Director: James Gunn
Producer: Kevin Feige
Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito
Written by: James Gunn
Based on: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki
If you enjoyed the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the chances are you will also enjoy this joyful follow-up, imaginatively titled ‘Vol. 2’. A fast paced, playfully psychedelic scene early on re-introduces the five main characters from the first film in what appears to be an entertaining yet largely irrelevant action sequence that serves no real purpose other than to dazzle.
This sequence does end up having some plot relevance later, but more than that, it helps re-familiarise viewers with the main characters or introduce them to those people who might not have seen the previous outing. Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), part human/part something else and his gang of frenemies have lent themselves out for hire as mercenaries in the months since the events of the previous film ended.
Peter’s encounter with someone claiming to be his father helps drive the central storyline but there are plenty of sub-plots to keep the action zinging along.
Twiglet Groot has grown into an adorable toddler version (huge merchandising opportunities abound!) who loves music. The cuteness quotient threatens to overtake the film’s edgier moments but luckily, baby Groot hasn’t lost its ruthless killer instinct which helps balance things out.
Where the first film focussed on introducing the characters of this offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how they came to be a kind of connected group, the second film takes time to explore themes of family, growing up, belonging and searching for something that sometimes turns out to be much closer than originally thought. Family dynamics, parent-child and sibling relationships are all explored or experienced by the main characters, and there is more ‘quiet’ time for revealing most of their histories, which helps explain a lot of their behaviour or motivations.
Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) still gets most of the best lines, delivered in his deadpan way, where his honest desire to be helpful often comes across as hurtful. Rocket (voiced with gravelly menace by Bradley Cooper) demonstrates his deadly fighting skills while confronting his own ghosts, assisted by blue Ravager Yondu Udonto (Michael Rooker) whose lethal arrow causes entertaining carnage and mayhem in one memorable sequence.
As with the first movie, music is important in establishing mood. Whether it’s ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ in an early, super-playful scene, or travelling with the Guardians to a paradise accompanied by George Harrison’s classic, ‘My Sweet Lord’, or getting reflective with Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’, the choice of songs overall work incredibly well.
The costumes range from gorgeous, especially those of the Sovereign Queen (Elizabeth Debnicki) and her people, to highly unusual, and many of the sets, planets and ship interiors are so incredibly imaginative and beautifully realised that it’s like being inside an enormous kaleidoscopic theme park ride.
The novelty factor of the first film is obviously no longer there, but the situations, humour, character development and multiple plots of this second outing coalesce by the end into a joyful explosion of colour, movement and resolution (of sorts). Under no circumstances should you leave before the very last credit has finished because there are some additional scenes that hint at the promise of continuing adventures. Bring them on!