I have to start this review by being upfront: Talking about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in anything but the most vague terms would be irresponsible. It would be a crime to not let you go into the theater with as little knowledge of what is in store for you as possible. But alas, I am tasked with providing a review, so here we go.
Bottom line, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is more Guardians-y than the original. It’s been reported that Director James Gunn felt freer to make this film in his own mold and not because Marvel restricted him previously, but because his confidence in his sensibilities carrying a Marvel film are now proven. The qualities that made the original film unique among the deluge of super hero films has returned in spades. In fact, this film may be the most fun Marvel film yet.
For those that have no clue what you’re in for, this film takes place a few months after the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter Quill (Star-Lord) is faced with learning about his father while trying to keep his fragile team together, despite various goals that don’t always align.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 once again has an “awesome mixtape” for a soundtrack, which plays an even more central role in this film than it did in the first. That being said, it’s by no means a rehash as writer-director James Gunn uses the soundtrack with new direction and to underline different emotions. And in case you were wondering, Baby Groot is as cute as you would expect.
Make no mistake, this film is hilarious. The antics of Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, and even Gamora grounds a film with such a vast cosmic scope. Even the standard issue “Marvel shirtless scene” is funny, but the film doesn’t just rely on humor and has a strong emotional component. While revealing too much would spoil the fun, the film dances around the concept that there is a fine line between a team and a family. And while you may predict where the film is headed, it’s such a pleasure to get there that you don’t mind.
Speaking of family, I was excited to hear that Disney Legend Kurt Russell would play Peter Quill’s father. Unfortunately, my only qualm with the film is his character. To be clear, Mr. Russell plays the part perfectly, it’s just that the audience isn’t given enough time to understand his character’s motivations. I know comic book movies are often taken to task for “monologuing” to explain complicated intents and concepts, but it’s a genre cliche because it works so well. I have faith that if Mr. Gunn had given this character as much attention as others, he could have come up with a fun way to explain what is happening.
But this is not a film about Peter Quill’s father, this is a film about his entire family, including teammates old and new. Because of that, the film is still a great success. The humor is inventive, but the heart of the movie is what takes it to the next level. Strong performances by Michael Rooker (Yondu) and Sean Gunn (Kraglin) provide some of the finest acting you’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That emotion does not come at the expense of humor. Sean Gunn also has double duties, as he is the on-set performer for Rocket, who is voiced by Bradley Cooper (and brother of Director James Gunn, in case the name threw you).
For those on the geekier side of the scale, there are a lot of fun cameos and references that only the most die-hard Marvel fan might catch. And on a related note, stay all the way through the credits. Obviously.
I give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 4 1/2 out of 5 Walkmans.
FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World