings of the audience. And best of all, it wasn’t a setup for other films. Unlike other entries into the MCU, Vol. 2 truly stands on its own.
As we discovered in the first film, the Guardians aren’t your prototypical heroes. In Vol. 2, we continue to see their disfunction as a group but different events throughout the film bring them closer together than ever before. Throughout the film, they battle their own insecurities knocking down emotional, spiritual and even physical walls. They are more than friends. Over time, they have become family. With each member coming from a broken background or tragedy, they teach us that family isn’t just about blood. We don’t get to choose our blood relatives and sometimes that means we got dealt a bad batch. However, our kin doesn’t define who we are. Maybe we’re searching for a father figure even though our real dad is right there. Maybe we are looking to feel emotions that we’ve never felt or lashing out because all you wanted was a sister or a brother. Maybe you just think that love is something you can never have and believe that everyone will throw you away eventually, leaving your hurt and angry all the time. Real family, when you find it, brings you the true purpose, not some false ideal that someone else tried to force on you. Though our father, mother, friends, brothers, sisters may all forsake us, we are reminded of Psalm 27:10 and take heart in knowing that the Lord will take us in.
Can we fall so far away that we can’t be redeemed? Simply put, no… but it is our choice whether or not we want to come back from that pit. In this film, different characters are left with that choice and while some followed the path to destruction, others followed the path to redemption. There is a part in the film that captures visually my imagination of what it feels like to truly be redeemed in heaven. A real bright, colorful, fireworks display of celebration that can do nothing more than bring joy to your heart and a tear to the eye. It was a great job in taking these characters and expanding their development and showing true growth.
Of course, we can’t end without talking about little Baby Groot. Many felt that he was left this way for toy sales and (even though Gunn denies it), it is probably true. However, we can’t complain that he was left this way. Yes he was adorable, but it fit the overall theme of the film and didn’t feel like it was forced in order to sell more toys. Without question, he is going to be the favorite of many coming out of this film (as if he isn’t already) but, looking at the film as a whole, you realize that he truly fits the overall theme of family and redemption.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now playing in theatres.