With so many films in the Marvel cinematic universe over the years, it can be easy for particular entries to disappear amongst the repetitive superhero format that seems to be churned out on a regular basis. However, every now and then one of them carves its own unique identity and stands out head and shoulders above the crowd. Guardians of the Galaxy did this in 2014 with its strong emphasis on pop culture references and tongue-in-cheek humour and I’m happy to say Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the trend.
We catch up with the group in the midst of them fighting a giant octopus-like creature initiating another fantastic credit sequence set to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky rivalling that of the first film. This opening sets the tone of the film perfectly, reminding audiences that – again – this is going to be no ordinary Marvel film. With the introduction of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father in the form of Kurt Russell, the story develops at a steady pace as Peter learns of his true heritage and how he was able to hold that infinity stone and avoid a painful death. With returning faces from the first instalment along with a few surprise guests, there are plenty of twists and turns that will keep audiences hooked with its fair share of unexpected (though maybe not to fans of the comics) revelations.
Very few straight up comedy films manage laugh out loud moments these days, yet GotG Vol. 2 has them in abundance. I was amazed at how often I guffawed (rather audibly to those in the near vicinity) during the screening. Much like its predecessor, Drax (Dave Bautista) has some of the best lines of dialogue with his unintentional dry wit and its increasing proof that Bautista has excellent comedic timing and should maybe consider more humorous roles in future.
Other characters are on top form here with Pratt and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket trading insults like there’s no tomorrow and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) continuing their sibling rivalry, but it’s Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) who steals the show with his cute puppy-dog eyes and fiery temper. We’re also gifted one of the most interesting villains Marvel has in its roster, which is something the studio has had trouble with in past films, even if his motives are a little ropey.
Jokes aplenty however is not to say GotG Vol. 2 doesn’t have its fair share of heartfelt and dramatic moments, which it handles with aplomb. A particular poignant scene during the climax of the final act is powerful enough to draw a tear from even the stoniest of viewers, but I shall say no more. That said, when the moment does become slightly over-dramatic or it starts to slide into cringey cheese-fest flavour there is always a joke waiting to break the seriousness and bring us back to a place of comfort.
In summary Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a commendable accomplishment for Marvel. Yes, it still has the excessive action scenes with huge explosions and destruction, but it has heart and depth that holds its balance and keeps audiences invested in this motley crew of relatable characters. Ultimately, this is a film about family, whom we consider family and what we’re willing to sacrifice for those we love and we can all take something from that.