In the beginning of the first volume of Guardians of the Galaxy we see how Peter Quill became an orphan. In the volume 2, we see how Peter Quill came to be. His mom is romanced by a character who turns out to be Ego the living planet, a celestial being, god with a small ‘g.’
Talk about Daddy issues. Once Star-Lord’s mom is off the screen, Peter Quill is left to face his personal problems with not one, but two Dads (one genetic, one who raised him). Along for the ride are the other Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and, yes, Baby Groot who have lessons of their own to learn (Hint: family has a lot to do with those too.)
Also returning are Yondu (Michael Rooker), head of his group of Ravagers, and Nebula (Karen Gillan), the mostly robotic sister to Gamora.
New to the film are the previously mentioned Ego, played by Kurt Russell, Mantis, Pom Klementieff doing a fantastic job fitting in with the gang, and Sylvester Stallone playing the king of the Ravagers.
At the end Volume One, Yondo explains that he didn’t take young Quill to see his father right away because, Quill’s Dad was an asshole. If he’d told Quill the real reason instead of treating him like a thief in training, the whole second movie would have been a lot different, but he didn’t and so we get to go on a fun ride as dreamed up by writer and director James Gunn.
The movie grabs you with its unique blend of fun and action right from the opening credits scene. The Guardians of the Galaxy take on a space monster, which gives them a good thrashing, but the camera focuses instead on Baby Groot who is dancing to the music coming from Peter Quill’s walkman. The fight itself is relegated to the background. The resulting incongruity results in a lot of laughs.
The rest of the movie is full of wonderfully crafted, brilliant even, film craft. What is not, is an overly complex plot. There are plenty of bungling minor villains, familiar squabbles, and a big baddy who isn’t revealed so early in the film that a conflict feels inevitable.
If I just wanted to hang out with this lovable family of misfits for another two hours this would be a wonderful movie, but to have so many great humorous moments and a large amount of heart to go with it, elevates Volume 2 over the first.
My biggest complaint was that some of the minor characters showed up for matters unrelated to the plot. I guess when you’re making a trilogy, sometimes the second film must be sacrificed to the greater good. Thankfully, there is very little of that here. The movie got perfect scores in early audience screenings and you can totally see why in the finished product.
My two favorite elements of the film are both entirely digital creations. Baby Groot is by far the biggest star of the film. Yes he kind of gets lost in the story a bit in the middle, but he makes up for it at the end. Bradley Cooper and the digital artists behind Rocket also get major kudos. Rocket is as resourceful as ever and packs a treasure chest full of wise cracks. Of course, it’s protecting his soft emotional interior, but we actually get to see that in the performance, which is so incredible.
If you haven’t heard already, be sure to stick around through out the entire credits as there are five scenes sprinkled throughout. There are also a few little Easter Eggs for future Marvel films. The film is available in IMAX and in 3D. I really enjoyed the 3D and felt it helped immerse me in the setting of the film at key moments. It’s probably not really needed for most of the film though.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens with early screenings Thursday night.