Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 avoids the dreaded sequelitis by sticking with the first film’s winning formula while expanding the Guardians’ universe. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is, as expected, jam-packed with over-the-top action scenes and plenty of humor, but it also ventures into more emotional territory. This sequel delves into dysfunctional family relationships but adroitly balances the more personal, character-driven storylines with good-humored fun and hijinks to keep the mood light. (No need to worry…Marvel hasn’t gone all Batman/Superman-ish.)
The film begins with an entertaining, high-energy fight sequence featuring Groot dancing and attempting to fight like a big boy, all while his friends take on a gigantic lethal creature in the background. The scene’s the perfect opening number for this wild thrill ride which pivots from intense action to full-on comedy to relationship drama without skipping a beat. Peter Quill finally meeting his real father, Ego (Kurt Russell), is the film’s overarching plot, however writer/director James Gunn does a terrific job of giving each of the Guardians, as well as Yondu (Michael Rooker), well-deserved time to move the story forward.
It’s mostly upbeat and occasionally silly, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also contains some surprisingly heartfelt moments. When not trying to kill each other, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), attempt to work out their issues although neither are willing to accept full blame. Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) search for his father leads him to a shocking discovery about his own place in the universe, and forces him to confront his missing father as well as the man who actually raised him. Meanwhile, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) reveals his tough exterior is just a facade that masks a truly sensitive creature.
Drax (Dave Bautista) spends much of the film laughing at the expense of his fellow Guardians and denying his attraction to the antennae empath, Mantis (Pom Klementieff). And for those on #TeamGroot, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s little scene-stealing tree with the extremely limited vocabulary provides many of the film’s biggest laughs.
Returning director James Gunn was presented with the near-impossible job of creating a sequel worthy of his first Guardians of the Galaxy film, and the finished product proves he was more than up to the task. The first film opened on August 1, 2014, ringing up $94 million over its opening weekend in domestic release before going on to a massive $773 million worldwide theatrical release gross. This second film deserves to match those numbers, serving up pretty much everything fans of the first movie could possibly want and more.
Vol. 2 is incredibly entertaining with spectacular special effects, killer soundtrack, and a top-notch ensemble cast. The humor’s snarky, the film’s fast-paced, and there’s the added bonus of more emotional depth to this second film of the series. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the perfect way to kick off the summer of 2017 in theaters, setting the bar high for the major studio releases still to come in June, July, and August.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Directed By: James Gunn
Running Time: 136 minutes