Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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 In the continuation of the epic space odyssey released three years earlier, the lovable crew of misfit guardians returns for another adventure. This time, they face off against a giant squid-monster, a civilization of golden people, what appears to be an actual god named Ego, and, of course, nearly impossible odds.
     

The characters remain just as lovable: the main protagonist, human Peter Quill, still has a hard time taking anything seriously, the green Gamora is as confident as ever, warrior Drax takes everything literally, talking raccoon Rocket has a smart mouth and a bright mind, and the tree of few words, Groot, is back as a smaller and far more adorable version of his original self. With the integration of two recurring characters into the gang -- Quill’s adoptive father, Yondu, and Gamora’s sister, the reformed-from-evil Nebula -- the dynamic of the guardians becomes even more familial. While this brings added bickering and group tension, the end effect is an increased amount of love to go around.
   

 For the most part, the film avoids the Marvel comic book method of providing the illusion of a large sequence of events occurring, only to come full circle and end about two steps away from where the plot began. From the beginning, it dives right back into where its predecessor left off, forcing the moviegoer to recall some of the intricacies of the first film. The action commences almost immediately with a battle scene - but the antics of the crew are pushed to the background while baby Groot, center screen, dances lightheartedly to Mr. Blue Sky as his companions run, fly, and are thrown around behind him. This serves as a rather forceful reminder of the first movie’s atmosphere and shows that the intent of the second is exactly the same. It also provides a reminder on who the characters are: what they are like and how they fight and interact with each other, which sets the scene for a lot of character development later in the movie.
     

The movie, like the relationships between the various guardians, is a bumpy ride - sometimes to the point of discomfort. Drastic and sudden shifts occur between plot progression, jokes about human anatomy, and character development, all to the soundtrack of 80’s music. Perhaps this is purposeful and meant to emulate the crazy randomness of space; perhaps it is simply the result of trying to go in many directions at once. Either way, the clumsiness of these transitions is so blatantly obvious it forces the viewer to try to find meaning behind it. Above all, the movie stays forcefully light; no quiet, emotional scene can go far enough to somber the mood before a wild fight sequence, song, or joke interrupts it.
     

Despite this, however, the moviegoer will emerge (albeit a bit dazed) from the theater feeling oddly moved and happy. It takes a bit of digestion to come to the conclusion that the movie is, quite simply, satisfying. What the film lacks in cohesion it makes up for in dimensionality; its path zig-zags but still manages to arrive at a destination point that leaves the viewer pleased with the holistic continuation of the first movie.
   

The special effects and animations are impressive, almost show-offy, but perfectly fitting for an adventure through space. There are spectacular chases and battle scenes, as well as more subtle but equally intricate character and planet animations. The movie ends with a vibrant fireworks show as the camera pans away from the tiny group and into the vastness of the universe.
     

Like the space in which the movie takes place and life in and of itself, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is chaotic. Its bittersweet ending, however, manages to find the calm in the storm as the characters congregate in a moment of reciprocated love.






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