Stunning sci-fi visuals, strong and hilarious leading characters, and foot-stomping 70s songs lead many moviegoers, such as myself, to fall in love with Guardians of the Galaxy released in 2014. That movie set itself apart from other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) hits such as the phenomenal movies Iron Man and The Avengers with its its great ensemble cast and exceptional writing that didn’t take itself too seriously, both paying homage to and parodying superhero cliches. It seemed impossible that this year’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would come anywhere close to recapturing the charm and heart found in the original but, I’m glad to say, it does.
We are reunited with Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) who, like a wormhole, suck us right back into the action with ease in this superhero blockbuster set in space. I laughed throughout at the witty banter between the main cast. While some jokes fell flat (some of Drax’s boisterous one-liners for example), there was fun to be found in nearly every frame of this film. The entire cast does a great job giving the movie the exact same energy that made the original so special. Performances by Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, and Michael Rooker, as Star Lord’s mentor, Yondu, especially stand out in this regard. Still, it’s Vin Diesel’s “Baby Groot” that steals the show. At one-tenth of his size in Volume 1, Baby Groot is ten times more hilarious in Volume 2.
Similar to his work in the first movie, director James Gunn creates an outstanding world filled to the brim with vibrant colors, infectious songs, and pop culture references that make it feel like a product of the 70s and 80s. This helped to form the heart and soul found in the 2014 film, and I was more than delighted to see it return. Like the soundtrack from the first movie, Star Lord’s “Awesome Mix Volume 2” is the filled with hits from the 1970s that are phenomenal, and that I listen to on repeat.
Perhaps the weakest part of this film is it’s serviceable plot. Without going into spoilers the movie primarily focuses on Peter’s reunion with his father, Ego, played by Kurt Russell. Gamora and Drax tag along on the father-son reunion while Rocket and Groot find themselves teaming up with Yondu on their own little adventure elsewhere. The outcomes of the situations that our heroes found themselves in are fairly predictable and, at times, feel slightly shallow. Additionally, there is quite a disconnect between the two stories. It lacks a sense of focus found in prior films which might turn some viewers away. Still, one of the ways the movie excels is by continuing character arcs from the previous movie. Almost all of the characters are more fleshed out by the time the credits roll, leading to a more satisfying conclusion. The story did a fine job holding my attention with quality pacing and mostly serving as a backdrop for the humor, character growth, and action. Despite flaws in the major plot, the movie makes up for it with its endearing charm and heart.
Once again Guardians proves that it isn’t the standard Marvel movie fare not only with its raunchier humor but also the resounding theme of family. Superheroes have been able to escape the stereotype of just being “a bunch of dudes in tights” by telling more impactful stories to mainstream audiences. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the most recent example of this by telling one of the more sentimental stories found in the pantheon of superhero movies. This is very much a movie centered around the relationships between characters and the ways that they grow and develop. Despite its underlying ethic of not taking itself too seriously, Guardian Vol. 2 is filled with touching moments that fit very well into the film adding pace to the slower segments.
Finally, what’s a superhero movie without its action. This sequel is Marvel at their very best in terms of action. Bright, almost psychedelic colors bring out the fast and fun action of this movie. The fight scenes don’t succeed because of their great choreography but rather their style. These sequences somehow manage to be intense and humorous at the same time. The first fight in particular shines and sets the tone for the rest film.
It is with no hesitation that I say Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is able to recapture the most effective elements of the original, simultaneously setting itself apart from the fourteen other MCU movies. The strong comedy, great references to the 70s and 80s, and overall heart allows for this film to stand amongst some of the greatest films of its genre. While anyone who didn’t like the first one most certainly won’t find any redeeming aspects in the second, most fans are sure to have a great time with Guardians Vol. 2. This is first of the several MCU films to be released in 2017 making me excited to see what the rest of this year has to bring.
I give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 9.2/10.
(Be sure to stay during the credits if you want to see the five additional scenes)