Back in 2014, Disney’s Marvel Studios decided to take a gamble with an experimental little movie called, The Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie was quite different than the others. Since 2008, they had concentrated on summer blockbusters featuring well-known heroes like Captain America, Thor, Hulk and the ever-so-popular Iron Man which all appeared together for the first time in 2012’s The Avengers. So when Disney decided to make a comic book film that takes place in an entirely different galaxy featuring characters that include a talking raccoon and a walking/talking tree that only says his own name, audiences were caught off guard. These characters were established on paper prior to the release, but only avid comic readers knew anything about them. It was up to the marketing to sell this movie to a wide audience full of mainstream moviegoers and casual comic fans. With a trailer that was heavy on humor, sci-fi action, retro music and ‘80s nostalgia, it proved to stand out from the rest while attracting a large enough viewership to become the highest grossing film in the studio’s history at that point. Three years later, the inevitable follow-up is upon us cleverly titled The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The original was lightning in a bottle, but I can safely tell you that lightning has struck twice.
This sequel opens shortly after the events of the last film and the Guardians have still recently earned their respectable positions as the galaxy’s designated team of protectors. Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord), Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot (this time starting over as an infant) all return as the ragtag crew sent to save the galaxy once again while encountering Peter’s true father, Ego (played to perfection by Kurt Russell) and embarking on a quest to discover his true parentage. Meanwhile, Rocket, Groot and Yondu are taken prisoner by Yondu’s former crew mates.
What I appreciate most about this film is the different feel that is has compared to the original. It absolutely refuses to rehash the previous plot or simply give you more of the same things you loved before. Courtesy of James Gunn’s direction and his complete understanding of these characters second time around, the film takes time in the middle portion to depart from the entertaining action and develop these beloved characters even further. This allows the audience to really soak in who they are and what their relationship has become. Even Yondu, who proved to be an intriguing support character in the first one, is given far more screen time, development and relevance to the story. However, most of this time is directed at Peter as it centers on the discovery of his biological father and his place in the universe. A lot of backstory is given about him which really adds to the hero’s appeal and why he is the way he is. All of this of course leads into an action-packed final act, but the appropriate development strongly helps this film to maintain a fresh narrative ranking it as a worthy sequel to the spectacular original.
One of the glaring issues these Marvel movies often face is that of a lackluster villain. While I can’t spoil any of the film’s twists and turns, I can assure you that the villain is a vast improvement over many of the dull and forgettable villains of the past. This antagonist is executed wonderfully and it was by far one of the highlights of this satisfying next chapter. If I had to list any negatives, it would really only fall under the film’s comedy. While much of the humor is warranted, it seems like this movie is trying a little too hard to be funnier than the original. This isn’t a huge problem, but it does allow some of the jokes to seem a tad forced at times. Most of them hit, but some fall flat.
I had a blast with this movie! As a huge fan of the first, I would say that this one is almost as enjoyable. It is good to know that Marvel can make a great sequel that doesn’t have the name “Captain America” in the title. The chemistry between our heroes is better than ever, the soundtrack (composed of a new list of pop hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s) is stellar, the character development completely strengthened the story and I can’t wait for Vol. 3. Be sure to stay through the credits as it has an unprecedented total of five post-credit scenes. If you are a fan of the first, then I can guarantee you will enjoy the second almost as much if not more. Check out The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 playing in theaters everywhere.