‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Sequel Cranks Up The Volume [Review]
Marvel’s lovable gang of outcasts and misfits, The Guardians of the Galaxy are back for Volume 2, another highly enjoyable roller coaster of a space adventure with enough heart and humor to fill an entire planet.
Picking up not long after the 2014 origin film that introduced The Guardians to the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Chris Pratt (Jurassic World) is back as Peter Quill, a smartass who was abducted from Earth as a child after watching his mom die from brain cancer and has since renamed himself Star Lord. He is joined once again by the green skinned badass Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana (Avatar), as well as the hulking good-humored Drax (Dave Bautista), the genetically engineered talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the absolutely adorable Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).
While the first Guardians outing was a welcomed breath of fresh air filled with laugh out loud moments, old school wisecracking banter, and out of this world spectacle, the Volume 2 sequel hits too many familiar beats to be quite as fresh, but it is still an undeniably fun ride.
Kurt Russell is right at home as a living planet known fittingly as Ego, who also happens to be Quill’s long lost father, which leads to some touching scenes that resonate even more strongly when successfully juxtaposed with the happenings of Michael Rooker’s Yandu, who abducted the future Star Lord all those years ago and subsequently served as his adoptive father, for better or worse.
Rooker has always given excellent performances throughout his long career, but Volume 2 is easily a milestone moment both for the tough but suffering character he embodies and for the talented actor, who is given the full spotlight of center stage in a massive summer blockbuster to shine.
As Quill must face tough revelations about his “real” dad versus the one that actually raised him, the motif extends even further to that of the cynical, ranting Rocket becoming somewhat of a parental figure to Baby Groot.
In fact, the whole movie is wrapped up in themes of family, be it broken families, blended families, or maybe even mended families, which brings us to the sequel’s biggest highlight, Karen Gillan’s return as Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who we saw too little of in the first film but is back in her full blue and metal glory for pretty much the duration of Volume 2.
Gillan all but steals the movie with Nebula’s utter hatred for her sister and their father, who is the biggest bad guy in the MCU, the purple tyrant Thanos, and we can’t help but cheer for her. Her resentment of Gamora is born out of Thanos’ physical and psychological abuse of them both as children, which digs deep when once again juxtaposed with Quill’s reunion with a father he so longed for and never knew.
It all raises interesting questions among each of the emotionally lost characters as to what makes a family, be it blood or something even deeper.
Sylvester Stallone has a fun cameo appearance, which seemed to me to echo his old Judge Dredd role but is ultimately revealed to be something much different, a vital piece of the Guardians’ comic book history.
Newcomer Pom Klementieff is also introduced as Mantis, an unfiltered and sheltered “empath” who can feel other people’s emotions whenever she touches them and can also influence those emotions as well.
One of the best things about the first Guardians was director James Gunn’s brilliant compilation of classic rock era songs used to pitch-perfect effect throughout film, and if Volume 2 outdoes its predecessor in any department, it has to be its updated “awesome mixtape #2” of a soundtrack, once again using strategically placed well-known songs to create a unique atmosphere of warm familiarity amid the bombast of space battles and alien enemies.
As wild and unconventional as they are, the Guardians may just hold the key to help Earth’s mightiest heroes stop Thanos from destroying everything in next year’s Marvel mashup Avengers: Infinity War, but for now we’re just happy to see them being a family, loving and fighting with each other, saving the Galaxy like only they can …again.
Official Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (rated PG13) is now playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills.