How do you follow up one of the most beloved comic book movies of our current age? With extreme difficulty. James Gunn had no easy job following up the first Guardians film that made household names out of previously obscure characters like Groot and Rocket Raccoon. Fortunately this film hits Gunn’s stride, and had the sequel been passed off to another director, it may have failed miserably. This sequel is full of humour, action, new characters and a great story about family and connections that really hits you in the heartstrings.
All of your favourites are back from the first film Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Rackoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) although this time in baby form, they are travelling through the Galaxy helping out different planets, when we first see them they are helping a race of gold painted empress named Ayesha, played perfectly by Elizabeth Debicki. When a series of entertaining “mishaps” reunite the team with Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Gamora’s evil sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) things start to seem a bit of a mess when Peter meets his father Ego (Kurt Russell) who introduces himself with Mantis (Pom Clementieff) an antenna sprouting empath who shares a connection with Drax.
When the team are separated they must discover exactly what Ego wants while escaping the wrath of Ayesha and her golden army. The team are constantly caught between their alliances both individually and as a team. In particular the storyline between Rocket and Yondu is one of the strongest in the film and there is a three second moment between them that evokes the most emotion from any characters. Other moments between Gamora and Peter feel too familiar to the first film to have any significant impact. The feels are mostly delivered from Baby Groot who is not only a massive feat in animation, but also delivers an incredible amount of cuteness and heart that this group so desperately needs.
Visually this film is beautiful, it is the perfect space opera with 80’s neon infused eye popping colour that we have been craving since we left the first film. Gunn and his team have definitely dialled that up a few notches. Going to several new worlds the colours and sets are incredibly detailed and feel real and special as something completely out of this world. The main thing that I did complain about was the music, Vol.2 was nowhere near as good as the first and there wasn’t really a memorable 80’s pop song used.
Marvel have littered the film with some great cameos from characters both old and new and this is honestly left best as a surprise. Pratt once again proves that this role is completely his and is much more vulnerable this time around. Bautista as Drax is much more humorous in this film and really feels like he made this role his own this time around. This could also be the fact that his interaction with Mantis lasted for the majority of the film and he felt like a much bigger part of the Guardians team. Nebula and Gamora have a much more complicated relationship this time around and the stories of what Thanos did to them as children actually provides us with a reason to fear and despise him as a character.
From the second this film starts there is an amazing title introduction sequence that focuses around Baby Groot and the Sony Walkman while the other Guardians are fighting an interdimensional monster that is both entertaining and beautifully choreographed. This is also mirrored at the end of the film with a ceremony similar to fireworks in space that feel distinctively Gunn like in execution and made me love this movie even more.
Overall Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 delivers more heart, more action and more baby Groot, which is really what audiences wanted after the mammoth success of the first film. This time around the characters have more to do and with more room to breathe the Guardians succeed as both facing a larger scale enemy and while introducing a couple of new members into the group. With more laughs, more cuteness from Baby Groot and a large special effect budget the film thrives as a beautiful space opera. While some scenes do feel like they do go on for a few minutes too long, this is not really a huge complaint as the rest of the film is on par with Marvel Studio’s best films.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the proud legacy of Marvel Studios films and is in cinemas now
Review by Alaisdair Leith