Before we begin, the Soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is as awesome as they say, so you should be buying it right now and playing it on repeat.
It’s playing as I write this.
We all know the 2nd of any movie series lays the groundwork for future movies. More character development, more new characters, cameos, and a sacrifice. It’s the law of franchises because the 3rd movie (and there will be a 3rd) will be a kick-ass, mind-blowing cavalcade of coolness. You can go ahead and quote me on this right now. That said, this movie doesn’t drag in the usual character exposition. We’re learning on the fly, as it were, and it’s not dumbed down for us comic n00bs. It’s a nice change of pace.
Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his band of Guardians continue to save the Galaxy. Their latest lucrative mission for a race calling themselves the Sovereign goes well enough until Rocket gives into his baser instinct. The chase across the cosmos leads to an unexpected encounter with a Celestial (little ‘g’ god) named Ego (Kurt Russel). Ego bridges the climax of Volume 1 and teaches Peter the ways of being an invulnerable being and answering all sorts of uncomfortable questions about his mother.
Rocket (Bradley Cooper) grapples with issues of belonging and team building, Drax (Dave Bautista) is the smart intellectual in the room who can’t help but be a forthright jerk, and Gamora (Zoe Salanda) at least doesn’t fall into the trap of being “the love interest.” She has purpose hosing down the testosterone and bringing a rational mind to the conversation.
I’ll let you fall in love with Baby Groot all on your own.
Meanwhile Yondu (Michael Rooker) tapped by the Sovereign is on the hunt for the Miranda. Even outlaws have a code, and Yondu’s crew violated it by trafficking in children, so they’re outlaws among the outlaws. Yondu’s soft spot for Peter and his crew is more than his crew can handle and he suffers a mutiny. It’s bad and funny and is a strong reminder that there is no honor among thieves.
Nebula (Karen Gillian) is back, and she’s really angry. Her single-minded purpose is psychotic, but we get some backstory. It’s sad and tragic and her perennial mood absolutely makes sense, even if her actions seem extreme – but it doesn’t make it any less one-dimensional. Yes, she was driving part of the plot, but “I’m Angry All The Time Because Daddy Loved You Best” gets old, fast.
Overall, this movie is just FUN. GotGV2 doesn’t dwell on why stuff happens, it just does and you hang on. Marvel does with movies, what DC wishes it could accomplish, and that’s connect with audiences. I’m not a comic book person, so I can’t comment on canon or continuity, but what I can say about the Marvel Universe movies I’ve seen is I can relate to them. Of course not as an enhanced or super smart being who saves the world, but as a person with work issues or sibling issues or general feelings of teamwork. Forget that DC is gritty and mired in realism – Marvel movies are just fun.
The Sovereign fighting safely and remotely in pods the size of smart cars, Yondu’s arrow, the Knowhere – ALL OF IT IS JUST COOL. DC – remember what it was like to be cool and then weep for your lost youth.
I will always quibble about movies in IMAX. I know it’s the wave of the future, but it’s so heavy handed it’s distracting. Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I really dislike my peripheral vision blurry, and it’s almost all peripheral vision. Save your money. You don’t need the IMAX 3-D experience to enjoy this movie. The picture and sound are incredible all on its own, and it doesn’t seem as loud as Vol 1 – which is good. I don’t need my eardrums blown out to have a good time.
Guardians of the Galaxy is rated PG-13 for language, minor suggestive content, and over the top action and space violence.
AND – stick around through the end of the credits. Lots of post-credit goodies, plus great music for chair-dancing.