Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Certificate 12A, 136 minutes

Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. Why is it called Vol. 2, which is a more unusual name for a sequel? Well the soundtrack is the Awesome Mix Vol. 2, so this makes sense. It opens in Missouri, Earth (just in case you weren’t sure) in 1980, with a woman and a man in a car, with the woman singing along to the radio. They park at a Dairy Queen, and the man takes her into the woods behind it. Perhaps not for the reason you might think – he wants to show the woman a rather strange looking thing he has planted in the ground. The woman comments on how she had to fall for a spaceman – her name is Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock).

Skip forward 34 years and the Guardians are on The Sovereign. They have been hired to protect some really valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional squid-like monster with lots of teeth called the Abilisk. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is busy assembling something whilst they are waiting for the Abilisk to arrive, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is explaining why he isn’t wearing one of Rocket’s creations (he has sensitive nipples apparently) and Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are discussing weapons choices. What Rocket is assembling is basically a stereo. The result of this is the opening credits have Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) dancing in the foreground to some of Quill’s music from Rocket’s stereo whilst the others fight the Abilisk in the background.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2After successfully defeating the Abilisk, they speak to the High Priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) of The Sovereign – a race of gold-skinned, gold-eyed and gold-haired genetically engineered people – about their reward. The reward is Gamora’s cybernetically-modified sister Nebula (Karen Gillan); she apparently has a high bounty on her head and Gamora only wants her for this. The sisters have quite a few issues. Fortunately, they get ample chance during the film to violently discuss these.

They leave with their reward but Rocket decided to steal some of the batteries himself – because they were very easy to steal. The same batteries they had just been hired to stop being stolen. Perhaps not that surprisingly, High Priestess Ayesha takes offense to this and sends her fleet after the Guardians. Their ship gets badly damaged and they are only saved by a stranger who appears to be riding outside of an ovoid starship. badly damaged, they end up crashing, and their rescuer then approaches.

He says his name is Ego (Kurt Russell, The Fate of the Furious) and he is accompanied by the empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff). There is also a strong resemblance to the person to the person from the very beginning of the film, albeit an older version, so it’s not that surprising when he states that he is Quill’s father. Quill himself is rather uncertain about this man who suddenly appeared claiming to be his father, but Gamora says that this is what he’s wanted all his life – and, if Ego turns out to be evil, they can always kill him. A rather practical approach. Quill, Gamora and Drax accompany Ego and Mantis back to Ego’s planet, leaving Nebula with Rocket and Baby Groot, with Rocket fixing the ship. The ship is easier to fix than might be expected, given that half of it is missing.

On Contraxia, Yondu (Michael Rooker), the person who originally kidnapped Peter when he was a boy – and who was apparently hired to do so by Ego, although he was supposed to deliver Ego’s son as well – confronts the Ravager Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone). Yondu was exiled from the Ravagers for breaking their code – namely stealing and selling children. Yondu is himself approached by Ayesha, who wants to hire him for a job, and that’s a job that’s easy to guess.

It is not immediately obvious as to who the main villain of the piece is – in fact, it isn’t obvious for a substantial portion of the film, keeping the audience guessing. Even though this is a long film, and it’s not clear who the bad guy is for some time, it doesn’t feel long, which is always a good sign.. There is, once again, a lot of humour in the film, from tiny bits when the carpet being unrolled in front of Ayesha gets stuck, to the interactions between the various characters. Especially Drax, who isn’t exactly slow, more straightforward and completely unsubtle, saying exactly what he wants to. Tact is not something that is in his vocabulary. There’s the “unspoken thing” between Quill and Gamora and Rocket’s, mostly successful, attempts to irritate everyone – he describes himself as being a professional a**hole.

Baby Groot is tiny and, well, cute. Vin Diesel still only says the same three words – “I am Groot” – although, as Groot’s only a few inches high, these are higher pitched and faster spoken than in the first film. These three words differ only by inflection, but they mean a lot of different things, and only Rocket seems to be able to translate them.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available in 2D and 3D, with the 3D version being the one watched. This may be a live action film, but there is a lot of CGI in it – even, by the looks of it, in many of the ordinary scenes; consequently the 3D works well, which frequently is not the case for live action. Given the extensive use of CGI, the actors interact well with things that are probably not on the actual set with them. There is a lot of space based action and some really impressive scenes, as well as the rather beautiful world that is Ego’s. The entire film is wonderful to look at. The soundtrack is, not surprisingly, heavily 80s-influenced, given Quill’s love of the music of that era (later in the film he gets introduced to one of the latest pieces of Earth technology – the Zune. You may not remember it).

As well as the space and other violence – an incredibly large number of people die, bloodlessly by all appearances – there is another element to the film – family. The family you are born with, and the family you find. There are the Guardians’ relationships with each other, Quill’s relationship with his father and with Yondu, the man who kidnapped him, and Gamora’s relationship with her sister, as well as the similarities between Yondu and Rocket (there is quite a bit of violence in that bit). All of these contribute to a rather more deeper meaning to the film than might be thought from its surface humour and gloss.

There are a total of four mid-credits scenes and one post-credit scene, so be sure to stay for the final credits. Two of the mid credits scenes would appear to simply be there for comedy, one is probably related to the next Guardians of the Galaxy film (probably not the Avengers-related films) and one possibly to a spin-off. The post-credits scene is probably there for comedy as well. There are also some animated parts of the end credits and various sentences say “I Am Groot” until being replaced with the correct words and it is also stated that no raccoons or tree creatures were harmed during the making of the film, but that the same cannot be said for their handlers.

Stan Lee makes his usual cameo – in fact, he makes two – and there are various others. As mentioned previously, Stallone has a short role and David Hassellhoff appears as himself – with a bit of computer enhancement perhaps to appear as an 80s-era Michael Knight. There are also less obvious ones; yes, Miley Cyrus does appear close to the end of the film, Jeff Goldblum is in it too and Howard the Duck appears once again. This is a fun film to watch and, although Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might not quite be up to the standard of the original film, this is simply nitpicking due to much of what is going on not being as original as it was in the first.

 

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