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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Movie Review

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy was a satisfying break from the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, opening the floodgates to the possibilities this ever expanding series of films can offer. One can even make the argument it’s not even a superhero film in the traditional sense. James Gunn brought another direction to the franchise and was seemingly allowed to cut loose with this space adventure and the loveable set of criminals he assembled. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 retains much of the charm, spirited humour and character interplay of its predecessor with some inventive action and stakes thrown into the mix.

Gunn sets the tone early on with a humourous opening titles sequence with Baby Groot dancing to “Mr. Blue Sky”, while a lavish fight scene occurs in the background. That jovial nature allows the Guardians of the Galaxy films to stand out and Gunn has a clear love and admiration for the varied personalities on screen. He somehow is able to give the proper screen time to everyone, even when they separate on occasion. Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is given the most focus as the film addresses the open ended questions regarding his father. Gunn’s screenplay more than handles the difficulty that comes with finding your true parentage and Quill’s shock and eventual acceptance is portrayed with the proper sincerity. Credit also goes to Pratt’s continuingly charming performance and the addition of Kurt Russell as his father Ego. This franchise has embraced its 1980s aesthetic and musical palette, making Russell a fitting choice.

Most of the comic relief falls to Rocket Raccoon, who Bradley Cooper plays with such utter delight and the animators imbue with a lot of personality. Yet he is given his own solid arc and teaming him up with Michael Rooker’s Yondu was an inspired story decision that pays off in a surprising way. Marvel villains have traditionally been weak with simple one-dimensional world domination plans. Not so in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with the Guardians being frequently pursued by a planet of gold aliens. Cleverly designed, the Sovereigns’ personal beef makes sense and Elizabeth Debicki appears to relish playing their leader. Gunn even finds a clever solution in lessening the body count and manages to show their vulnerabilities and emotions in clever and humourous ways.  The makeup team and production designers are at the top of their game, with this film having almost a Royal Vegas online video slots vibe in its presentation.

The action sequences that are littered through Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are directed with the proper punch by Gunn. They are not merely flashy special effects scenes, but rather showcase the strength and unity between the Guardians. The new additions to the gang do not disrupt the chemistry and flow, but rather bring new elements to the table. Pom Klementieff is a delight as Mantis, who share some nice scenes with Dave Bautista’s Drax. Karen Gillan felt underused in the previous film, but Nebula is thankfully given a lot more to do this time around. Surprisingly, there is little connective tissue with the other Marvel Universe films, even in the multiple mid-credits scenes. This further proves the freedom James Gunn is given to go wild with the property.

Producer Kevin Feige and his Marvel Studios have managed to keep an impressively consistent quality in this Cinematic Universe, even with the rare disappointment here and there. However, the Guardians of the Galaxy series stands above the other films. James Gunn has managed to blend his off-kilter Troma sensibilities with the big budget action spectacles commonly associated with the Marvel name. The creativity and imagination of the thousands of names working in the various departments are splashed in every frame of both films and the humour succeeds in making us care about these distinct characters. Even with their eventual meet-up with the Avengers just around the corner, the Guardians of the Galaxy still exist in their own world and what a glorious universe it is.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison