I remember thinking that the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film was the biggest gamble for Marvel Studios at the time. They only had 8 films that directly led up to the the 9th which was “The Avengers”, all in the same universe and all really good to great films. The clear possible misstep was the unknown, untested, space-bound adventurers, talking raccoon and walking tree. What it ended up being was the most fun and brilliant of all the Marvel films. Director James Gunn brought his unique style from his Troma days to the Marvel sensibilities and one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. Now it’s time for round two.
It seems like the Guardians: Peter Quill aka: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and now ‘Baby’ Groot (Vin Diesel) have fallen right into their roles as a team, they are taking jobs protecting the galaxy from threats and space beasts. They are still snarky, augmentative, and hilarious all while working together. As attitudes clash though, it lands the team in hot water with a group called the Sovereign, helping them get away is the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell) who claims to have answers to Quill’s past. With his appearance and the return of a revenge-seeking Nebula (Karen Gillan) and a banished Yondu (Michael Rooker) the group splits up and tries to make their way back together to once again attempt to save the galaxy, because, well it’s in their name.
This second time around, we do get more of the same carried over from the first film with Rocket with the chip on his shoulder, Drax with his literal humor, Gamora with her stand off nature, and Star-Lord with his sarcasm and love for seventies jams. Everyone gets their own mini character arc, there is not the Marvel sequel set-ups as in the Iron-Man and Thor’s sequels. Here director Gunn gives more time for the team to develop as individuals and deal with their baggage, though some feel more clunky than others. The needle drops from the Awesome Mix Vol. 2 are not as organic or as fitting as in the first film, but a few hit it just right like tunes from Fleetwood Mac, E.L.O., and Jay & The Americans. The script felt like it needed a touch from previous co-writer Nicole Perlman as Gunn has sole writing credit here and while there is some good touching moments, others needed a bit more to earn their inevitable outcome.
The highlights as far as performances again are Bautista and Pratt with some more Rooker and even Sean Gunn to help keep the movies previously established heart. Newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis an empath devoted to Russell’s Ego is a great companion to Drax as every one of their scenes is golden. Plus it’s completely as advertised with Baby Groot, he is the cutest thing ever. The action is still solid and the story even as big as the galaxy is, stays pretty contained with our heroes. Again not common for a Marvel film as the only set up we really get for future films is in several scenes littered during the credits. And this one has by far the best Stan Lee cameo of any Marvel film (yes better than the Deadpool D.J.). “Guardians: Vol. 2” is another fantastic entry into the Marvel-can-do-no-wrong Cinematic Universe! It’s fun, funny, and just a plain ol’ good time, all before we get with the darkness of the upcoming Infinity War.