MOVIE: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
STARRING: CHRIS PRATT; ZOE SALDANA; DAVE BAUTISTA; MICHAEL ROOKER
DIRECTED BY: JAMES GUNN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 Stars (Out of 4)
Out there among the stars, those Guardians of the Galaxy just keep on playing the hits. Marvel's odd-ball collection of characters have returned for a second helping, although the initial impact of the 2014 debut has worn off a bit, there is still plenty of fun to be had. This time, we learn a lot more about Peter Quill- aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), as director James Gunn continues to expand the universe, where the Guardians discover what it means to become a family.
The journey picks up from the start, the team has been hired to protect valuable batteries for a gold plated, royal alien race known as The Sovereign. Working as a cohesive unit, with Baby Groot dancing in the foreground to a brand new catchy selection of 70's & 80's music, they defeat an enormous squid creature earning praise from Queen Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), and the reward of Gomora's prisoner sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). Seems like a success, that is until Rocket steals some of the batteries, sending the fleet of Sovereign fighters to attack the Guardians. It causes an enormous, fantastic ship crash, reminiscent of Star Trek Into Darkness, leaving them stranded on a planet, till they are helped by a gray bearded man with flowing locks named Ego (Kurt Russell), who happens to be Star-lord's father. He invites Drax, Gomora, his antennaed assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and his new found son to his home planet, while Rocket and Groot stay behind with the jagged toothed Yondu (Michael Rooker) hired by the Sovereign to retrieve their new enemies.
What continues to make the Guardians the most refreshing franchises of the Marvel Universe, is the carefree attitude. The script is filled with witty banter between a belly laughing Drax, a gun slinging Rocket, and the rugged Star-Lord, in a thriving narrative, which all starts with director/writer James Gunn. The man who's career began with the slimey gore film Slither, has spent a lot of time with these lovable characters, and almost to a fault, he wants us to do the same. When the gang splits up from each other, we do lose a bit of energetic momentum, which is a surprising approach, filled with depth that we rarely see. Gunn sits each character down for moments to describe some of their strengths and fears. The performances work best as a collective unit, with Pratt in the drivers seat, showing a leadership style comparable to a William Shatner, and more ability to lead than he did in last years film- Passengers. The character build up however, is a welcoming surprise, considering the visual aspects of Vol. 2, which could be some of the best 3D work you will see all year. With vibrant colors of the multiple planets, creatures, and space opera battles, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an eye-popping, visual rock concert.
Eventually, the battles wage on, and we see new relationships develop between Drax and Mantis, the conflicting fighting between sisters Gomora and Nebula- who is someone that can never be trusted, and Star-Lord discovering himself, while figuring out his relationship between his green goddess and his space daddy. It's the concept of family that becomes a strong, consistent theme, along with an interesting subplot into Ego's ability to be an immortal alien. Gunn always keeps it unpredictable, as an intense action scene could turn into a long running, hilarious gag about Star-Lord finding tape to make sure adorable little Groot doesn't blow up the universe.
Most of all, fans will enjoy this, what is ultimately another middle piece, in a vast intergalactic puzzle. James Gunn and his band of half-robots, tree-things, rodents, and monsters will keep you entertained with plenty of laughs, head bobbing music, beautiful sets, large scale space battles, and even attention to characters you never knew you cared this much about. For the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is enough of a hit to keep these heroes rocking.
Written by: Leo Brady