Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Film Review) – A Worthy Sequel

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a superhero film directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperMichael RookerKaren GillanPom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. This is the fifteenth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and takes place right after the events of Guardians of the Galaxy. In Vol. 2, we focus on how the team are coping with their status as Guardians while also delving deeper into the parentage of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).

My Knowledge and Expectation of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My expectations for this film were extremely high…until last week. I should set this review up by stating that, while I have enjoyed most of the films that I have seen in the MCU, they are disposable. The reason for this is down to the fact that I did not grow up with the characters in the MCU. I never read the comics or watched the animated shows. As a result, I do not have an emotional connection to the characters in the MCU and, consequently, no emotional connection to the films.

However, my favourite film in the MCU is Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved the humour and the fact that the film was completely separate from the rest of the films in the MCU. It worked as a standalone superhero film and I was eagerly anticipating Vol. 2 as I would be reunited with the characters I love such as Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) who is now in baby form.

Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Yet, early reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tempered my expectations slightly. While the majority were good, I interpreted a consensus that Vol. 2 was not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy. As a result, I was expecting a good, entertaining experience rather than a near-flawless film.

My Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Overall, I found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be a tremendously enjoyable and a worthy sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. While not as good as the original, there was a lot to love about Vol. 2. For instance, I found the humour in this film to be brilliant. Drax was the character who provided most of the film’s funniest moments but the chemistry between the entire ensemble cast was a big factor in how funny this film was. You can tell that the cast had a great time making this film and it benefited the quality of it in the process.

The use of music was another element of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that worked very well. For me, the highlights were the use of Mr. Blue Sky’ in the opening scene and I liked the re-occurrence of The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac throughout the film. I was a bit disappointed that ‘Fox on the Run’ was not in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 after its use for the films’ trailer. However, that is a very small nit-pick and it did not worsen my experience.

I also thought that the visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were vibrant and they really added to the fantastic viewing experience I had. In terms of character development, while I found Peter Quill’s arc to be good and at times quite poignant, it was surprisingly Yondu (Michael Rooker) who was developed as a character to the best extent. That was one of the nicest surprises in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Still, it is a film which could not recapture the freshness of the original.

Yondu and Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But, in hindsight, it was a difficult task for James Gunn to recapture the originality and freshness that Guardians of the Galaxy had. Vol 2. also has a story which is more incoherent than its predecessor and the second act is a bit slow. I also thought that Karen Gillan gave a performance as Nebula which was a bit over-the-top.

Yet, as I have said, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a worthy sequel and a worthy entry in the MCU. I cannot wait to see the Guardians show up in future Marvel films. Additionally, I am really pleased that James Gunn is returning for a third Guardians of the Galaxy film which will hopefully provide the same amount of enjoyment I had with Vol. 2.

Doctor Strange (Film Review) – Unique and Familiar

Doctor Strange is a superhero film directed by Scott Derrickson which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who suffers a tragic car accident which ends his career and guides him down a desperate path which eventually leads him to studying the mystic arts from the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. This is the fourteenth film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and I was curious to see if Marvel could continue its streak of making consistently good films.

The Ancient One teaches the Mystic Arts to Doctor Strange

My Thoughts on Doctor Strange

I am pleased to say that they have and they have done it in a very unique but familiar way. The uniqueness of Doctor Strange is purely down to its stunning visuals. Honestly, I struggle to think of another film which has better visual effects than Doctor Strange. It is like Inception but on steroids and LSD.

Watching Doctor Strange was an enthralling experience and some of the things which are set up in this film are very new and have the potential to take the MCU in a very strange direction (I promise no pun was intended!). I also thought that the performances in this film were excellent across the board, particularly from Cumberbatch and Swinton. Still, good performances in an MCU film are a normal expectation nowadays.

This brings us unto the elements of Doctor Strange which feel very familiar in a MCU film. Firstly, the humour in this film was, for the most part, very good. Secondly, the structure of this film was very formulaic but well executed in terms of telling an origin story. These were the positive aspects of the film which felt familiar.

Again, A Weak Villain

However, the negative aspect of this familiarity was that the villain, played by Mads Mikkelsen was very forgettable. While this is the norm in MCU films, it was a real shame considering that Mikkelsen has played really captivating antagonists in the past such as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. He felt a bit wasted in this film.

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius in Doctor Strange

Still, weak villains in the MCU have not hugely affected the overall quality of MCU films in the past and they are not about to with Doctor Strange. Overall, Doctor Strange has some unique, new and exciting elements which elevate the film to a place where its familiar aspects, both positive and negative, do not diminish the quality of the film. For me personally, this is a very good film which I would highly recommend to both hardcore and casual fans of the MCU.