Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Pom Klementieff, Chris Sullivan, Elizabeth Bedicki
Plot: The Guardians have stuck together following their battle with Ronan and now find work as mercenaries. Whilst on a job they cross paths with a mysterious figure named Ego who introduces himself as Star-Lord’s father.
Review: There’s a Spider-Man movie coming out this year. Plus a Thor movie. And a Wonder Woman movie followed by a Justice League movie. In spite of all these promising offerings involving popular characters the most hotly anticipated release has got to be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The original came out of nowhere and proved a massive success thanks to its charm, bizarre cast and off-beat humour. Now we have the full team returning: half-human Star-Lord (Pratt), the most dangerous woman in the galaxy Gamora (Saldana), psychotic and literal Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), bio-engineered racoon Rocket (voiced by Cooper) and the resurrected tree Baby Groot (Diesel).
We pick up their story shortly after the events of the first film, with the team capitalising on their recent victory by doing mercenary work for the Sovereign, a race who strive for perfection in all things. When the deal goes sour they get bailed out by Ego (Russel), Star-Lord’s long absent father, and his servant, the empathic Mantis (Klementieff). Back on Ego’s planet they begin to learn about this mysterious and powerful figure and his relationship with Star-Lord’s mother. Meanwhile, Yondu (Rooker) faces a mutiny from dissatisfied members of his crew of Ravagers because of what he has given up to protect Star-Lord in the past. When a Ravager named Tazerface (Sullivan) challenges him, Yondu must team up with Rocket and Groot to hold his position. To further their problems, Gamora’s deadly sister Nebula (Gillan) is still looking to defeat her adopted sibling to prove herself as the better warrior.
All the characters we’re already familiar with are still on point. You get the sense that the actors have had a huge role in informing the characters with the result being that they come across quite genuine and believable, making this very motley crew so much fun to watch. Adding new faces into the mix is the riskiest part of this sequel, but it keeps the story fresh and engaging. Mantis has been raised in isolation, leaving her socially inept and throughout the film we get a great comedy of errors between her and Drax. Ego is an intriguing figure and well played by Kurt Russel, but as his story is tied to the main plot we won’t get into detail about the character here. It’s cool seeing Sean Gunn in a larger role (returning as Ravager Kraglin) as he still pulls double duty as the on-set performer for Rocket.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does stumble a small amount with some common sequel pitfalls. We see both popular villains and comic relief characters getting much more of the spotlight. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a problem for viewers it is something that played heavily into the downfall of other franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean. To Gunn’s credit all the disparate character arcs and plot threads do come together in the finale and play a role in furthering the themes of the film.
In addition to being a solid follow up to the original this movie delivers everything we enjoy about the Marvel Cinematic universe. Bombastic action sequences against visually stunning set pieces, sly humour and great characters. It also features the absolutely best Stan Lee cameo yet, one that will be a real thrill for fans.
On the note of the source material, many of the introduced characters differ greatly from their comic counterparts. Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot and Gamora are fairly close to their originals, but Star-Lord’s father and Mantis are entirely original creations. In the comics Star-Lord’s father is J’son, the King of Spartax and characterised as a dictator. Mantis, one the other hand, is a human mutant who is a formidable martial arts expert and overall a collected character who functions as therapist to the team. The movie characters have very little in common with these comic characters. Long time Guardians of the Galaxy readers should still expect some fan service with lots of cameos from familiar faces.
Vol. 2 isn’t going to have the same impact as the original because, well, it’s not original. Guardians of the Galaxy generated a lot of fans because it was a surprise hit and while this sequel isn’t going to disappoint fans it can’t capture that same unique feeling.
Get out and see it though, because it’s a blast and a half.
Rating: EIGHT out of TEN