Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – DeaconsDen Review 

The a-holes are back for another trip through the cosmos. In 2014 we were introduced to Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot in a very enjoyable space adventure that occupied another corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will director James Gunn repeat the success he helmed 3 years ago? Or would this film suffer the same fate as many sequels?

The adventure picks up mere months after the film and the Guardians are doing what they do best, taking care of business for others. After the film opens with another fun musical selection (Come and Get You Love opening the original is still on of my favorite theater experiences) the team is on the run after Rocket steals some powerful batteries from the same client who hired them to retrieve them. After a pursuit, the Guardians are stranded and from this point on we are treated to a new adventure which involves the mystery of Peter Quill’s heritage.

All the elements that made Guardians of the Galaxy a great film are still present in Vol 2. A core group of quirky characters, humorous situations, a splashy sci-fi backdrop, a banging soundtrack, great dialogue and some really nice earnest moments. However this time we get all of that and more, as Vol 2 gives us some fantastic side stories involving characters who didn’t get as much shine in the prior film. If I were to relate this to video games, I would compare it with Bioware’s Mass Effect games. the original Mass Effect was a great introduction to the series, but it was Mass Effect 2 that raised the bar with expanding the world and giving us development with characters outside of the main focus.

About 1/3rd of the way through the film our  heroes split up. I liked the story taking this route becuase it allowed for some breathing room with the characters. The focus of the first film was to bring these people together so taking the time to have some time apart did wonders for the character growth.

We get some great side stories involving Gamora and Nebula, Yondu and Rocket, and also some moments with Drax and Mantis that were actually more interesting for me than Peter’s individual storyline. And that’s not a slight becuase there were some great moments there as well. There were a couple of lines that straight up gut-punched me with their sincerity. A lot of sequels have issues with expanding while giving us more of what we love and Vol 2 gives us new layers to characters we already knew. It’s a great balance with the material we already expect from a Guardians film and the MCU. Even the film’s villain has a story that has you in his shoes despite the path that he’s going to eventually take. I actually find it the gem of this story that focuses on the fact that blood isn’t always family. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is an awesome continuation of the adventures of the ragtag group. Everything that people loved is still there plus more with great character moments for almost everyone while maintaining its balance and never feeling overstuffed or overlong.

Final Rating: 3.5/4

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My first time going Fast and Furious

 

I will admit to everyone, while I love action movies, The Fast and the Furious series never caught on with me. The racing aspect is one I never particularly cared for. I saw the first movie on when it was released on DVD and didn’t even see the second until about 2 years ago. My family actually owns all of the series on DVD or Blu-Ray, but as the newer films came out, I just never got around to seeing them. With the recent release of Furious 7 marking the final film appearance of series star Paul Walker who was killed in a car crash back in 2013, I decided to at last binge and catch up with the series. It took me a week and I watch both the fifth and sixth installments back to back, then got up went to the theaters at 11:30am on Good Friday to see Furious 7. 

 Now that I have seen all 7, allow me to present my rankings of the series. No worries about spoilers, I’ll try to keep things brief. This is from least to most favorite.


7. 2 Fast 2 Furious

  Other than Brian O’ Connor returning and introducing us to the characters of Roman and Tej, this is just a standard sun-soaked movie that involves federal agencies and drug lords. Fast cars and nothing really special stands out.

6. Fast and Furious 

 The 4th film brings back most the original cast of the first, but it’s just a very grim and dour affair. It’s just a bore with the main focus being a revenge story. It also has dark cinematography throughout most of it. Probably not a good example of the “dark and gritty” trend.

5. The Fast and The Furious 

 The first film in the series is not a bad movie at all. It’s just pretty dated. We have good introductions to the characters who will be with us during this ride and the racing scenes are top notch.

4. Furious 7 

 The most recent movie, (and first I actually saw in theaters) is funny with great action set pieces and gives Paul Walker’s character a proper send off. That being said it is about 15 minutes too long, with most of that being part of the climatic action scene. Still pretty fun.

3. Fast and Furious 6 

 

This one ups the action from its predecessor Fast Five and sets up the threads that we will see in Furious 7. Our core cast of characters returns and continue to shine in their roles. Like 7 it’s a tad longer than need be.

2. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

  

The third film is probably my favorite. It’s a fish out of water story which sees a young man sent to Japan to live with his father after getting his last strike in the U.S. It’s a new world for him and us as viewers. It actually was refreshing to see a character not be an automatic wiz at racing and as he grows as a person, his racing skills grow as well. This is the most character driven film of the series.

1. Fast Five

  

Here is where the series reboots itself internally from a racing series to an action series. Fast Five’s plot involves our crew planning and executing a heist for $100 Million. It balances the seriousness of the fourth film with the lighter elements of others. This is a boatload of fun. Plus we are introduced to Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs who is just a really cool character in the series.

There you have it. This is how I rank the Fast and the Furious franchise having seen them all now. It’s a good series. It’s not my favorite series ever, but it is fun and I am glad that I finally was able to catch up with the story.