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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - MCU Retro Review

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: James Gunn
WRITTEN BY: James Gunn
STARRING: Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Kurt Russell (Ego), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha), Chris Sullivan (Taserface), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), and Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord)
STORY: The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage.

Leading up to the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Marvel could at least rest easy knowing that the general public had a passing familiarity with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), but a rag-tag group of intergalactic misfits few people knew about, one of whom was a talking trash-panda, might have been a tough pill to swallow. Thankfully, James Gunn pulled it off and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was a huge success. The film opened up the Marvel Cinematic Universe to an entirely new cosmos of possibilities, but as my colleague Matt Rooney mentioned in his MCU Retro Review of the film, had it failed, Marvel and Disney may not have been quite so keen to take further risks. With the surprisingly successful cat out of the bag, Marvel felt very confident in giving James Gunn the keys to do whatever the heck he wanted in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

Sequels are a tricky business. Audiences want more of what they loved about the first film, but they also want something different. There's no point rehashing what you've already done, but change too much, and you risk alienating those original fans. It's a juggling act, and although James Gunn was able to keep most of his balls in the air for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, the sequel can't quite recapture the fresh feeling of the first film. Stuffed to the brim with a groovy '70s soundtrack, extremely colourful visuals, characters we've come to love, and some rousing action, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 certainly isn't a bad film by any means, far from it, it's hugely entertaining, but there are times in which I wished that James Gunn had shown a little restraint and just let the drama play out. There are several emotional moments throughout the film which are undermined by the need to toss in some quippy remark or pop-culture reference, and it just served to take me out of the film, but only for a moment.

While it's obviously great to follow Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) on another adventure, I was grateful that James Gunn was able to devote some time to the supporting characters as well, particularly Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Even though the film is full of one-liners and sight-gags, sometimes to its detriment, I challenge you to keep from choking back tears during Yondu's final moments. Despite his gruff exterior and threats of feeding Peter to his crew ("that was being funny!"), it's obvious that Yondu has come to care deeply for his adopted son, and the Ravager ultimately proves it by sacrificing his own life to save Quill when Ego is destroyed. "He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy," said Yondu. Not a dry eye in the house. Mantis is another great addition to the GUARDIANS family, and although the character is far removed from her comic-book origins, Pom Klementieff quickly makes the role her own and you can't help but to love her as she brings a delicate mixture of comedy and deep sadness she brings to the role.

James Gunn has said that the very core of the Guardians' story is "about a group of adults who suffered childhood trauma and heal from it through their relationships with each other," and witnessing these characters grow throughout the sequel as they come to realize that they can be better is what keeps us coming back for more. The very last shot of the film (before the endless post-credit sequences) is of Rocket shedding a tear as he gazes out at the Ravengers giving Yondu a spectacular send-off, realizing that despite all of his cynicism and tendency to push people away, he's part of a family which will always love him., and that's a one hell of an inspiring message.

READ THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW!

We get another well-executed example of how well Marvel is able to pull off digital de-aging when GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 opens with a 80s-era Kurt Russell romancing Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) while rocking out to Looking Glass' "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)."

Speaking of opening scenes, the "one-shot" which plays out over the credits as Groot (Vin Diesel) dances away to "Mr. Blue Sky" while the rest of the Guardians take on the Abilisk is especially fantastic.

This one may only count as a cool moment for me, but I loved seeing Ben Browder as the Sovereign Admiral. Turns out that James Gunn is a big fan of Farscape as well and asked Browder if he'd make a cameo in the film. If the Sovereign plays a part in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, which, assuming Adam Warlock is featured, they likely will, I would hope that Gunn asks Browder back for more.

Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) various gadgets are always a treat, and when Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his Ravagers arrive on Berhert to capture the Guardians for the Sovereign, Rocket sets off a series of highly entertaining traps which take out a large group of Ravagers before they finally capture him.

