Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper)and baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) return as The Guardians of the Galaxy in the sequel GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

The Guardians successfully complete a job for a golden skinned race of aliens; easily-offended narcissists called The Sovereign. Their success is immediately ruined by Rocket’s decision to steal from their employer. This precipitates a chase and a space battle. Before this dispute is resolved, a powerful alien entity appears, claiming to be Peter’s long-lost father. Ego (Kurt Russell) is his name and he says he has been looking for Peter for more than thirty years. He has something important he wishes to share with his only biological child.

Chances are you’re going to love this sequel. Why? Because director James Gunn has worked his butt off creating an experience that reminds you of the original, while throwing a truckload of new stuff into the mix as well. The violence is stylised and PG. The language is mild. The visuals are over-cooked and busy. Ego’s home planet looks as green-screened and garishly fussy as the recent ALICE IN WONDERLAND 2, which is the point. One couldn’t describe Gunn as an elegant stylist, but he is enthusiastically generous about what he has to offer. And there is so much of everything. There are even more radio hits of the 1970s on mother Quill’s audio cassette, “Awesome Mix Volume 2”. More ‘splosions. More destruction. More comedic bickering within the rag-tag team of universe-defending, muscle-for-hire, The Guardians of the Galaxy.

There are new characters introduced and old ones reassessed. Yondu (Michael Rocker) is given greater depth regarding his role as Peter’s surrogate father. Thematically, this second movie is all about family. Like the Fast and Furious franchise, Guardians 2 declares that sometimes families are not necessarily your flesh and blood, but the crew who help you fight aliens for money or possibly they’re your street-racing, amateur secret-agent buddies. Step-sisters Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) have their own family issues to sort out if they can stop trying to kill each other. Add to this the cuteness overload of baby Groot, The Guardians beloved toddler-tree-alien, and it is clear that this sequel wants to be both a special effects extravaganza and a family sitcom.

Other new faces are French actress Pom Klementieff, a welcome addition as the antenna’d empath Mantis; Australia’s Elizabeth Debicki, who has been consistently excellent in supporting roles in THE GREAT GATSBY (2013) and television’s The Night Manager, and is rather good here as high priestess Ayesha, a villain worthy of Flash Gordon.

Fans of joining the dots in the continuum that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be slightly disappointed by the lack of pointers to the upcoming movies, despite five–count ’em five!–end credit scenes. As an aside, I for one wish there were even more Infinity Stones than the meagre six offered by the MCU.  How about a silver mirror one called The Disco Gem? Such are the dreams of a mere film critic. 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is big, loud, funny, slickly entertaining pop-corn science fiction. Currently in wide release in Australia. Duration:138 minutes. (8/10)

Phil has written for magazines, corporate videos, online ads, and even an app. He writes with one eye on the future, one eye on the past and a third eye on the Lotto numbers. His social bits are here.