Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 FILM REVIEW


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Director: James Gunn

Screenplay: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content

Running Time: 2 hours 16 minutes

**** out of *****

Photo: Marvel Studios

While saving the galaxy, Star-Lord and company find some unlikely allies in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, was still in the early years of what became known as 'Phase One' when producer Kevin Feige mentioned the possibility of a film version of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. At the time it certainly was a big gamble for the studio and fortunately when the film went into production they were at a point where they could take a risk. The biggest question mark and hurdle the studio faced was if the world was ready to accept a band of unknown misfit heroes which included a talking tree and a wise-cracking, gun-toting raccoon. The answer was a resounding yes as it unexpectedly became one of the studio's highest grossing properties. With the same cast and creative team behind the original returning, Vol. 2 presents an epic scale space opera with plenty of heart, humor and risks that ultimately pay off in the end.

Fans were left with a number of questions when the first film ended. The elephant in the room was who was Peter Quill's, aka Star-Lord, father. It's not a spoiler if I were to say that James Gunn's story revolves around Peter finding his father and if you've seen the trailer you know he does and who plays him. This reveal serves as an entry point into the overall theme that Gunn has chosen to explore throughout this film. It's all about family. FAST AND FURIOUS IN SPACE, if you will. This really gives Gunn and the actors the opportunity to really explore the bonds which these disparate characters share. As the film progresses you get the sense that they've been together long enough that they rib each other like family, they often know what each other is thinking and they quarrel like siblings. All of this family drama plays out in the midst of numerous, eye-opening and jaw-dropping action set pieces that simply must be seen in 3D, if possible.

Almost the entire main cast from the first film return for Vol. 2. Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Baby Groot), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Karen Gillan (Nebula) and Sean Gunn (Kraglin) return and their chemistry is spot on. It's only their second film together and they already feel like a seasoned crew akin to the STAR TREK or FAST AND FURIOUS casts. The banter, the comradery, the love, the hurt, the kinship comes through in every scene they share. Of course, credit must also be given to Gunn's writing and directing but the actors really helped bring the page to the screen. Joining the cast are Kurt Russell (Ego), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha) and Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord). Russell embodies everything you'd expect from the father of the Star-Lord. He has many engaging scenes with Pratt throughout the film. Klementieff is entertaining as an empath who develops an attachment to these heroes. Her scenes with Bautista are funny in particular. Debicki and Stallone's roles may seem small but are quite significant in the grand scheme of things.

Gunn clearly loves these characters and he really makes an effort to hammer home the familial bond. There are many scenes between characters that are quite poignant, touching and emotional. I won't say with whom but there's one scene between characters that I really enjoyed because it really provided depth and emotional resonance for two people who on the surface shouldn't have any common ground but together open up about themselves and discover how much alike they truly are. Heavy. As mentioned earlier, Gunn allows these moments to unfold while chaos reigns in the background and he assuredly brings order to the said chaos. VOL. 2 is easily a much bigger film, a much more effects heavy film and a much more story driven film than VOL. 1. There is much more humor in this film and some moments fall flat while others are laugh-out-loud funny. By the way, the visual effects are top notch in this one and should be seen in 3D if possible.

I enjoyed GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. I liked the first one a little bit better primarily because it was something new, fresh and original. While watching VOL. 2 thoughts of FAST & FURIOUS and even STAR TREK V came to mind. Not so much in terms of perceived quality but in terms of character arcs and scenes. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. For every moment that I wasn't feeling it there were at least two others that got me right back on board. Regardless I love these characters and this was an entertaining and insightful...human adventure. An adventure which continues to play out throughout the film's end credits. Also, it's one worth taking in 3D especially in IMAX.

Rating Scale:

***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average

*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal

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