Release: May 5, 2017
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, David Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Kurt Russell as Ego, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Michael Rooker as Yondu
Spoiler Warning: gninraW reliopS
The second installment of Marvel Studios’ colourful space opera begins with the titular group of swashbuckling rogues fighting a hentai tentacle monster (seriously, what is the obsession with tentacle monsters all of a sudden? Was Hollywood taken over by weebs?) for a race of gold skinned humanoids called the Sovereign. After dispatching the many tentacled rapist from hell, the team go to collect their reward, Gamora’s ever friendly sister Nebula. During the exchange, Rocket informs Drax that he has stolen the Sovereign’s special batteries (he’s a raccoon and they’re shiny after all). He also proceeds to insult the high priestess, Ayesha, an offense punishable by death to the incredibly thin skinned Sovereign (when did Tumblr users and millennial socialists become a separate species). The twin offenses result in a squadron of Sovereign drones pursuing the team’s ship as they depart. They are saved at the last moment by an unknown vessel, but damages to the ship force a crash landing on a remote planet. The teams mysterious saviour arrives shortly after and reveals himself as Ego, a “celestial” (essentially a god) and Star Lord’s father. Ego invites Star Lord, Gamora, and Drax to visit his planet. They accept his invitation, leaving Rocket behind to repair the ship and keep watch over Nebula and little Groot. From here, the narrative splits in two. One path follows Gamora, Star Lord, and Drax as they try to unearth Ego’s true intentions, the other follows Rocket, Little Groot, and Yondu through an attempted mutiny. There’s more to it, but as this film is rather newer than the discount rack style material I usually review, I will stop there to avoid ruining it for any of you.
This second entry boasts a longer running time and slightly larger budget than its predecessor. The longer run time, as expected, comes with a change in pacing. Volume 2 has a much slower start than the first film in the series. Ordinarily, I would think this may be an issue (a bit of a turn off, perhaps) for the audience, but the success of “Logan” earlier this year sort of proves my assumptions wrong, I guess. The cast from the original all return to reprise their respective roles, of course. Pratt, Saldana, and Bautista all turn in good performances, but the real standout this time around is Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta. This is not really surprising, as it is the Yondu and Rocket side of the narrative that carries most of the action throughout the first half of the film. The two characters have a good chemistry, and Rooker is a consistently good, if incredibly underrated, actor. The scenes that take place on Ego’s planet tend toward the wordier and more dramatic side of things, alternating between Ego attempting to bond with his estranged son and Drax and Gamora attempting to divine Ego’s true motivations. This part of the film isn’t unwatchable by any means, but these types of scenes are clearly not writer/director James Gunn’s strong suit. The film definitely looks good. The bright, vibrant colour palette is a nice departure from the drab, borderline grayscale look that has plagued recent sci-fi films that I have viewed. The over the top action sequences are well done and visually entertaining. Kudos to the filmmakers for actually providing a few extended shots of Ego in his comic book form as a planet with a face, as opposed to just having him be represented by Kurt Russell through the whole thing. Of course, I feel like I would be a tad remiss if I did not offer at least an acknowledgement to Kurt Russell, who plays a conniving pseudo deity quite well.
“Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 2” likely won’t win any awards. It probably won’t garner the hefty praise that “Logan” did either. It’s definitely not trying to remake superhero or sci-fi cinema into stuffy, art house fair. What it is is a fun, entertaining, often cheesy, but incredibly watchable outer space adventure flick. Gunn manages to keep the movie’s dual narratives from becoming overwrought and falling apart, like a certain film featuring a certain wall crawler from 2007. While his attempts at the dramatic don’t always hit their mark, they often times do. Now, do us all a favour and don’t include any Japanese tentacle monsters in volume 3.