GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (USA/12A/137mins)
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel.
THE PLOT: Not long after the events of the first film, the Guardians are tasked with protecting valuable batteries from attack. Although they complete their mission their employers – The Sovereign Race – are not too happy to learn some of their batteries are missing. When the Guardians are saved from an epic space battle by a mysterious stranger, they realise that this man may have answers about Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage, and be the link to the family that Quill never knew. I am Groot!
THE VERDICT: Three years after ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ burst into the worldwide box office, capturing hearts and minds of fans and newcomers alike, this lovable band of misfits are back with a more personal story than the one that went before, and some valuable lessons for the audience about the nature of family.
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Michael Rooker all reprise their roles from the first film, and the chemistry, comedy and deep emotional heart that they created the first time also returns. Karen Gillan gets more of a chance to make Nebula feel like a rounded character, Vin Diesel makes Baby Groot the cutest thing in cinemas so far this year, and some unlikely pairings throughout the film make for some interesting revelations throughout. The returning actors are joined by Kurt Russell as Ego, whose character is utterly charming, but ultimately lives up to his name, Sean Gunn who finally gets some decent face time in a ‘Guardians’ film- Gunn provided the mo-cap for Groot the first time around – Elizabeth Debicki as the proud Sovereign leader Ayesha and Pom Klementieff as the awkward but sweet Mantis.
The story, written for the screen by James Gunn, has all the comedy and quips we have come to expect from a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ film, but since this is a tale of family – both chosen and blood relatives – there is a deep vein of emotion running throughout the film that Gunn is not afraid to mine, and does so in a balanced and engaging way. The set pieces are well spaced throughout the film and, since this film does not tie into the wider MCU as a whole, there is a feeling that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is a film that truly stands alone, without being stymied by trying to fit into a wider narrative.
As director, James Gunn balances comedy, family drama and action very well, and although the final set piece feels a little drawn out, the film as a whole is well paced, with the story moving at a fun and compelling pace. As mentioned, some unexpected pairings of the characters leads to truths and emotions being revealed in a manner that feels organic and unforced. If there were to be complaints about the fun, fast paced and touching ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’; there are times toward the end of the film that the pacing drags its heels slightly, and the lightning in a bottle feel of the soundtrack to the first film is missing, with less recognisable songs being used, and in a less engaging way… Although since ‘Suicide Squad’ ripped off the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ soundtrack idea, perhaps this is no bad thing.
In all, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is a rare thing; a sequel that almost lives up to the original. There is tons of fun, heart and action in the film, and James Gunn has managed to make antagonists from the first film those that the audience roots for this time around. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is a gem that is going to keep fans happy and certainly set the box office alight; we can’t wait to see what Volume 3 brings. I am Groot, indeed!
RATING: 4.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Can the Marvel universe get any more awesome? Whatever they’re doing over there, they should bottle it and send it around to other studios as an example of how to make a proper summer blockbuster (looking at you, Fast & Furious 8). Anticipation is high for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, with the risk of it being the stereotypical sequel that sucks. Not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not by a long shot.

    Peter (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) find themselves on the run from golden goddess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), after dispatching a monster for her and gaining Gamora’s prickly sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) in return. Ayesha is not happy about Rocket stealing some items belonging to her people. In the pursuit, our gang of misfits escape to another planet with the help of a mysterious stranger. That stranger turns out to be Peter’s long lost Dad, Ego (Kurt Russell). It seems that Ego is a god with his own planet named after him and is keen to get in touch with his earthly son that he created all those years ago. Meanwhile, blue meanie Yondu (Michael Rooker) is dispatched by Ayesha to track down the gang…

    2014’s first film was a risk for Marvel, given that it was based on one of their lesser-known comic book properties. They like to take risks though, both knowing and trusting their audience to go along for the ride anyway. It turned out to be a blast, one of the most purely enjoyable superhero movies in recent years. Vol. 2, set to the soundtrack of Awesome Mixtape #2, doesn’t so much drop the ball as kick it out of the stratosphere. What a sequel – irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny, action-packed, emotional and stuffed with imagination. Take the opening titles for example, which initially seems like a big opening action sequence involving the aforementioned monster. Instead, we follow Baby Groot around to his own beat. Only in Marvel film.

    Having written last week’s blood-spattered, inventive office-based horror The Belko Experiment, James Gunn returns to this superhero franchise for both writing and directing duties. While it’s 15 minutes longer than its predecessor, every minute feels earned. You get more bang for your buck here, with Gunn expanding the Guardians universe and introducing new characters and races, while keeping all our heroes – and villains – in check. The tonal balance is well-judged, with the pacing just right. The introduction of Ego, and thereby the great Kurt Russell, is a stroke of genius. The casting is spot-on here, with Pratt playing off Russell like a younger version of the latter. The digitally de-aged Russell spotted early on is flawless too – much more so than the young Carrie Fisher in Rogue One. That swagger is certainly there in both characters and the emotional development of their relationship is at the core of the film. Family takes on a greater resonance here, but maybe the message is that family doesn’t have to mean blood relations.

