The Guardians of the Galaxy are finally back in Marvel Studio's latest blockbuster, the aptly titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Director James Gunn's original masterpiece was a landmark movie for Marvel Studios, proving that the global audience was ready for the more obscure side of Marvel Comics. The calculated risk was an immense success at the box office, paving the way for more cosmic characters and concepts in the lead-up to the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Rocket and Baby Groot
James Gunn's unique take on the original was tremendously bold, zany and heartwarming brilliant. With Gunn taking the reins once again, Guardians of Galaxy Vol. 2 is even more colourful and crazier than the first. All the favourite characters are back, including "Starlord" Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot and of course Rocket Raccoon. The tremendous retro soundtrack also makes its presence felt much like the original, playing an important supporting role in gelling the ambitious plot together.
The new film follows the story of the cosmic group as they embark on another adventure, following an opulent prologue featuring amazingly executed cinematography and CGI. The prologue eloquently provides backstory to Peter Quill's mother before snapping back to the Guardians on a mission working as guns for hire. Their bounty for the job is Gamora's adopted sister Nebula, also the infamous daughter of Thanos. Their intention is to take Nebula back to the Nova Corps, however hilariously unforeseen circumstances see the Guardians being pursued by an armada throughout galaxy.
Luckily for the Guardians, a form of divine intervention allows them to get out of the mess they are in. This intervening force comes in the form of the entity known as "Ego the Living Planet". Ego, played by Kurt Russell, is one of the more outlandish characters to be introduced in Marvel comics. In his new physical form he conveniently introduces himself as Peter Quill's long lost father.
The entire circumstance seems a little too good to be true for the Guardians, yet they are taken on another crazy journey nonetheless, as they are forced to save the galaxy once more. To complicate matters further, Yondu and his band of Ravagers are hot on Peter Quill's trail, looking to rectify matters left unresolved in the previous film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Rocket and Baby Groot
Audiences will be spoilt for choice with the amount of classic Marvel characters introduced in this film. The plot sees each hero within the Guardians thoroughly developed. In addition to this, Yondu and Nebula are substantially developed too. Nebula and Gamora's unique sisterly relationship is intricately weaved into the plot, while Yondu's troubled history resurfaces forcing him to face tough decisions as the story progresses.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also pays fantastic homage to many of the outrageous characters and concepts seen in Marvel Comics in the 60's, 70's and 80's. For the most part the ideas have been creatively adapted for the screen, however James Gunn and Marvel Studios are tremendously true to the source material.
The previous cast, including the likes of Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper, artfully reprise their roles. Pratt and Cooper are the standouts here, however Zoe Saldana provides a sensuous performance. Dave Bautista does what he needs to do, while Karen Gillen and Michael Rooker both provide courageous character studies.
The introduction of Pom Klementieff as Mantis is highly entertaining, as she primarily plays off the dry and direct humour of Drax. However, for most part, she has little to do and unlike the original, some of the comedy misses the mark.
The absolute stars of the film are the adorable Baby Groot and the formidably fun Rocket Racoon. Vin Diesel and particularly Bradley Cooper's voice work is sensational. The visual effects geniuses at Industrial Light and Magic artfully bring both characters to life in a way the excels the narrative. Perhaps the only criticism is that the cute and courageous Baby Groot is slightly underutilised in favour of other character development. The walking, talking, dancing tree will undeniably be a merchandising monster for Disney.
It has to be said that the highly anticipated sequel doesn't quite have the same impact as the original. It has a plethora of strong moments, however the surprise factor seems to be a lot less prominent. There are also a surprisingly high number of comedic callbacks that don't quite hit as they should. However, the overall story is great fun, and the movie is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Unlike the original which primarily focused on the character arc of Peter Quill, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 chooses to follow multiple character threads. The focus here is to build conflict among the team members. It is effective in its execution, but at times can feel excessive. The character conflict is also not as well developed as Captain America: Civil War.
It also has to be said that the plot is slightly uneven. It tries to do a lot, developing multiple character arcs simultaneously which leaves a tremendous lack of breathing room. Amongst all the colourful action it can be a lot for the casual viewer to take in. However true Marvel comics aficionados will be more than ecstatic, welcoming the inundation of classic comic character cameos. Many of these will be obscure to the mainstream audience, however each is essential in foreshadowing the events to come in Avengers: Infinity War.
Comic fans will also be overwhelmed with the scattering of Marvel Easter eggs throughout the plot, which can be difficult to fully taking in amongst all the character development and showstopping action. The emotive element of the film is also supremely executed, with many members of the audience guaranteed to shed a tear. How Marvel Studios movies are always capable of incorporating so much heart is always a pleasant surprise.
It is an admirable effort by director and writer James Gunn, however he possibly tries to do a little too much with the film's allotted runtime. The editing can also feel slightly rough and excessive. This is a byproduct of trying to fit so much character development into the story in addition to multiple plot devices. However, these are minor gripes especially considering the film is so fun and enjoyable.
In summary, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a must see at the cinema. It is definitely a film the will require multiple viewings just to absorb all of the plot, let alone all the spectacular and colourful cosmic action. Make sure to stay after the big emotional finish as the end credits come alive with 5 post credit scenes. In short, it is an absolutely marvellous film.