Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, language, and suggestive content.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was irreverent, quirky and unlike anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is irreverent, quirky and unlike anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Basically, if you didn’t like the first film, its follow-up isn’t going to do much to change that opinion, but if you liked the original, then you’re gonna friggin’ love this one.
The gang are all back. Star Lord aka Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) continue their adventures across the galaxy, acting as heroes for hire. After one of their jobs doesn’t end according to plan, the Guardians find themselves being chased across the cosmos by their former employers. Saved by the unexpected arrival of Star Lord’s father (Kurt Russell), they set off on a journey to discover Peter’s true origins.
As mentioned, Vol. 2 hasn’t lost any of the zany flavour that endeared the first Guardians to so many fans back in 2014. Once again directed by James Gunn, much of what worked in the original film has returned in the sequel. In fact, when I saw the trailers I was a little afraid that this movie would just be a simple rehash of the same old jokes. And yes, while there is a reliance on Drax’s sense of humour (or lack thereof), Rocket’s surly nature and unsocial graces, and just the awesomeness of Groot, these are all dealt with in a deft touch that don’t feel like they have worn out their welcome. I would say they are actually funnier the second time round. The one relationship that was a bit tiresome was the will-they-won’t-they shtick between Quill and Gamora. They even refer to it within the film itself, and I think it could have been cut from the movie without much loss. But that’s more of a nit-pick and the interaction of the other characters more than make up for it.
Since the origins of the Guardians was already dealt with, the focus has shifted to the different relationships that the characters have developed with each other as a pseudofamily. The banter is natural, free-flowing and the chemistry is palpable amongst the many leads. These are easily the most likeable bunch of A-holes that have ever graced a cinema screen. There’s a carefree nature to the team dynamic that shines through even in the direst circumstances. The jokes come through a mile a minute and I’d dare say that all of them land. A tough challenge, but one that the actors in this ensemble easily rise up to.
Outside of the core group of Guardians, we get the return of Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his Ravagers, the team of space mercenaries that abducted Peter from Earth in the first movie. Surprisingly, Yondu’s character has one of the biggest arcs in the film. Rooker does some fine work, and I’m glad to see him back in this film. Also returning is Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s blood-thirsty sister who is out for revenge on her sibling. Still dark and brooding, she also manages to wring out a few laughs herself. It takes great directing to be able bring laughs in the darker characters, but James Gunn does it with ease.
Along with the returning characters, there are a whole host of new ones. Kurt Russell as Ego is enigmatic as ever, however the father-son relationship with Peter never really seemed as developed as I would have liked. Russell was perfectly fine in the role but I think there wasn’t enough time in the film to really delve into the connection between the two and any bond between them just seemed more like lip service than anything else. Ego also brought with him a side-kick, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), a socially awkward empath who was just insufferably cute with her goofiness. Mantis and Drax has some of the best interactions in the movie and she’s a great new addition to the cast.
On the bad guy front we get Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), leader of an alien race called the Sovereigns. As the former employer that wants to destroy our heroes, Ayesha and her fellow Sovereigns are constantly a thorn in the Guardians side. She won’t be topping any best movie villain lists, but she got the job done, and got a few laughs from the audience while she was at it. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
Vol.2 was a visual delight that had the audience constantly laughing with numerous call-backs to the first film. As you would expect from this calibre of Marvel film, the special effects are amazing (seriously I can’t believe Rocket really isn’t a real talking raccoon), with many locales being rendered beautifully. The multitude of set-pieces are well-staged, the imagery is vivid, vibrant, and incredible and all in all well worth watching on the IMAX screen.
There are plenty of cameos and Easter eggs for all the comic book nerds, and enough humour and action for most of the mainstream audience. I do wish some of the relationships has been worked on a bit more, but on the whole I would say that the sequel is just as good as the first.
A film that is both refreshing and entertaining, I give Guardians an 9 out of 10, and I recommend that you stay till the end of the credits as there are FIVE, yes that’s right FIVE end credit scenes.