Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
By Matthew Huntley
May 16, 2017
Supposed definition of a good Hollywood sequel: a movie that continues, rather than simply repeats, the original story and develops the characters further. If this is true, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a sequel to the much-beloved Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), should be considered great. Not only does it continue the original's story and expand the characters' personal stories, it does so with wit, humor, and, surprisingly, emotion. And it's real, earned emotion, not sappy or artificial. Nevertheless, fans of the first film, based on a lesser known Marvel Comics property (of course), can rest assured knowing Vol. 2 retains the same irreverent, flippant attitude to keep things spicy and moving. It's a sequel all right, but it's fresh and exciting and not preoccupied with merely doing the same things as before.
This is all the more unexpected given how financially successful the original Guardians of the Galaxy was, which would make one think the studio and filmmakers would try to recreate the same magic to better ensure fan turnout, and thus, profitability. But to the credit of writer-director James Gunn and his crew, the goal seems to be creating another kind of magic, and with new, interesting characters at their disposal and new depths applied to pre-existing ones, they're able to do just that.
Plot-wise, things more or less pick up from when we last left our squabbling interstellar friends - Peter, a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), a sort of Han Solo wannabe; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green-skinned alien with superhuman abilities; Drax (Dave Bautista), the former human turned muscle-bound being who often breaks out into uncontrollable laughter; Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), the competitive, foul-mouthed raccoon; and Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), a talking tree with limited speech and intelligence but an undeniably adorable face (it remains a mystery to me why Vin Diesel was even cast given that his voice is so electronically manipulated, but never mind).
After the events of the first film, this motley crew of former thieves and hunters have been charged with protecting the chaotic cosmos in various ways, shapes and forms. Their latest job finds them battling a giant, slug-like space creature in order to retrieve valuable batteries for the Sovereign race, and of course the team members are all arguing with one another about how it should be done. Peter thinks Gamora should use a sword instead of a gun; Drax thinks punching it from the inside will do the trick; Rocket thinks he has a better chance of maneuvering around the creature compared to Peter; and Baby Groot, well, he just drowns everything out while listening to ELO's “Mr. Blue Sky.” This diverse unit still has a love-hate relationship, but they know, just as we do, they've become not just a protective mercenary group, but an unorthodox family.
In fact, it will be their familial ties that get tested the most as the plot continues to unfold. After the Guardians defeat the monster and deliver the batteries, the Sovereign leaders hand over Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora's sister, who holds a deep-rooted grudge against Gamora for not protecting her from their adopted abusive father when they were kids. Nebula vows to destroy Gamora the first chance she gets, and as if she weren't enough trouble, Rocket, for no other reason than to prove he can, actually re-steals the batteries they just returned. The Sovereigns consequently send a fleet of drones after the Guardians and nearly obliterate their ship, but they're rescued by the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell), who reveals himself as Peter's long-lost father (his romantic affair with Peter's mother opens the film).