When James Gunn’s iteration of Guardians of the Galaxy premiered in 2014, the group of space fighters led by Peter Quill A.K.A ‘Star Lord’ (Chris Pratt) were largely unknown. Many adverts showcased the film as being a riotous adventure with talking tree stumps and racoons. Little did we know that the film would become the highest grossing superhero film of 2014 beating out Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X:Men Days of Future Past. After the surprise success, the Marvel Universe toiled for 3 years, stamped a Vol. 2 on the sequel and dispatched it into cinemas for eager viewers everywhere.
The film, again directed by James Gunn blends a retro vibe with a typical Marvel save the day plot. Peter Quill, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) return to fight galactic battles and slay hideous monsters. The plot lays out a villain in the form of gold queen, Ayesha (The Night Manager’s Elizabeth Debicki) who is inconvenienced by Rocket’s blatant disregard for her high standing. This leads her to dispatch fleets of ships to eradicate The Guardians, which leads them to the next plot line, Ego. Ego (Kurt Russell) is a living planet and as it turns out, Peter’s father. Now I won’t go into Peter’s parentage too much but it is a big factor in the film and actually ends up being the main plot line. A lot of questions and feelings explored in the first film come full circle in this sequel with many questions answered, no matter how absurd.
Other small sub plots include Gamora and Nebula’s (Karen Gillan) relationship as sisters and their continuing fight for dominance. There are some nice scenes between the two however Nebula does hint at Avengers: Infinity War with her remark about killing Thanos for ripping away parts of her body and crushing her spirit. This is the only real hint at Infinity War as Vol. 2 is detached from the drama of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet unlike its predecessor.
Rocket and Yondu (Michael Rooker) also share some interesting and compatible scenes together showcasing their characters flaws and highlights by sacrificing their own values for the sake of their friends and family. Yondu is particularly prevalent this time around with Gunn really pushing the ‘adoptive dad’ stance on him. In fact, the scenes between Peter and Ego lack half the emotion than when Peter is with scavenger Yondu who used too threaten him with taunts of cannibalism. Many of these scenes showcase how brilliant Chris Pratt’s acting is, Pratt has never been shy of a scene stealer with Passengers really opening the curtain on his ability to explore a range of emotions. However, Guardians allows him to utilise Peter’s pain for his mother through his eyes, much like Scarlett Johansson, Pratt is an eye actor which means you can see nearly everything he is feeling just by his eyes. His ‘unspoken’ romance with Gamora is a good example of this.
Although the film drags on for a little bit towards the middle, the revelations are exciting and the action and character development is well executed. The climax is a CGI dream (props to the special effects team such as Weta Digital and others) and the ending is very emotional with a slightly unnecessary finality. However, despite the heavy emotions running throughout, the film manages to get a good joke in at least once every 10 minutes with some jokes really selling the movie. None of them ever feel particularly forced and the group of characters banter together in a really enjoyable way.
Overall, Guardians Vol. 2 is a thrilling, no holds bar space adventure that will have you hitting shuffle on all your favourite 80’s classics and revisiting the first ride for more fun. If Guardians and Doctor Strange prove anything, its that the MCU is onto a winner when it introduces wacky and wonderful characters into its mix of already well known heroes.
Next up: Spiderman: Homecoming