When the original Guardians of the Galaxy dropped into theaters in 2014, it took everyone by surprise. Chris Pratt shot to superstar status as Peter Quill or Star Lord, director James Gunn’s star also soared and it was inevitable that a sequel or a franchise would follow. Now, we have volume two and a franchise in the making. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, although not as fresh as its predecessor, still has a lot going for it and a couple of new elements that I found quite moving.
The film opens to a baby Groot dancing his way around the others who are battling some horrible creature they have been hired to kill. My guess is these films are going to feature each member of the cast in some kind of dancing number in the beginning of each film. I love that idea, too. The gang has been tasked by the genetically engineered people of the planet Soveriegn. They are gold skinned and seek to be perfect in all ways. Led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) they posses certain fuel cells (or batteries) that everyone wants and will kill to possess. Without ruining the plot, I will say certain things happen which make our heroes flee and the Sovereigns hot on their trail. Enter, Star Lord’s or Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell). The Guardians, with the exception of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot and Nebula (Karen Gillan) go with Ego to his planet for answers and parts for Peter’s heavily damaged ship. But who is Ego?
Guardians 2 has an interesting story and I was surprised at how much thought writer and director James Gunn put into the planet of Ego, visually. I was also surprised to see that Gunn has wisely decided to explore the dynamic between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Giilan). There is also an exploration of Yondu (Michael Rooker) and just how good or bad he really is. These characters and their relationships to one another are fleshed and given depth which enhanced the story. I even liked how Ego is presented as a character and with a name like Ego you know there is more to him than meets the eye. Every performance is Guardians 2 is rock solid, even the new character of Mantis (Pom Klementieff) who can read people and control people’s thoughts. Everyone has shown up to Guardians, ready for work and it shows. They all seem to be enjoying themselves and it shows on screen.
Visually, Guardians looks terrific, as well. Everything jumps off of the screen and I saw it in the standard 2D version. I can only imagine how it looks in 3D or IMAX. Tyler Bates’ score is also spot on and there are all new songs from the 70’s and 80’s that are peppered throughout the film which greatly enhance the story, as they did in the original. “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” performed by Looking Glass is even incorporated into the relationship between Peter and Ego. There are also great tunes from Cat Stevens, Cheap Trick, Sam Cooke to Fleetwood Mac and George Harrison. This is one of the few films that I would buy both the score by Tyler Bates and the soundtrack. They are both that good.
My problems with Guardians 2 is that James Gunn’s script tries to be too funny in spots and as a result some of the humor is forced and falls flat. The humor in the first film had a natural flow to it and that is why it worked so well as a comedy as well as a sci-fi/action film. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a lot of fun humor that works and you will enjoy most of it. Almost all of the characters get some good lines and laughs. Gunn is a smart writer and seems to know his cast pretty well. His script, overall, is clever, witty and seems to understand human nature especially when it comes to the relationships between Quill and his father(s), Gamora and Nebula and Yondu and his fellow Ravagers. This is where Guardians 2 shines and shine it does. Despite its minor flaws I think most will enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as I did. As for the Marvel Universe, there is a Guardians 3 in the works and a crossover film, of sorts featuring the Guardians and the Avengers which sounds exciting. One last thought, there are five….that’s right FIVE post credit scenes so stick around until the last credits roll. You will be glad you did.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – **** out of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Rated PG-13 for sci/fi violence, language and adult situations
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Run Time is 136 minutes
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.