The first Guardians Of The Galaxy movie surprised a lot of people. Not only did it bring a relatively unknown bunch of characters to the forefront of the MCU’s phase 2, it cemented them as some of the more funny and loveable characters in the ever-growing roster of superheroes. So how does Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 measure up?
James Gunn does pretty well at making it two for two throwing old and new friends together to help bring Star Lord closer to his Daddy.
There’s certainly no messing around as we’re thrown straight back into the action as Quill and Co., who are now the go-to interplanetary A-Team, are on a mission for The Sovereign to reclaim precious batteries from that giant space squid seen in the trailers. Here we get to see our Guardians do what they do best whilst still managing to jam in the jokes. And, yes, there’s a hilarious dancing Baby Groot too so relax!
Upon returning them to The Sovereign, Rocket decides to keep some for himself and all heck breaks loose. And so begins a beautifully frantic chase across the Galaxy that leads our friends straight into the path of Ego and pushes the main story arc into high gear.
It has to be said straight away that Kurt Russell is brilliant here. He plays Ego with enough honesty and gravitas that everything he does on-screen is a pleasure to watch. Marvel Studios’ VFX team can also take a bow as we are treated to a flashback scene with a wrinkle free Russell that’s breathtakingly impressive.
As Peter Quill is taken on a futuristic Powerpoint presentation of how Ego met his Mother, the team learn a few things that they really didn’t need to know that sets the stage for some pretty serious home truths in the movie’s 3rd act. Now, as this is a spoiler free review, I couldn’t possibly divulge any more plot points or I’d be in danger of giving too much away so let’s stop right there.
Make no mistake this is a movie about the importance of family whatever shape or form and what it means to our Guardians of the Galaxy. While most of the spotlight is on Peter’s journey in Vol.2, the rest of the briefly disbanded gang get their moment in the spotlight. Pace slows ever so slightly midway through trading action sequences for character back story. Some are a welcome surprise giving us new insight into old relationships whereas others feel shoehorned in to make a 3rd act gut punch just that little more painful to endure. And boy does it sting.
The unlikely pairing of Yondu with Rocket and Groot works surprisingly well with some truly touching moments between them. Drax and Mantis, who get given a wealth of funny material, are two of the most enjoyable to watch. Dave Bautista has come a long way since the first Guardians and it shows here. We get a few beefy back and forths with Gamora and Nebula and learn just what it’s like to be a daughter of Thanos and it ain’t pretty at all. One thing James Gunn is good at is bringing the team together and it’s needed for the film’s final thrilling set piece.
As is the MCU way, the last 40 minutes are busy and fantastic and the slow build to the finale is worth it as we finally get a villain that feels just as unhinged as Loki but with a lot more power to boot. There are consequences that will surprise and upset many but it’s also a welcome shake up in a movie universe that is so afraid of losing one of its characters.
Two of the five mid/post credit scenes will have comic book geeks rejoicing while the uninitiated will frantically try to google what they just heard as they did when Thanos was revealed so long ago.
So does Vol.2 hit the dizzying heights of its predecessor?
Not quite but it’s damn close. This movie is just as fun as the first but just gets occasionally bogged down in clunky exposition. James Gunn loves these characters just as much as we do and it shows by how much time he spends fleshing them out for future adventures and giving them purpose. With the team due to meet the Avengers in Infinity War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 lined up after that, the future looks pretty frickin’ sweet.
And yes, everything Baby Groot does is predictably adorable…