Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Its Similarities To The Empire Strikes Back

GOTGV2 as Empire Strikes Back

Many people who have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (GOTGV2) have noted that the film, whether they enjoyed it or not, has a different tone than the original film. Some have even gone so far as to claim this sequel is to the first Guardians of the Galaxy film as The Empire Strikes Back was to the first Star Wars film. The reason for this opinion has to do with the more adult and darker mood oozing throughout Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 despite all the jokes and action. Is this a valid way to look at the movie? Consider the following and it goes without saying that major spoilers will be revealed…

Separate Ways

In the second Guardians film, the title characters split up and go off on their own separate adventures in smaller groups and meet other people. Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord takes off with Gamora and Drax to join his newly found father Ego and later meets Mantis. When they leave with Peter’s father, Rocket Raccoon and Baby Groot are left with Gamora’s sister Nebula (who is at this point a prisoner instead of a full-fledged Guardian). The remaining trio then meet up with Yondu and his Ravagers. This encounter leads to Yondu’s powerful story arc, while Peter learns about his heritage.

A similar plot device was used in The Empire Strikes Back where after abandoning the Rebel base on Hoth, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 go to Dagobah and meet the Jedi Master Yoda. As this happens, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca and C-3P0 spend most of the film evading Darth Vader and his imperial forces. Eventually they meet up with Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian. Both groups are changed forever by their separate adventures just like in GOTGV2.

Deeper Characters

Even though some people have issues with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, these critics agree with fans that the second film does a better job of exploring the characters. Writer and director James Gunn took time to delve deeper into what makes the core group and the supporting characters tick. By the time the film finishes we understand the Guardians and their associates much more than in the original film. They are no longer stock character types. Instead, they are more rounded and we know how and why they act and feel like they do. This leaves us with more relatable and believable characters who enhanced our enjoyment of the film.

The same thing occurs in The Empire Strikes Back. Everyone loves the second Star Wars film for its focus on the characters and making us care more about them. From joining Luke in his painful spiritual journey to understand the Force and the ways of the Jedi, to observing the growing love Han and Leia have for each other. In both films, while the dazzling special effects and sounds are out of this world, what we take away from the viewing experience is our love of the characters.

Fathers and Sons

The main character and story arc in GOTGV2 is Peter Quill’s relationship with Ego. Before meeting him, Peter and the audience did not have any idea of who his father was. When the two men meet it’s a joyful reunion as Ego fills in Peter about where he came from. Naturally, Star-Lord is excited to learn that he is a demigod. But sadly, the occasion turns sour when Peter and his friends discover Ego’s true nature and plans. The man is actually a monster who murdered not just his own children, but Peter’s mother. To make matters worse, Ego has plans to massacre countless people throughout the galaxy in order to spread his seeds.

Ego and Guardians

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The Heart and Soul Of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2


GOTGV2 poster

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (GOTGV2) is exploding onto screens everywhere and kicks off the summer season with a big blast that goes for the heart. For those keeping count the sequel to the hit film Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest offering from Marvel Studios and its popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Like most sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 tries to outdo the original, despite what writer and director James Gunn claims. It does not quite get there but like a true, notable sequel it sets out to be different and in that aspect Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 succeeds so overwhelmingly.

The film takes place shortly after the last film as the Guardians of the Galaxy are doing mercenary work for a galactic civilization called the Sovereign. The opening credits showcase the galactic misfits at their very best and reunite audiences with the loveable bunch. The team includes Earthling Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), former assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the too-literal Drax (Dave Bautista), the cybernetically enhanced Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the tiny plant being Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Right off the bat the adorable Baby Groot steals the spotlight with his oh-so-cute antics as the rest of the Guardians fight this gigantic monster squid thing. His scenes throughout the film will bring many “Awwws” and laughs and sure he is an obvious merchandising wonder, but Baby Groot is just so endearing that only truly embittered grouches will mind him.

baby groot and bomb

As with the previous film, GOTGV2 starts off with a toe-tapping soundtrack of oldies but goodies during the opening credits. The selection of songs is quite good, but unlike the original which featured some rousing classics, the songs for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 are more reflective of the film’s themes.

This film is quite exciting and funny, in fact, many skits and jokes outperform the original. However, one drawback it has when compared to the original is that its main plot meanders at times. There is a story, and it deeply affects our heroes, but GOTGV2 focuses more on character. The plot isn’t as important to the film as is exploring the heart and soul of the Guardians.

Without revealing too much, the Guardians go on the run from the Sovereign because Rocket stole some batteries from them. The Sovereign are a snooty bunch of religious fanatics who are deeply offended that Rocket stole from them and start hunting down the Guardians.