    The film looks and sounds great too, making inventive use of the IMAX 3D when most 3D films are barely distinguishable from regular 2D. Given that superhero sequels are expected to be dark, both in themes and visual style, Vol. 2 is a riot of colour and fabulously designed sets, costumes and make-up. Marvel just don’t do ‘dark’. They can leave that to DC. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is simply Marvel-ous and sets a high bar for the summer to come. ****

  • Clive Bower

    Really hard to follow up the original brilliant film but they did a very good job of it here , the story could have been stronger but was great fun from the beginning until the very end and by very end i mean stay until the final credits

  • emerb

    Back in 2014, who could ever have guessed that a quirky sci-fi film featuring an irascible talking raccoon,an adorable sapling tree, a deadpan ex-wrestler, a fierce green warrior woman, and a smart-ass young bloke would be such a rip roaring success? Well, it may have been Marvel Studios’ biggest gamble to date but Guardians was a pure joy, combining humour, action, sentiment and the best soundtrack of the decade, bar none! Director James Gunn wonderfully demonstrated how a band of characters that were barely known beyond hardcore comic-book fans could transform into a motley group of charismatic and colourful characters that felt original and immediately lovable. Gunn is back at the helm for “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” and I’m happy to report that it does not fall flat, as so many sequels tend to do. In fact Gunn has cleverly crafted a sequel that is not only hysterical and touching but it also keeps the focus on the characters we fell for first time around while adding even more awesomeness into the mix. This time around, The Guardians Of The Galaxy – Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), are running for their lives from an alien race called The Sovereign, when they receive help from an unexpected source: Ego, The Living Planet, an ancient being who claims to be Peter’s long-lost father.

    After their universe-rescuing victory in the original film, this new adventure begins with the Guardians being hired to take down a vicious space monster by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the egotistical high priestess of a superior alien race called the Sovereign. Following their easy victory, it’s not long before the gang quickly get themselves into trouble after Rocket steals a bunch of their precious batteries for himself. This causes an irked Ayesha to send her entire fleet of warships after them. While on the run, the team is rescued by an unexpected ally
    who emerges from a mysterious orb-like ship. He is a ruggedly handsome man named Ego (Russell) – an all-powerful Celestial who comes with a shock announcement – he is actually Peter’s long-lost father. He’s also accompanied by Mantis (scene-stealer Pom Klementieff), an empath who provides many comic moments. Along with Gamora and Dax, Quill heads to Ego’s planet, while Rocket and Baby Groot stick around to guard Nebula and repair the ship. A number of subplots run through the film with each of the characters, most of them dealing with family/friendship turmoil: Gamora must confront her antagonistic sister – the steely assassin Nebula (Karen Gillan) who wants vengeance, Peter’s “adopted” dad Yondu (Michael Rooker) is on the run with his fellow outlaw Ravagers after a run-in with his father figure Stakar (Sylvester Stallone), and Peter and Ego must confront each other as Peter learns the true reason why his Dad has been searching for him. Peter has lived with never having known his birth father and watching his single mother die of cancer. At first, Ego’s claims make Peter suspicious, but the more the two men bond, the closer they become. Needless to say, things don’t run as smoothly expected.

    With writer-director James Gunn returning, it’s no surprise that this film continues its fondness for 1970s rock music. That is evident from my favourite part of the film – the film’s opening credit sequence – which presents an absolutely hilarious
    action set-piece in which the incredibly cute Baby Groot is in the spotlight dancing to music. I just knew from that moment that the soundtrack was going to be fantastic and I was going to love the movie. It certainly has the same upbeat and lively spirit as the 2014 original, but it also boasts more spectacular visual and effects work, in particular with little Groot, whose sweetness and silliness is a constant comedic highlight, he just steals the show at every turn. It’s also more emotional and sentimental, the gang come to realise that, despite their huge differences, they function best together as one family (albeit a rather dysfunctional one!). It also experiments more with character relationships, familial rivalry and emotions too. The ragtag band of space heroes may battle for their lives, but the real stakes concern the cast chemistry and how they each make peace with estranged fathers, dangerous siblings and feuding comrades. As well
    as all the affable original crew, the ensemble makes room for new additions Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, who are both a perfect fit and will surely expand the film’s demographic reach. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a real winner – relatable, quirky, powerful and well-rounded but it’s the small quirky touches that really make such a big difference for me. While it might not be quite as fresh as the original, there is plenty to enjoy here and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. I’ve no doubt that solid reviews and a lack of direct competition will see this film top the list in blockbuster season and lead to significant returns.
    In fact, I believe number 3 has already been announced!