Over the course of two films, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY has introduced us to plenty of incredible worlds, and VOL. 2 presents us with one of the most incredible: Ego's planet, which is actually his true form, is full of wondrous sights made all the more fantastic knowing that it's been purposefully constructed layer by layer. Thankfully, we, along with the Guardians, get a little tour of the world from Ego himself.

Once Groot finally brings Yondu his prototype fin, Rocket, Yondu, and Groot take back the ship from Taserface (Chris Sullivan) and the mutinous Ravagers in a highly memorable sequence which shows off the true power of Yondu's whistle-controlled arrow.

Yondu has a plenty of memorable moments in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, which is fortunate considering his ultimate fate, but a fan-favourite is certainly his channeling of Mary Poppins. After escaping from their ship mere moments before it's destroyed, Peter (Chris Pratt) is able to use his Aero-Rig to fly to safety, but Yondu is forced to use his arrow to float to the ground in a manner not unlike the magical English nanny. "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!"

Yondu: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy.

Drax: [to Quill] There are two types of beings in the universe, those who dance, and those who do not.

Kraglin: What are you gonna do with your share?
Nebula: As a child, my father would have Gamora and me battle one another in training. Every time my sister prevailed, my father would replace a piece of me with machinery, claiming he wanted me to be her equal. But she won... again, and again, and again, never once refraining. So after I murder my sister, I will buy a warship with every conceivable instrument of death. I will hunt my father like a dog, and I will tear him apart slowly... piece by piece, until he knows some semblance of the profound and unceasing pain I knew every single day.
Kraglin: Yeah...I was talking about, like, a pretty necklace. Or a nice hat. You know. Something to make the other girls go "Ooh, that's nice."

Peter Quill: You look like Mary Poppins.
Yondu: Is he cool?
Peter Quill: Hell yeah, he's cool.
Yondu: I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!

Drax: I have sensitive nipples.

Groot: I am Groot.
Yondu: What's that?
Rocket: He says, welcome to the frickin Guardians of the Galaxy! Only he didn't use frickin.

Ego: I don't know where I came from exactly. First thing I remember is, flickering, adrift in the cosmos, utterly and entirely alone. Over millions of years, I learned to control the molecules around me. I grew smarter and stronger, and I continued building from there, layer by layer, the very planet you walk on now. But I wanted more. I desired meaning. There must be some life out there in the universe, besides just me, I thought. So, I set myself the task of finding it. I created what I thought biological life to be like, down to the most minute detail.
Drax: Did you make a penis?
Quill: Dude!

Rocket: [snickering] I'm sorry. I am so sorry! I just keep imagining you waking up in the morning, sir, looking in the mirror and then in all seriousness saying to yourself, "You know what would be a really kick-ass name? Taserface!" That’s how I hear you in my head! What was your second choice? Scrotum Hat?

Drax: When you're ugly and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are. Beautiful people never know whom to trust.

Ayesha: That, my child, is the next step in our evolution. More powerful, more beautiful, more capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think I shall call him…Adam.

When Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Yondu (Michael Rooker), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and Groot (Vin Diesel) are making hundreds of jumps on their way to Ego's (Kurt Russell) planet, they pass through many different locations, one of which has two Kronans, the same race as THOR: RAGNAROK's Korg (Taika Waititi), battling it out. We also see a group of Watchers listening to the ramblings of Stan Lee, but more on that later.

After Ego manipulates Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) with a touch, Peter's eyes fill with stars and he gazes upwards and claims to see Eternity, which could be a reference to one of the cosmic entities who created the Infinity Stones.

As the Expansion begins taking place across the universe, we see one of Ego's "seeds" threatening to engulf the Earth in a giant blue blob which nearly envelops a mini-van before it's stop. Take a closer look at the occupant of that vehicle, and you'll find that it's actually Peter Quill's grandfather, once again played by Gregg Henry.

When the Guardians lay Yondu to rest, they place several trinkets around his body, including the blue crystal frog he took from The Broker on Xandar in the first film, as well as the Troll doll which Peter had placed in the Orb after swapping it out for the Power Stone.

