Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Looking at MCU sequel posters past, I’m super-glad that Gamora isn’t leaning against Quill.

“Anyone can save the galaxy once.”

Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell and David Hasselhoff

As always, the following review will not be spoiler free.

After an introduction set in 1980, introducing us to Peter’s mother and father (Russell) in happier times, celebrating their love and introducing alien species to an unprepared ecosystem, we flash forward to the Guardians doing a job for the Sovereign, a gold-skinned race of genetically engineered superbeings, in return for Gamora’s (Saldana) sister Nebula (Gillan). When Rocket (Cooper) angers the Sovereign, however, their High Priestess (Debicki) first sends ships after the Guardians, then hires Yondu (Rooker) and his Ravagers to pursue them.

They are rescued from the Sovereign by Peter’s father, Ego. Peter, Gamora and Drax (Bautista) accompany Ego and his ‘pet’ empath Mantis (Klementieff) to his planet, while Rocket and Baby Groot (Diesel) fix the ship. The Ravagers come for the Guardians at the ship, Rocket and Nebula are caught up in a mutiny by the Ravager Taserface (Sullivan) and everyone ends up on Ego’s planet for the shock reveal and the final battle.

What’s wrong with it?

Despite featuring heavily in the trailer, this is not our villain.

Guardians of the Galaxy scored a massive hit with audiences with its irreverent humour and sly asides. Arguably, Vol. 2 is a little too Sly, and I don’t just mean the cameo from Stallone as Ravager chief Stakar. Perhaps what it lacks is the total lack of anything similar in the popular film lexicon; the existence of the first movie necessarily inhibits the originality of the second.

Youthed Kurt Russell; creepy.

Seriously, five credit scenes is taking the piss. I only even begin to give the film a pass because it obviously was taking the piss.

The Sovereign had a hell of a lot of build up, in the film and especially in the trailer, for what was essentially a sideshow. Actually… scratch this one; I’ll talk about why later.

Speaking of the trailer, wow we got some late movie action in that one.

Drax appears to understand metaphors now. Like… completely.

While not lacking in chemistry, the Gamora/Quill romance feels extraneous.

What’s right with it?

The character of Mantis, who is kind of like a live action Fluttershy, could have gone so badly wrong.

Two factors which could have gone badly awry do not: The face-ish turn of Nebula and the introduction of hippy-dippy insect empath Mantis. Gillan and Saldana make the former work by holding onto the anger which Nebula showed in the first movie and exploring its roots to create a believable relationship. The latter is saved by the emergent, almost fraternal relationship between Mantis and Drax, which is just adorable.

Drax, emerging from the shadow of his grief and vengeance, is a delight.

The set up and pay off of the real threat of the movie, and its solution, is superbly done; a proper Chekov’s gunfight.

Michael Rooker makes a proper meal of Yondu’s redemption.

This film also has some absolutely sensational set-pieces.

Given how much is packed into the film’s running time – two and quarter hours – it’s telling that it can get away with five minutes of business with Baby Groot continually fetching the wrong things from Yondu’s cabin (including the eye that Rocket had coveted in the first film.)

If anything, the integration of the Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is even better than that of the first film’s Awesome Mix, with special shout outs to the ‘Mr Blue Skies’ credit sequence and the climactic use of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’.

The credits feature a disco rap performed by ‘the Sneepers with David Hasselhoff’.

I’m sad that I can’t get a screenshot of Stakar’s original Guardians lineup from the credit scenes, looking for all the world like the god damn Space Expendables.

Baby Groot reminds me of my daughter.

How bad is it really?

I’m not sure, but I think someone may call Ego a maniac at some point, which would make him an egomaniac. I missed that at the time because I thought it was just a reference to something being blown up (you maniacs, damn you all to hell, it’s a mad house,) and it probably was that as well.

Oh my, I loved this film. It wasn’t the delightful surprise that the original was, but neither was it the crushing disappointment that I feared. If it’s not quite as fresh, it’s still got spirit, and manages to be unremittingly entertaining for over two hours, as well as packing in some punchy emotional blows, especially on its main theme of (mostly crappy) fathers and the conflict between the family we get and the family we make.

Best bit (if such there is)?

“I am Groot!”

The credit sequence, in which an epic battle is almost entirely backgrounded while Baby Groot bops around to ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Skies’, is one of the most purely joyous things I have ever seen on film. Deadpool‘s slow-mo snark fest is now my second favourite credit sequence.

What’s up with…?

This poster is just a thing of beauty.
  • The last three years? According to the captions, this film is set in 2014, while the other MCU entries appear to be contemporary.
  • When did Gamora become She-Hulk? I know she’s always been tough, but… If she can heft a cannon ten times her size, how did the Xandar Street fight not kill Peter and Rocket straight up?
  • Yondu? If dealing in kids is against the code, and even brash renegade Yondu needed to be convinced he wasn’t delivering Ego’s spawn to death, why hire the Ravagers at all? Surely the Galaxy must have less principled muscle for hire.

Ratings

This again could have gone badly wrong.

Production values – Just… amazing. I almost feel I ought to weight against this category for major theatrical releases. It makes me look soft. 2
Dialogue and performances – Witty, engaging and occasionally poignant writing combines with another round of superb performances. 3
Plot and execution – The film’s plot is an exotic mix of galaxy-destroying consequence, petty larceny and pettier snarking, and yet it all comes together almost perfectly. 6
Randomness – David Hasselhoff is always random. 5
Waste of potential – So, this is not as awesome as the original, simply because it was more of a sure thing to begin with, but it’s pretty damn good. 5

Overall 21%

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