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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

August 20th, 2017

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was the second biggest hit of the summer and the third biggest hit of 2017 so far. It is also part of the MCU and there hasn’t been a truly bad movie in the MCU so far. Spoiler alert: This movie doesn’t break the winning streak. However, it could be a really good movie and still not live up to the original. Is that the case? Or can Vol 2 outshine the first installment?

On a side note, Amazon and Disney have been in a pissing war for almost exactly three years now. It has been three years since Amazon stopped pre-orders for Disney films over a pricing dispute. This is such a long time that at this point, I’m not even sure either side remembers they are still fighting. Clearly neither side is big enough to put a scratch in the overall business either of them does.

The Movie

The film begins in 1980 on Earth where we see a young Meredith Quill madly in love with a young Snake Plissken. (It’s not actually Snake Plissken, but we don’t learn the name in the prologue.)

Flash forward 34 years and we meet up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are on the home planet of the Sovereign, one of the most egotistical species around. They have batteries that are very valuable, so much so that Nebula previously tried to steal them. The Sovereign captured her and are willing to hand her over to the Guardians of the Galaxy, if the Guardians of the Galaxy can defend the batteries from an intergalactic monster that attacks them. They succeed, but Rocket decides to steal a few for himself, because they are worth a lot and because the Sovereign are really arrogant, especially their leader, Ayesha.

Obviously this goes wrong, but the speed at which is goes wrong is actually impressive. (They barely get out of the planet’s atmosphere before they are attacked.) The Guardians do get away, barely, not because the Sovereign are that deadly, but because Rocket and Peter Quill get into a pissing match and both try to pilot their space ship through a quantum asteroid field. They would have died, except for a strange man riding on top of a spaceship who helps them at the last minute and they still crash land on a nearby planet. Gamora yells at Peter and Rocket for nearly getting them killed. They are still arguing when a spaceship lands. It’s the man who saved them and his assistant, Mantis. That man is Ego and he’s Peter’s father.

At this point, the plot splits and I’m going to go with character order and no how we see it in the movie. Peter, Gamora, and Drax go with Ego and Mantis, so that Ego can tell Peter about his heritage. At first, Peter doesn’t buy it, but Gamora convinces him to give Ego a chance. Rocket stays with Baby Groot and Nebula and he tries to repair the ship. The three of them should be safe there, because no one knows where they are. ... For now.

Meanwhile on Contraxia, we meet up with Yondu and his crew. There Yondo sees one of the head Ravager, or Ravengers, depending on who you are talking to. (This is a reference to one of my favorite outtakes.) Stakar Ogord is one of the people who exiled Yondu for the crime of child trafficking. Remember, Yondu is the one who grabbed Peter as a child. Yondu claims he didn’t know what was happening when he took the job, so he shouldn’t be punished, but his crew is exiled nonetheless. This exchange is yet another reason why Taserface thinks Yondu has gone soft and thinks there needs to be a new leadership. Kraglin defends Yondu, but if the crew’s fortunes don’t turn around soon, there might be a mutiny. It is then that Ayesha arrives. She has come in person to hire a crew to get the Guardians of the Galaxy and she is hiring Yondo.

I think we’ve hit the edge of spoilers, so I’m going to stop the plot summary there.

Before we get into the review, I’m going to talk about a particular controversy the film has gotten into. It involves spoilers, so there’s a lot white text ahead. In the movie, Drax and Mantis begin a relationship. However, Drax repeatedly calls Mantis ugly and this has upset more than a few people. I can see both sides on this one. On the one hand, I would be surprised if less than 90% of the women watching the movie didn’t have a similar experience at least once. It’s sadly common for men of a certain type to hit on a women, then call her ugly if she turns them down. Furthermore, Mantis is in an emotionally abusive relationship with Ego, which makes her vulnerable to this kind of abuse from another. I get why a lot of people would have a problem with this. That said, I think I understand the original intent. It is impossible to know for sure what James Gunn was thinking when he wrote that, but I think it is a comment on interspecies romance, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense most of the time. What one species would find attractive is very different to what another species would find attractive. We never actually saw Hovat, Drax’s wife, but I bet she doesn’t look a lot like Mantis. Mantis’s skin would be too smooth and her antenna would look like deformities and I’m willing to bet she’s no where near as muscular as Hovat was. Drax would not see her as beautiful, at least not physically. It also fits in with the overall theme of the movie, which is overcoming abuse to learn to love again. That sounds corny when you write it out like that, but it really works in the movie itself.

As for the quality of the movie, I actually think Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is better than the original, if you excuse the one issue that would be impossible to overcome. The first Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere and surprised people due to its strange nature and it would be impossible for Volume 2 to feel as fresh as the original did. That said, Volume 2 also has some advantages. The characters are more established and that allows for deeper connections and that really helps the message of family come through. It also means the film has more time for the action, the humor, scale and scope. (Although part of me does like it when super hero movies don’t have the end of the world as their central plot. A more personal conflict can also work.) The film is colorful and a pleasure to look at, while it manages to be emotional in all the right places.

Strangely, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a lot more disconnected to the MCU than first film was. The plot doesn’t have to take any detours to connect this film to others in the MCU and that has been a problem for a few films in the mega-franchise. It doesn't even setup next year’s Avengers movie in any of the five post-credit scenes. ... Yes, there are five post credit scenes. Most of them are little more than jokes, while a couple could be setting up Volume 3, depending on where the plot goes.

The Extras

Extras start with an audio commentary track with writer / director James Gunn, who also shows up in a short optional intro. Up next is a multi-part, nearly 40-minute long making of featurette. Parts focus on the locations, on the characters, and of course the music. Speaking of music, there’s a music video for... nope. I can’t put into words what the music video is, you have to experience it for yourself. There are four minutes of outtakes and six minutes of deleted scenes. It’s not a lot of extras for a monster hit, but enough to be worth picking up.

The Verdict

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is yet another hit in the MCU. In fact, I like the movie more than I liked the first film, although I will admit I am in the minority here. Extras on the DVD, Blu-ray, etc. are not as good as its box office would indicate, but it is still Pick of the Week material.

Filed under: Video Review, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, James Gunn, Sean Gunn, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Zoe Saldana, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Debicki, Laura Haddock, Dave Bautista, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan