Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Jacob Richardson | 25/04/2017

James Gunn is back with the sequel to his wildly successful Guardians of the Galaxy, and while Vol. 2 doesn’t quite match the feverish, rebellious spirit of the first, it is still a rip-roaring space adventure anchored in comedy.

After saving the galaxy in the last film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 finds our eponymous heroes on a planet inhabited by the genetically engineered species called The Sovereign. Unwilling to get their perfect hands dirty fighting a giant space beast that is coming to steal their much renowned batteries, they hire the Guardians. Alas, after Rocket (Bradley Cooper) steals some of the batteries, the gang finds themselves in a race across space, trying to outrun a fleet of vengeful Sovereign ships. They crash land on a planet, with Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) ship in need of significant repairs. While there, a pristine white egg-shaped space ship lands, and reveals a saviour – Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russel), who professes to be Peter’s dad. Taking Peter, Gamorra (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) to his home planet, Ego seems like their benevolent saviour, but with the Sovereign and the Ravagers on the Guardian’s tails, will he be?


The first Guardians of the Galaxy was an important movie. James Gunn re-invented the superhero genre, taking it back from the brink of irretrievable grit and grime, and instead infusing it with witty asides, hilarious characters and unbridled fun. It also had a strong plot, with the ‘origin story’ template providing enough characterisation to wither his barrage of in-references, jokes and inconceivable plot twists. With this second instalment, Gunn shakes things up. With no origin story giving each character their own chance to shine, he portrays a varying array of emotions amongst the five. Gamorra is struggling with sister issues, Rocket feels like he is on the verge of abandonment and Peter is having a cosmic shift in his perception of paternity. While all of this makes for great character drama, it does tend to sap the fun from these three. Where Quill and Rocket’s banter in the first movie was sparring and enjoyable, here it grates; the extra layer of subtext forcing us to contemplate the deeply troubling emotional state of this kidnapped human far from Earth and his genetically engineering racoon friend.


Thankfully, the supporting cast steps up to deliver the much vaunted fun. As Drax, Dave Bautista’s beautifully filter-free alien is the funniest part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Coupled with Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ego’s emotion-controlling charge who finds social cues utterly foreign, the pair aggressively laugh their way through a films worth of quality jokes that will have you laughing out loud. Kurt Russel’s Ego is also a standout. With a perfectly coiffed main and some truly stunning set design, he and his ‘living planet’ are resplendent.


Without a doubt, though, Baby Groot steals the show. The opening fight scene, with the other four Guardians fighting off a giant, disgusting monster, while Baby Groot dances and jives his way around them, is exactly what Guardians should be! It is fun, irascible and utterly improbable. It is the best part of a movie full of this sort of ridiculousness, and so is Baby Groot. One particularly nasty Ravager describes him as being “too adorable to kill”, and this is undoubtedly true.


Like the first film, this second instalment brings with it a cracking soundtrack and a tonne of references to Marvel lore. While the ending to the relatively zig-zagging plot may not have quite the emotional or entertaining heft of the original, this sequel doubles down on the fun and the visual splendour, making it just as worthy of your time.


Not as strong story-wise as the first Guardians, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 still combines stunning production design, cinematography and a remarkable roster of characters to hold its spot as the most fun superhero franchise to date.