As always with these blockbuster reviews, every care is taken to avoid spoilers. However, everyone’s definition or tolerance of a spoiler is different, so if you are particularly sensitive to spoilers read ahead at your own discretion.
Last week, I went and saw The Fate of the Furious, and during that viewing I was treated to what was essentially a big blockbuster that tried to deal with a lot of emotion regarding families – both adopted and real – that happened to have Vin Diesel in it.
Interestingly enough, this week, when I bought a ticket to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, I was treated to what was essentially a big blockbuster that tried to deal with a lot of emotion regarding families – both adopted and real – that happened to have Vin Diesel in it. This difference being that in this one, the emotion hit the mark a lot harder. Also this one stars a raccoon. And a small plant.
The second entry into the Guardians series sees the title team, made up of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and the adorable and heavily marketed Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), working as “heroes for hire” on behalf of various clients. Following one job gone wrong, the team are saved by an enigmatic man called Ego (Kurt Russell) who also happens to be Peter’s long lost father. Quill, Gamora and Drax travel to Ego’s home to learn more about his powers, although Gamora and Drax are slow to trust the strange Ego. Meanwhile, Rocket and Groot get caught up in a mutiny about the Ravagers vessel of their old ally, Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the team are also caught in a recurring battle with Gamora’s assassin sister Nebula (Karen Gillan).
Keeping up so far?
If that basic plot summary seems crazy, it’s because it is. Writer/director James Gunn took everything that worked in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film and ramped it up to 11. The jokes come thick and fast, the beautifully designed cosmic side of the Marvel Universe continues to expand, the 70’s/80’s mixtape grows with more classic tracks (this time including a George Harrison tune, which is the quickest way to get me to buy a soundtrack) and Groot steals every scene he gets a chance to be in. Even the cast gets crazier, with Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Debicki and Pom Klementieff joining the already all-star cast of the previous installment.
The problem with this, and this is a problem that the film was always going to face after the mega-success of the first installment, is that it doesn’t quite capture the unique charm of the original film. And how could it? The charm of the original film was that it was so different to anything else we’d seen before. By doing a follow-up, that is immediately lost. (unless Gunn and Marvel had rolled the dice and completely changed the tone of the sequel, but how likely is that in Hollywood?) And it by no means makes this a bad movie. In fact, it’s one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen for a long time in terms of pure fun.
What this film does perhaps even better than the first Guardians film is the emotional aspect of it. As mentioned above, a lot is made of family in this film – both blood (Peter and his dad, Gamora and Nebula) and the adopted family that the Guardians have become. And this is explored in moving and sometimes shocking ways, going deeper than the average Marvel blockbuster will go. Even the most stoic of movie-goers will struggle not to be moved by some of the scenes here.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t necessarily my favourite Marvel movie, but gosh dangit it’s up there. This is a fun movie guys, and the Guardians chapters in the MCU are proving to be their most unique.
4.7/5 – You can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice, but you can bloody well try anyway.
Here’s Baby Groot. He’s adorable. I want one. And I wanted to end my review with him.
For those who like lists, here’s my current rankings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Captain America: Civil War
- The Avengers
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
- Iron Man
- Doctor Strange
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Iron Man 3
- The Incredible Hulk
- Thor: The Dark World
- Iron Man 2
P.S. There’s 5 post credits scenes in this one, for all you completists.