The Gang’s All Here
Reviewed by Mason Manuel
Marvel’s biggest surprise hit team is back to once again save us from conventional Marvel tropes. Space Avengers they may be, but the heart and bond between these fantastic characters are just as strong as their first go round and show no signs of slowing. Though director James Gunn fails to capture lightening in a bottle twice, that doesn’t stop the film from being any less fun than its predecessor.
The guardians have recovered from their spat with dispensable Marvel villain #54 and are enjoying their life being the sort of antihero space pirates we know and love. All of the initial team are back with actors Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Bradley Cooper playing Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket respectively. Even Vin Diesel is back the voice over-role of the century, Baby Groot. The acting team works terrifically together showing that they have just as much fun working together as they ever did. Elizabeth Debiki comes in as Kismet, A.K.A dispensable Marvel villain #55 unfortunately, though she gives her best with her dry, monotone character. The conflict between Kismet and the Guardians is on shaky ground at best to deserve the romping chase they go through but conflict is only one aspect of Guardians Volume 2.
The main issue the film suffers is it’s pacing, mainly in its’ second act. Initially meeting up with the loveable team again is great and accompanied by yet another fun, dancing-in-the-aisles worthy soundtrack. But later the Guardians find themselves split up and fighting alone or with one other team member and this is where the films highs and lows exist simultaneously. A great part about the team is just that; they are a team and they are best when they work together. Splitting them up into some unpredictable scenarios and alliances is certainly a risky move and to the film’s credit, it does occasionally pay off, especially with Rocket and Michael Rooker’s blue as can be Yondu. Other tiny team ups just don’t have the same oomph to them though and that detracts from the movie’s main draw of the team becoming more of a family.
Speaking of which, family is a huge theme of the story this time around, with the previews making it no secret that Star Lord’s dad is Ego the Living planet played by Kurt Russel. The chemistry between actors Pratt and Russell is electric and immediately believable as a father and son dynamic. It is made very clear that the actors are having a ball with the fun their characters are having and it meshes with the overall tone of the film wonderfully. The story also delves a little deeper into romance for a number of characters, the validity of which I will sit back and let you be the judge of. The interactions are always a guaranteed laugh though some feel a tough more awkward than they should.
Visually, James Gunn goes full blown with a 70’s color palate, decking his world in bright neon and flashy hues of orange and gold. Marvel films are rarely praised for their visual activity seeing as how they normally look rather similar but Gunn still manages to stay a touch ahead of the curve with some smart design. Mesh that with some fun action scenes and well-choreographed chases and you have yourself a hell of a good time.
The Guardians don’t fall into the hole that most MCU sequels do by taking the original premise and just throwing more money at it but it is undeniable that some of the initial charm is lost in the second iteration. Nevertheless, the combination of great acting and fun dialogue meshed with some fantastic music make Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume Two a tune you’ll want to crank up. RDR gives it a 7.5 out of 10.