Howard the Duck (Seth Green) shows up once again, this time having a laugh with a woman on Contraxia. "You're out of luck until you've gone duck!"

During the end-credits, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) from THOR: RAGNAROK can be seen dancing, and Cosmo the Spacedog also makes an appearance.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 brings back all of the Guardians we know and love from the first film, such as Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel), while also adding Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) to the team this time around. That's already an awful lot of characters, but what's the harm is tossing in a few more?

Right off of the bat, we're introduced to Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader and High Priestess of the Sovereign, a genetically engineered race who aim to be both mentally and physically impeccable. Although initially on decent terms with the Guardians after hiring them to kill the Abilisk, relations soon turned south when Rocket steals several Anulax Batteries. The Sovereign would pursue the Guardians throughout the film, but after failing to kill them on several occasions and massively depleting their resources, Ayesha created the next step in the Sovereign's evolution in order to have her vengeance on the Guardians, Adam. A sign of things to come? Hopefully.

After it was revealed that Peter was only half-human at the end of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it was only a matter of time before his father would make his grand entrance in the sequel. Ego (Kurt Russell) introduced himself after saving the Guardians from the Sovereign fleet and was reunited with his long-lost son. Cue the heartwarming music. As a Celestial, Ego is an extremely powerful and ancient being, but he's also a bit of a dick as he's planning on destroying the entire universe and transforming it into new extensions of himself. Not cool, man.

We're also introduced to Ego's delightfully quirky servant, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who ends up taking the side of the Guardians; in fact, it's thanks to her emphatic abilities that she was able to put Ego to sleep at a critical moment during the final battle. Along with the other Guardians, Mantis will be returning in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.

Sylvester Stallone enters the MCU as Stakar Ogord, a legendary Ravager captain, who, in one of the post-credit scenes, reunites with former Ravager teammates Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Mainframe (Miley Cyrus), and Krugarr.

As usual, Stan Lee makes a cameo in the film, but this particular cameo gives us an entirely new perspective on his frequent appearances throughout the MCU. Lee is seen giving a report to a group of Watchers, an ancient race which watches over the universe, and he mentions a previous cameo in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in which he was FedEx employee, thereby bringing together all of his past and future cameos. However, it's been said that this represents a continuity error as CIVIL WAR takes place two years after the events of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, but hey, who are we to think that Stan Lee needs to adhere to a linear timeline.

We're led to believe that Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) will be the main villain of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, and although the Sovereign High Priestess continue to pester the Guardians throughout the film, the real villain is revealed to be Ego (Kurt Russell), Peter's (Chris Pratt) Celestial father. At first glance, Ego is everything that Peter has been searching for, which makes it all the more tragic when we, and Peter, learn that Ego is simply using him. Over thousands of years, Ego implanted countless extensions of himself on many world's throughout the universe, and his plan, which he calls the Expansion, is to activate these seedlings and consume all of existence until he is everywhere and everything. The only problem with his plan is that he needs the energy of another Celestial to put it into motion, but as Ego believes that he was the last of his kind, this would be impossible.

Ego's solution to this problem was to impregnate thousands of female extraterrestrial species with the hopes that one of his offspring would inherit his Celestial DNA, but none of them did and so Ego killed each and every one until the appearance of Peter, who was the first to inherit Ego's Celestial genes.

IRON MAN - RETRO REVIEW

THE INCREDIBLE HULK - RETRO REVIEW

IRON MAN 2 - RETRO REVIEW

THOR - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER - RETRO REVIEW

THE AVENGERS - RETRO REVIEW

IRON MAN 3 - RETRO REVIEW

THOR: THE DARK WORLD - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER - RETRO REVIEW

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - RETRO REVIEW

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON - RETRO REVIEW

ANT-MAN - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR - RETRO REVIEW

DOCTOR STRANGE - RETRO REVIEW

Source: JoBlo.com

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