Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back for more adventures backed by another Awesome Mix tape.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit for Marvel Studios, as many assumed the lesser-known superhero team would struggle to draw in fans like their Marvel stablemates the Avengers.
However, its killer 1970s infused Awesome Mix tape soundtrack, raucous humour and James Gunn’s adept direction made it one of 2014’s must-see movies.
As a result, Gunn had a lot to live up to with his second instalment, and he more than managed to do so with the sequel's epic opening, where the gang are battling a grotesque space monster on behalf of Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the Sovereign, a genetically engineered race.
Set to Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr Blue Sky, this opening is an instant reminder of why audiences fell in love with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket the raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista).
Now a sapling after the events of the first film, Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) isn’t much use in the fight, but dances away while his comrades protect valuable cosmic batteries belonging to the Sovereign.
Despite completing their task successfully and securing Gamora’s evil sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) as their prisoner in return, the Guardians uneasy working relationship with Ayesha turns sour after Rocket steals the batteries they were supposed to be guarding.
They are pursued across the galaxy by the Sovereign’s remotely controlled ships, which are suddenly taken out by a powerful force.
Their saviour reveals himself as Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Quill’s father.
This revelation splits the team, as Gamora and Drax join their friend as he takes a trip to his dad’s home planet to discover more about his origins.
Rocket and Baby Groot stay behind to fix their ship and ensure Nebula does not escape.
Ego’s appearance introduces the overwhelming theme of the film - family and the emotional loyalty you owe to your nearest and dearest.
Peter is torn between his newly acquired father and Gamora, who treats his dad with scepticism.
Drax strikes up an unlikely relationship with Ego’s insectoid helpmate Mantis (Pom Klementieff ), an ‘empath’ who can feel and alter emotions.
Back with the ship, Nebula escapes when Yondu (Michael Rooker), who raised Peter in the first film, arrives to hunt the Guardians on behalf of the Sovereign.
Rocket finds himself imprisoned alongside Yondu after a mutiny, and begins to realise his deliberate obnoxiousness may be masking an emotional void.
Despite this theme, the film does not have a strong emotional tone, instead ladling on the jokes, pop culture references and action as thickly as possible.
The result is that the sugar rush that made the first film such a joy has turned a little syrupy in the sequel.
Individually, each gag or music-backed action sequence is thoroughly enjoyable, but by the time we reach the film's second and third acts, the endless flippancy becomes a little wearing.
That said, there’s still a lot to like about this frantic follow-up.
Drax’s lack of emotional awareness makes for some of the funniest moments, while Rocket and Yondu form a cantankerous double act that wouldn’t be out of place in its own buddy movie, and Baby Groot provokes laughs every time he appears on screen.
However, a plot that does little other than drag the characters from one hazardous situation to another means that Vol.
2 lacks the emotional punch of its predecessor, the jokes sometimes feel a little forced and the action isn’t quite as thrilling as it should be given the stunning special effects.
Returning to visit the Guardians of the Galaxy for a second time is still a lot of fun - but not the unmitigated joy it was when the wisecracking superhero team first appeared on our screens.
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