A well-crafted galactic mix of psychedelic colour, hilarious one-liners and stellar action sequences; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a justified encore to its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1. The film fills in story gaps and extends its hand in adding depth to the beloved characters from Vol. 1 that audiences fell in love with and in turn progressing the franchise’s cosmic narrative, in typical Marvel fashion, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Director, James Gunn, returns to the driving seat and the experience from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1 has certainly served him well by giving him the confidence to embed the sequel with a colour palette of mesmerising proportions that alone will hypnotise moviegoers from the start. The film is full of sharp sequences, spellbinding CGI and delightfully well placed emotion that has brought a very 3-dimentional feel to Vol. 2. From the opening sequence, Gunn captivates moviegoer’s sensations with foot-tapping and head-nodding soundtrack choices dipped in that 80’s swagger we have grown accustomed to from Guardians of the Galaxy and the production design is so sensational that even James Cameron would fully appreciate it.
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2 - The Plot
The story of Vol. 2 picks up a few months after the adventure of Vol. 1 and the team – Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) - are now very much known through the universe as the Guardians of the Galaxy. They are hired by The Sovereign, a genetically engineered alien race, to protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Nebula (Karen Gillan). Rocket steals the batteries for himself and the team are then pursued by The Sovereign before being rescued by Ego: The Living Planet (Kurt Russel) aka Quill’s Father. The team are split up with Quill, Gamora and Drax accompanying Ego and his colleague Mantis (Pom Klementieff) back to Ego’s planet. Meanwhile, The Sovereign hire Yondu (Michael Rooker) to capture the Guardians but only discover Rocket, Groot and Nebula. The Ravagers are led by Taserface.
On Ego’s planet, Quill learns of his heritage and that his father is a celestial, making Quill half human and half celestial. Ego teaches Quill to use his power and explains that he has spent thousands of years travelling the universe and planted seeds on every planet he visited to terraform them into extensions of himself but he couldn’t do it by himself, he needed another celestial’s power. Mantis warns Drax, Gamora and Nebula, who reconciled with her sister after trying to kill her, of Ego’s plan to use Quill for his power as all his other children we killed. Rocket, Groot and Yondu escape The Ravagers and get to Ego’s planet in time to help but Quill learns that Ego deliberately gave cancer to his mother and battles him himself using his newly discovered celestial power. The team work together battling the newly arrived battleships of The Sovereign and Rocket makes a bomb out of the stolen batteries to destroy Ego’s brain housed in the core of the planet.
A Sense of Family Emotion
The film re-establishes the familiar dysfunctional dynamics between the team and the bickering and clashing develop into a routed understanding that no matter their differences that they more than a bantering motley crew- they are a family. Family is a reoccurring point through the film and part of Gunn’s vision to complete plot gaps and give a progressing depth to the core characters. Quill finally learns of his true celestial origins in an attempt for him to finally deal with his ‘daddy issues’, demonstrated rather well with a well-timed story and appearance involving David Hasselhoff. Quill is given a two-sided coin in this situation with both Ego and Yondu serving the purpose of father figure and Yondu is given more opportunity to evolve from Vol. 1 adding relevant back story to picking up Quill and why he kept him. At the end, Quill is faced with the fact that what he was searching for the whole time was right in front of him and the emotion this generates is an unexpected genuine surprise and it subtly follows on from Vol. 1. At the same time, Gamora and Nebula’s relationship gets justified attention and develops both characters with an emotional foundation that has previously only been glanced over. This enriches our view of Gamora, the warrior keeping her feelings to herself, and provides more context to her relationship with Nebula, who before was only seen as the jealous underestimated sister.
The film brings us back to the galactic assemblage we love with all their arrogance, dysfunctional banter and humorous interactions that made Vol. 1 such a success. Chris Pratt reprises his role as the 80’s obsessed, sharp witted proclaimed leader of the Guardians- Peter Quill. Saldana brings the enhanced warrior, Gamora, with more heart as she fights her feelings for Quill, mothers the group trying to keep the them together and deals with Nebula, her sister. Dave Bautista as Drax holds the film together being the main source of humour with his perfectly timed one-liners. Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, returns with a hint of angst and underlying rivalry with Quill’s leadership. His heartening connection with Yondu brings a heart to the character that is reminiscent to his relationship and emotional connection with Groot in Vol.1. The final piece of the puzzle is Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, the cutest super-hero to grace the big screen with the vocabulary of 3 words- ‘I Am Groot’ just in a higher pitched voice.
The biggest stand out is Pom Klementieff portraying a naïve and somewhat sheepish Mantis. Her chemistry and interaction with Dave Bautista as Drax are some of the most exceptionally hilarious moments. Kurt Russel is brilliantly cast as the larger than life ‘daddy’ of Peter Quill. Quill’s love of the 80’s is cleverly transported into the casting of an 80’s icon in Russell. His performance leaves an impression as the surprise celestial antagonist with a believable father-son connection with Pratt. Nebula may not be a newbie to the franchise but Karen Gillan is sharp and snappy as the former daughter of a mad titan. She breaks away from rebellious and vengeful angry sister and then feeds empathy and sympathy out of moviegoers in a brilliant twist of emotion with Gamora.
Taking the Bad with the Good
Vol. 2 splits up the team for most of the running time in the film to ultimately cover more ground for the story arcs to work. This decision makes the film feel less connected and it misses the dynamic dysfunctional cohesion that the team as a whole bring to the screen. The film lacked a star villain as the main antagonist was only revealed in the final part of the film and because of this lesser villains were brought in as more plot hole fillers than actual high stakes give-it-all-you-got. This effected the momentum of the movie as the flow seemed stop and start waiting for the team to overcome the small obstacle villains and come together to for the final reveal.
The few bad points of the film are far overshadowed by the sheer entertainment value Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has embedded within it. It captivates right from the start and a small part of Gunn’s confidence is ignited in a single glorious unorthodox method by giving Baby Groot the spotlight in an opening sequence any dance musical would be proud of. Guardians of the Galaxy could easily be defined alone by its quirky and unique soundtrack that has moviegoers strutting along with this intergalactic adventure. The use of upbeat tracks, like full of charisma and swagger perfectly beat alongside the characters defining the narrative without the characters needing to say a single word.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a spectacle of vibrant and flamboyant colour that animates your imagination. The zany comedy and hilarious one-liners are the driving force behind the movie and paired with the heartfelt emotional arcs that pull on moviegoer’s heart strings this film is again a stand out Marvel masterpiece. Beneath the bickering, the bantering and the dysfunctional chaos there is a real unique beating heart that flows with the whacky anarchy the characters bring to the franchise. All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fantastic film full of extravagance that fits perfectly as a bridge to the future chapters of the MCU and a worthy sequel to one of Marvels greatest successes.