The following review for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is spoiler-free!
It’s safe to say “We are Groot” once again. The stunning follow-up to director James Gunn’s 2014 Marvel blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, has the same spark of cosmic brilliance that shone when we were first introduced to everyone’s favourite, dysfunctional group of space misfits.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is, at its very core, a story about family. Where its predecessor brought together five hilarious a-holes and helped them realise that there’s more to life than stealing, revenge and running from your past, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 works to test their ties to one another only to further strengthen their bond.
Following a short opening scene involving a flashback to Missouri circa 1980, we pick back up after what we assume is a few months since the events of the first film; joining Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and the tiny, reformed version of our favourite tree, Groot (Vin Diesel) as they work on defeating the massive tentacle slug-like creature that’s featured in all of the trailers. Obviously it’s a fight easily won; an opening titles sequence that lives up to the quirky dance that Star-Lord graced our screens with back in 2014, rather than an actual challenge for our heroes.
After the group collect the payment promised to them for defeating the beast by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the high priestess of the Sovereign, they’re forced to escape an army of ships because of an incident involving a certain light-fingered Raccoon and some special batteries that don’t belong to him. They end up crash-landing on the nearest planet to them, which is where they meet Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Ego (Kurt Russell), who, as we all know, turns out to be Peter’s long-lost dad.
Each and every central character gets a number of their own special moments throughout the movie’s nearly 2 ½ hour runtime. From the expansion upon the relationship between Gamora and her psychotic cyborg sister, Nebula; the hilarious new friendship formed between Drax and the empath, Mantis; the mutiny on-board the Eclector and Yondu’s team-up with Rocket; the whole team’s motherly approach to watching over Baby Groot and the new challenges Peter faces in meeting the man who abandoned his mother, there’s an abundance of new mini-stories and plotlines that all tie together to create something far more poignant and gripping than many of the other films in the MCU. Plus, with a soundtrack like Awesome Mix Vol. 2 setting the tone for the film, it’s hard to find fault.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is as close to perfection as sequels come. Aside from a few issues with pacing in some places and the overuse of a joke or two, the new Guardians movie garners no complaints. It hits a few snags in the middle section of its story, but only in its need to please the audience as much as its forerunner did and the final act of the film more than makes up for the minor hiccups.
To declare Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a beautiful film would be an understatement. Set against a number of breathtaking CGI backdrops, the new installment in the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe is almost overwhelming in its stunning cinematography. However, the incredible visuals alone aren’t what make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a worthy sequel. Building on the dynamics within the core group of characters we already know and love, introducing us to an array of new and interesting guests, plus still managing to make us all howl with laughter one minute and fight to hold back tears the next, it’s clear that Gunn’s ‘Guardians’ are far more than one-hit-wonders.