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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — The Most Fun You Can Possibly Have Watching A Movie, All Thanks To Marvel’s Unlikely Cosmic Heroes

The popular cosmic team from Marvel Studios is back, but can they replicate the surprise success from 2014? Luke Miksa finds out.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-vol

In 2014, we were introduced to Guardians of the Galaxy; a ragtag combination of obscure characters seemingly plucked from the most obscure Marvel comics title. That was then. Now, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a big deal. With characters like Rocket and Groot leading the way, beyond all expectations the Guardians became cultural icons and some of the most recognisable and popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

With the surprise factor no longer an option, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 now has the burden of high expectations. But is this a sequel that squanders the possibilities presented in the first instalment? Thankfully the answer is no: Guardians 2 is just as hilarious, just as exciting, and just as heartfelt the second time around.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The gang is back!

After the adventures of the first film, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the newly pint-sized Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are now known throughout the cosmos as the Guardians of the Galaxy. In exchange for their services, the dysfunctional team acquires Nebula (Karen Gillan), sister and rival of Gamora. With Nebula secured on board their spacecraft, the team now has to not only deal with the pursuing Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) and his team of exiled Ravagers, but the sudden appearance of Quill’s estranged father Ego (Kurt Russell) threatens the dynamic of our new favourite team.

As a director, James Gunn (Slither, Super, Guardians of the Galaxy) has made a name for himself by making some of the quirkiest, original movies going around. His Troma roots are apparent in his humour, his bombastic action scenes, and his overall unique perspective which winds up entirely on the screen. A lot of his choices in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 turn material which would be mediocre in lesser hands and injects them with an energy and vision that seems so fresh. He is essentially a B-movie director with a tent-pole budget.

As far as plot, it is admittedly thin, but therein lies the brilliance with this film. This is all about the characters, and their actions and interactions are what drive the narrative. While the stakes are suddenly raised to a significant level in the final act, most of the film revolves around the small things: Quill and his father, mutiny amongst the Ravagers, and the sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula. The pacing and editing of these separate plots intersect at the right moments, and are fully realised when ultimately brought together towards the end.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Drax

Drax destroying

Your mileage may vary, and to many people the stand-out characters of the ensemble will be either Groot or Rocket — and understandably so, they are amazing — but personally, Bautista’s Drax was a highlight whenever he was on the screen. Drax is an absolute comedy gem, and the earnest, arrogant — often deadpan — delivery from Bautista is sheer brilliance. I would have never guessed that the man who once accused basketballs of not holding grudges would have such authentic comedic timing. I love how the actual comedian Chris Pratt is, at best, responsible for the fourth-funniest character in the film. Nothing against Star-Lord, but the movie is just that hilarious.

It’s not beyond Marvel to sprinkle their films with easter eggs for the die-hards, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ramps it up to an extreme level. I can’t think of another movie with such a depth of references. Now clearly, I can’t discuss any of them here (discover them for yourself, that’s the fun part), but I am certainly impressed that the copious amount of egg-ery does not distract once from the movie itself, which is due to the deft touch of James Gunn.

And we can’t talk about this film without discussing the soundtrack. A cultural touchstone upon release, Awesome Mix Vol.1 was a huge success, containing an eclectic mix of tracks from the 70’s and 80’s. Obviously there is now an Awesome Mix Vol. 2, and although I don’t believe this new track-list is as impressive in comparison, it’s a decent mix of objectively less-commercial song choices, but ones that fit the scenes they feature in like a glove. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ has never sounded so good.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 rocket groot

Legends

Although there is a bewildering five(!) separate post-credits scenes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is refreshingly free of the cross-promotional baggage that usually dogs these Marvel Studios outings. It’s quite obvious that we’re building towards the Guardians meeting the Avengers in the ultimate team-up (which would logically occur in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War), but Guardians 2 still feels focused and committed to telling it’s own standalone story.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is pure entertainment. As a viewer, you can’t possibly ask for a more entertaining movie. I’m really digging Marvel’s foray into the cosmic universe, as it’s giving filmmakers the creative freedom to make some truly unique, interesting stories filled with lush visuals and diverse characters. With a cosmic setting and an interesting director, I have high hopes for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.

Llama Score: 9As a sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is basically on par with it’s predecessor. The surprise factor is obviously gone, and the plot is relatively low-key considering the cosmic setting, but what makes Guardians 2 so great are the bold character choices, and the riotous, offbeat humour. This could genuinely wind up being the best comedy of 2017, with the added bonus of all the kinetic, colourful sci-fi action. It’s not just a space opera, it’s a space comedy! Highly recommended.

 

Award: Golden LlamaAward: RecycleAward: FuryAward: Get to da Choppa!

Highlights Banner

  • Anything Drax. Bautista’s delivery is constantly laugh-out-loud funny.
  • Anything Baby Groot. And Rocket!
  • That brilliant soundtrack.
  • Watchers!
  • Sylvester Stallone is officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Lowlights Banner

  • Although fun, is five post-credits scenes too much?

Further Viewing Banner

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Directed by: James Gunn Written by: James Gunn Produced by: Kevin Feige Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Kurt Russell Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Run length: 136 minutes Australian Release: Out now in all major cinemas
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