In a universe where there exists a talking raccoon and a walking tree, sorcerers, and spider-men, you’d think things wouldn’t get much weirder. You thought wrong.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sequel to the sleeper hit of 2014, aptly titled Guardians of the Galaxy. The film stars Chris Pratt once again as the brash and cocky Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as the assassin Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket and Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot. The movie also stars Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Michael Rooker as Yondu and Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet. Guardians continues with our titular heroes on a mercenary mission, but their adventure takes a different turn when Peter’s parentage is revealed. That’s as much of the plot I can give without spoiling major parts of the movie.
The original Guardians of the Galaxy was a shocker for everyone when it was released in 2014, giving a different flair to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was very much needed to break up the fairly consistent tone of the other films in the MCU. It was much lighter and comedic than the other films, more akin to a space opera á la Star Wars. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues that tradition of that type of feel. The cast is still as much fun as ever, with their chemistry much stronger in this film than in the previous one. But more than anything, this is Star-Lord’s film and he was great. Two standouts of the film include Drax and Baby Groot. Drax was delegated to more of a comedy act, but he was hands-down the funniest part of the entire film. Almost every moment with Drax has some element of humor, but was still able to be serious when it was needed. And Baby Groot was just the best. Groot added some much more levity into an already light film. But as the movie hits its dark moments, Baby Groot still happens to bring some more lightness that was very much needed.
In terms of new characters being introduced, Russell’s Ego the Living Planet was the major standout. Russell is always a good actor, and he brings it to this film as best as he can. It’s not his magnum opus of performances, but he does gang-busters for a guy playing a planet. Pom Klementieff’s Mantis was decent. She brought a very sincere naivety to the film, which made her interactions with Drax all the more heart-warming. The rest of the supporting cast did very well, but the strongest was undoubtedly Rooker’s Yondu. Yondu goes through a renaissance in this film, and while time dedicated to him wasn’t much, he made up with his character work. It truly felt like a real face-turn for a character that was painted in the previous film as someone who walked the fine line between good and evil.
The action in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was just as electric and fun as it was in the original film. Unlike it’s Avengers counterparts, there were no grey/dark areas or scenes. Visually, Guardians was a lightning storm of bright colors and epic visuals. Most of the CGI effects were done very well, able to immerse the viewers in the many worlds of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And with the action, it’s crisp and clean and still as much fun as ever. There isn’t too much one-on-one bouts in the movie, but Guardians makes up for it with all of the pulse-pounding, high stakes Star Wars-esque dogfights. The film also has a plot twist so jarring and so unexpected that it changes the way you look at the both Peter Quill, Ego and Yondu.
There’s a lot to love in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but it wasn’t all gold. For instance, the Sovereign felt useless in the film. Elizabeth Debicki was functional as the pompous Ayesha, but she felt wasted and – ultimately – unimportant. She becomes important after the film, as she provides a post-credit stinger that will make comic fans jump in joy. With Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon, this scene is extremely important. But having to say that the leader of the Sovereign’s most important role happens after the credits of the film – especially given the Sovereign’s importance in Guardians lore – makes their appearance seem insignificant. Also, while most of the humor worked in the film, other times it did not end up so well. Some of the comedic moments don’t land as well, and some of the jokes that are introduced and revisited throughout the 2 hour and 18 minute duration don’t always find their mark like the film thinks it should. Finally, and perhaps it’s biggest “sin”, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t as great as its predecessor. Guardians of the Galaxy was something that was unexpected and fresh. It’s sequel couldn’t quite match the freshness of the original, but that’s not entirely the movie’s fault.
In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still a fun and welcome entry into the grandness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Great characters, exciting and bright action sequences, more Easter Eggs than you can shake a stick at, adn a rocking soundtrack to boot, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still a worthy successor to a great film. And we still have Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok coming up this year. This summer is loaded, and this was a great way to start it.