Peter quill and ego

As our heroes evade the Sovereign they also have to deal with their old foes the space pirates called the Ravagers and Peter Quill meets his father, Ego (Kurt Russell). Encountering his father leads to Peter on a journey of self discovery as he learns about his true, half-alien heritage. Meanwhile, the other members of the team come to realize some truths about themselves and how they feel about others. During all this self-reflection the Guardians of the Galaxy stumble upon a terrible revelation that threatens the entire galaxy.

Rocket and baby Groot

Whereas, the first Guardians of the Galaxy was a great big adventure that kept building up to a climax and had a clear villain, this sequel has a different approach. GOTGV2 starts off as another whacky day filled with thrills, jokes and putdowns, but the pace lets up in the middle. This sacrifice in momentum and pace was done to give the characters development that adds dimension to them. It may turn off some people expecting a retread of the first film, but others will appreciate the successful efforts to develop not just the main characters, but returning supporting characters.

The central theme Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 focuses heavily on is that of family and friendship. Peter Quill and the others are given time to reflect on family and what that concept means to them. Sometimes these ponderings and musings are too on the nose and are part of the reason the film’s pace slows, but in the end, they help us to care more about the characters. More importantly their growth as characters are more genuine and earned. On the whole, this different atmosphere gives the film a more mature tone with appropriate heart-tugging moments.

The one standout character who benefits from the film’s tone is the Ravager leader Yondu (well played by Michael Rooker). His character is unexpectedly more developed and he is allowed to show that underneath his tough exterior he has a heart that redeems him. The scenes with him and Rocket run the gamut from hysterically funny to poignant as their souls are laid bare to each other. They make a terrific team and are some of the film’s highlights.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-Yondu-and-Rocket

Even the film’s villain is given screen time to show different characteristics. Unlike the first film’s one-dimensional Ronan, the villain of GOTGV2, who is eventually revealed later in the film, is a more interesting character which allows the final confrontation with the heroes to feel more personal. The gradual unveiling of the villain is another reason for the sequel’s slower tone, whereas with Ronan it was clear he was the main foe and this kept the Guardians constantly on the edge. Here, the characters contend with lesser villains like the Sovereign, who are as monotone as their gold skin tone and Yondu’s Ravagers. As to how GOTGV2’s main villain measures up is hard to say. The MCU has been criticized for featuring relatively weak villains, but the one featured in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is more notorious and stands out more.

All told, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is not an inferior sequel. It stands up quite well to the original and is solidly in the upper echelons of the MCU films. It has so much to offer and though it tries a bit too hard to be something different and more introspective it is more heartfelt than the original. The worlds explored, especially Ego’s planet are truly stupendous and otherworldly. Each scene fills the eyes with bizarre colors and images and most of the jokes and sight gags come at the right moment with near-perfect timing. The action scenes are wild and dizzying with terrific special effects and are strengthened by the presence of the beloved characters. Without all the character development the big action pieces, particularly in the final act would have had less impact, and we would have been less emotionally invested in these endearing characters. Each of the main team members are allotted amble screentime to display many nuances from Peter’s insecurity over his attraction to Gamora to Rocket’s caustic act being used as a way to hide his inner pain. There is much more than can be listed here. This is why in the end, James Gunn is validated for spending more screen time on these quieter and pensive moments.

Even though, the film isn’t well connected to the Earth-based MCU, it is bursting with many Marvel Easter eggs and shows many potential stories that can be developed later. It will take more viewings to spot all of them. By the way, be sure to stick around during the credits; there are five post-credit scenes, a couple of which portend to some intriguing new directions for the expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. The best throwaway gag involves Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and his connection to the Marvel Universe.

The best way to think of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is to compare it to…yes, The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future, Part II. Both sequels were enjoyable but more serious in tone as is GOTGV2. In time, many have come to embrace both sequels with many feeling that Empire was superior to the first Star Wars. This could happen with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, but that assessment will come in time and after many deserved repeat viewings of this wonderful and emotional film.

José Soto

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Sneak Peak!

ggtg2

Boy, that was unexpected! Director James Gunn surprised those of us who were led to thinking that a trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 would be out for Christmas. Instead, he released a teaser trailer and poster today.

Seriously, with all the craziness going on right now with this stupid election, seeing the teaser is a tonic for the soul. It had me right at the beginning when “Hooked On a Feeling” started playing as we were re-introduced to our favorite space pirates (sorry Han and Mal).

Compared to the teaser for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, this one doesn’t show as much, but it doesn’t have to since we don’t need to be introduced to the characters. All we had to see was Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Yondu! Now he’s part of the gang and supposedly Nebula, but how that comes about should be an interesting story. Let’s not forget Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The duo were the breakout stars from the last film and it looks like the same will happen with the sequel. Come on, no one with a heart can’t help but squeal at the end of the teaser when baby Groot pops up on Rocket’s shoulder! It’s a complete reversal from the last time around when Rocket was often perched on Groot’s wooden shoulders.

