Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Sean Gunn, Steve Agee, Rob Zombie, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Miley Cyrus

Rated: PG-13 (sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content)

Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

By Cole Schneider

Marvel’s more boorish and less celebrated team just turned in a much better sequel than The Avengers did in two years ago. This second volume promised the same flurry of laughs as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and it certainly follows through on its comic promises, but it’s story construction is not only tighter than its predecessor, but it’s tighter than probably any of Marvel’s films since “The Avengers”. While the story execution is imperfect—in particular, much of the exposition that lacks a punchline is very clearly lacking a punchline—what “Vol. 2” gives us is a crisis big enough to threaten the galaxy, but intimate enough to maintain clear emotional stakes.

“GotGV2” offers up a large cast of characters whose defining quality isn’t their wit, which would have been the easy crutch to lean on, but instead a balance of strength and vulnerability. Who is Peter Quill? Yes he’s funny, but no one will come away from “Vol. 2” with such a quick response. He’s a complicated soul in need of healing. Same goes for his Guardian-mates Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and even baby Groot; although they each make contributions to the film’s wisecracking tone, they each carry an emotional weight that is sustained and fairly transformed throughout the narrative. Other characters such as Yondu and Nebula deepen their arcs decidedly and newcomers Mantis and Ego round out the film’s impressive number of characters with well-formed psychologies, each given enough attention within the well-constructed script to bring the story to a surprising poignancy. GotGV2 earns every bit of its climax and resolution and the ride to that point has plenty of thrills, humor, and visual delight.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

By Matt Greene

Guardians…Vol. 2 will definitely please fans of the first film (i.e. basically everyone) in the irreverent space-saga. Sure, it’s bigger spectacled and deeper themed, but its real strength lies in its smaller moments of character and humor. In fact, when the words being spoken aren’t jokes, corny exposition and telegraphed subtext sneak to the surface (“Sometimes we don’t realize what we need is right there all along.”). Thankfully, director Gunn deftly redeems each less-than-stellar story moment with cheeky jokes and surprising humanity.

If the first was New Hope, then Vol. 2 is Empire, as we find Starlord (Pratt) dealing with his own daddy issues (Russell), as the universe at large is fighting a bigger (though possibly related) battle. The action scenes have cinematic flair and dramatic heft, but the charm is still 100% dependent upon its tongue being so firmly placed in its cheek in subversive and unexpected ways. The music is a smile-inducing mix of 70s and 80s power pop, Rocket is still drolly hot-headed, Drax is still hilariously literal, Baby Groot is adorably violent, and new addition Mantis fits in snugly.

So why isn’t this consider among Marvel’s best for me? Well, as a longtime Marvel Studios zombie, I hate to admit it, but these MCU outings are finally starting to feel a bit same-y. Lots of parental problems, brightly colored CGI, a standard build in impressive action scenes to a final with the Big Boss, all punctured with good-natured humor. Luckily, the formula is a good one, and with Guardians, what it lacks in dramatic intrigue, it makes up for with irreverence for its own seriousness to stand out from the larger superhero pack.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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