Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Batista, Vin Diesel (Voice), Bradley Cooper (Voice), Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone.
If The Avengers are Marvel Studios idea of a seriously tight knit (if slightly dysfunctional) fighting team, then the Guardians Of The Galaxy must be their idea of a not as serious group of super powered beings, that are just as tightly knit, but bring a lot more mischievousness to their adventures than The Avengers ever did. Think of it like this, if The Avengers are the Swat Team, The Guardians are the Keystone Cops. But both teams get the job done, and as Writer/Director James Gunn’s latest entry into the Guardians franchise opens, we find the team acknowledging that now they guard the galaxy for profit, not for accolades. Apparently being christened The Guardians Of The Galaxy comes with benefits, so they’re essentially heroes for hire right about now.
And as Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 opens, we find our heroes preparing to face their latest foe. They’ve been tasked to protect some very powerful batteries by a race of golden beings that call themselves “The Sovereign”. The creature that they’re facing is something akin to a giant glob with tentacles, and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. This entire opening sequence is one of the most entertaining ones I’ve seen in a long time, GOTG2 immediately endears itself to the audience with this rollicking beginning. Eventually we discover that Rocket Raccoon has stolen a few of those precious batteries (It’s in his nature), and The Sovereign are very unhappy about that. So they launch a fleet of attack ships to hunt down our heroes, but just when things look really bad for the GOTG, they find themselves rescued by a being who calls himself Ego. And Ego claims to be Starlord’s father!
And as the film continues, Peter’s relationship with his newly discovered dad becomes the main focus. As played by Kurt Russell, Ego (who just happens to be a celestial) is a being of seemingly limitless power, but there’s a mirthful playfulness to him. He knows he’s one powerful son of a gun, and is secure in the knowledge that there’s not much that he needs to worry about in terms of being usurped. Eventually Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Rocket Raccoon (Voice of Bradley Cooper) suddenly find themselves alongside Yondu (Michael Rooker), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and a being known as Mantis (Pom Klementieff) in a battle against Ego (who plans on destroying the universe for reasons too complicated to go into here). And all the while, our heroes still have to keep a close eye on Baby Groot (Voice of Vin Diesel), who’s at an age where all he wants to do is have fun.
Watching this film, it became patently obvious to me that while the first GOTG film was one where we got introduced to the characters, and watched them explode a bunch of stuff on their adventure, this second entry is the one where we really get to know what makes them tick. Writer/Director by James Gunn (Without his previous co-writer Nicole Perlman) stuffs this film with a lot of plot threads – possibly too many. In addition to Quill’s reunion with his dad, we get Gamora trying to build a relationship with her sister, Nebula. Then there’s Drax’ seeming attraction to Mantis, Rocket becoming emotionally detached from the others, Yondu suddenly feeling like maybe he’s Quill’s dad (After all, he did raise him. In a sense), and Baby Groot’s boundless curiosity. All this and the Sovereign is chasing them across the galaxy to boot. There’s a whole lot going on here, and while most of it works, a lot of it feels like territory we’ve been over before.
There’s so much going on in this film that it begins to wear out its welcome. Gunn’s insistence on inserting a lot of slapstick into the proceedings works for awhile, but becomes tiring as the film careens towards its finale. I understand the concept of the team being a less serious version of the prototypical group of heroes, but there are moments of levity here that are not only half baked, but feel a lot like they came straight from the first film. And there are way too many sub plots going on here to keep track of, especially when you consider that there’s a ton of goofiness interspersed throughout the film. That being said, everyone involved offers up first rate performances here. The characters feel unique, and the kinship they feel for each other is nothing less than genuine. Special kudos to Kurt Russell, who is not only probably the coolest actor in the business right now, but has featured roles in the two biggest films of the year so far (He has a big part in The Fate Of The Furious as well). His enthusiasm is really infectious here. Speaking of the latest Fast & Furious film, this film shares something else with it – the use of the word “Family”. It’s use might not be as egregious here as it is in the other franchise, but they GOTG use it a lot. Gunn wants to emphasize that feeling here, but I think it was pretty well established in the first film already. It’s use here feels superfluous & unnecessary.
But have no doubt, GOTG2 is one hell of an entertaining film, with some stellar FX work, tons of cameos, and nearly non stop action. If you’re a fan of the first film, this film will only cement your love for the characters. But there’s a feeling of sameness going on here that’s a bit off putting. It’s as if I’d seen it all before, and that leaves me wondering what’s the plan for the next film in the franchise. Will it be more of the same, or will the characters emotionally evolve into something we haven’t seen from them before? I dunno, but they’ll all be a part of the next Avengers film, in which the heroes will face off against Thanos (Who just happens to be Gamora & Nebula’s dad). I really enjoyed GOTG2 for the most part, and I can heartily recommend it, despite its shortcomings.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – 4 out of 5 shrouds.