The highlight for me was the big scene shown where Drax consoles Peter Quill over his love woes. Apparently, Peter’s lovestruck over Gamora and can’t connect. Drax just tells it like it is when he advises his friend that there are two kinds of beings in the universe. “Those who dance, and those who do not.” he adds that Peter needs to find a woman as pathetic as him before giving him an unwanted hug. It still brings a smile to my face as I think about the scene.

Looks like Marvel Studios has another winner with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. I’m already eagerly anticipating the release of the full trailer for this sequel. Anyway, here’s the teaser for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. It’s already on my must-see list for 2017.

Waldermann Rivera

 

This Summer’s Best Film: Guardians Of The Galaxy

guardian poster 2

Guardians Of The Galaxy is the perfect embodiment of the summer film. It’s fun, exciting, explosive, and it has the right balance of humor, action and drama. It’s also a big risk for Marvel Studios who until this time produced relatively safe  adaptations of their superhero comic books. Guardians Of The Galaxy doesn’t feature any big-name heroes and it can’t be considered a superhero film but a straight up space opera. Fortunately, Marvel Studios pulled it off in a spectacular way.

peter quilOne of the many reasons why Guardians Of The Galaxy works so well is due to its main character Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). He is cut from the roguish Han Solo/Mal Reynolds cloth, but with a huge helping of John Crichton thrown into the mix and a pinch of Indiana Jones. We’ve seen his type before, a bumbling, lovable thief/smuggler, who is looking for the next big score, but in the end decides to do the right thing. Even though his character type is familiar, Peter connects with us thanks to Pratt’s sincere and goofy performance and his surprisingly deep emotional makeup. The script (by director James Gunn and Nicole Perlman) takes time to show elements of his past, which explains Peter’s motivations and behavior.

Abducted from Earth as a young boy, Peter, who goes by the moniker Star-Lord, lives a scoundrel’s life in the galaxy while listening to oldies pop music on his vintage Walkman.  When Guardians Of The Galaxy begins, he breaks into an abandoned temple on an alien planet and steals an orb that is coveted by very powerful factions. The worst being Ronan (Lee Pace), a proud Kree warrior who is aghast that his race is now at peace with a rival space power, the Nova ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Empire. He wants what is inside the orb, an Infinity Stone, a MacGuffin that grants its user deadly power to destroy. Fans of the Marvel Comics know that it’s part of the gem set used to form Infinity Gauntlet, used by the evil madman Thanos to cut a path of destruction across the universe. Ronan is just a lackey of Thanos (who is briefly played by Josh Brolin), and is tasked to retrieve the stone. Over time, Ronan decides to defy Thanos and use the stone to destroy Xandar, the home planet of the peaceful Nova Empire. Continue reading

New Trailer For Guardians Of The Galaxy

gog

After what seemed like forever, Marvel Studios finally unveiled the first official trailer for the upcoming film Guardians Of The Galaxy. Based on the comic book of the same name it’s about Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and a band of alien misfits and outlaws who get into a grand outer space misadventure.  Guardians Of The Galaxy is one of the most anticipated films for this summer and for non-fans, this excitement is surprising given that the film is based on one of the lesser known properties of Marvel Comics. Some may even claim that this thing is a gamble for a Marvel movie because unlike other properties that weren’t well known like Elektra and Ghost Rider, this film looks like a lavish big budget affair with a big name cast (Zoe Saldana, John C. Reilly, Benecio Del Toro, etc.).

It’s not really surprising when you think about it. The premise is waaay out there and it doesn’t fall into the formula for a Marvel film. One look at the trailer shows that it seems more like Farscape or Star Wars than the latest Iron Man film. We see lots of weird aliens, dazzling special effects, big fight scenes and the center of it all is the self-important and goofy Peter Quill. Pratt’s introductory scenes in the trailer suggest that his character will be cut from the same cloth as his other loony character, Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation, only more serious and with a touch of John Crichton thrown in.

groot

But hands down, the big highlights were Rocket Raccoon and Groot. They look outlandish and you have to give Marvel and director James Gunn credit for not holding back on these two aliens. Rocket Raccoon and Groot look like they just stepped out of the comic books and they could be the breakout characters. Just imagine the toy shelves this summer cluttered with plush Rocket Raccoons! It’s a no brainer.

Many of the fast paced shots were identical to those seen in that brief, grainy bootleg trailer that has been on the Internet since last summer, complete with Blue Swede’s “Hooked On A Feeling” playing in the soundtrack. Seeing it in high-definition was just gravy.

All this hoopla over a trailer in the end won’t matter much if the film fails to deliver. But Guardians Of The Galaxy looks like another sure-fire winner for Marvel.

Lewis T. Grove