In 2014, the Marvel cinematic universe was in full swing. Marvel was setting forth 3 phases of films that will culminate in 2018 with the movie, “Infinity War”. 2014 also saw the release of a Marvel film starring a band of galactic misfits only well known among the comic book reader set called, “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Guardians would garner high praise from both critics and audiences alike. The outrageous cast of aliens, the always charming Chris Pratt, and the unique look and rockin’ soundtrack rocketed this film to financial success. The Guardians have returned three years later with the second chapter of their wacky space adventures. Is it possible for director James Gunn to recapture the magic and charm of his first film?
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” picks up three months after the first film and opens in 1980 Missouri with a young and handsome Kurt Russell portraying a man who is romancing a young lady while ever so slyly divulging a celestial secret that will alter her life and her future son’s forever. Flash forward 34 years later and we find ourselves alongside the self-proclaimed “Guardians of the Galaxy” dispensing of a savage alien beast for a race of beings called the Sovereign. During this affair, the incorrigible Rocket Raccoon hightails it off their planet with a Sovereign power source which he calls “batteries” without telling the rest of the crew. Rocket starts an epic space battle between the Guardians and the Sovereign which was looking bleak for our heroes until the entire Sovereign squad is wiped out by a being that will change the course of the galaxy and its Guardians, but more importantly, this alien being has a relationship to Peter Quill A.K.A. “Star Lord” that Peter has been craving. What Quill doesn’t know is that this all-powerful celestial may be what he’s been looking for his whole life, but this being has been looking and waiting far longer for Peter.
“GOTG Vol. 2” is not a true sequel to the first film, but a continuation of the previous adventure. The Guardians are working on being a finely tuned team. Relationships are blossoming, flourishing, or withering within the ranks, all the while the team is being hunted and/or courted by a cast of vicious Ravagers who seek their demise or an omnipotent celestial being that just may have sired one of the Guardians. Director, James Gunn took the heart of the first film and not only transplanted it into the new film, but ever so delicately put a new heart next to the old one and had them beating in sync. “GOTG Vol. 2” is not an epic space adventure, but a sentimental character piece that happens to have the backdrop of an epic space adventure. This new film may not garner the same kind of excitement as its predecessor, but what we get in lieu of that is an adventure of the heart that spans the gamut of relationships of father and son, sisterly rivalry, friendship, and what it means to be a family. This is Marvel’s sweetest and most sentimental film to date. Getting to know more about these characters made me invest in them and their journey, all the while empathizing with their unspoken feelings for one another.
“GOTG Vol.2” didn’t forget to charm us with their sense of humor and this film has it spades. It’s all due to a cast that oozes a natural chemistry together. Whether it’s likable Chris Pratt, lovely Zoe Saldana, the atypical Michael Rooker or the gruff and absurd voicing of everyone’s favorite “Trash Panda”, achieved by Bradley Cooper. They all play a role in molding a team worth cheering for. The new players in this tale also contribute immensely to the film’s success. Sylvester Stallone as Stakar was enthralling when on screen, but was in the film far too little. I hope to see more of him in the Marvel cinematic universe. The most amazing standout performance belongs to the acting legend, Kurt Russell as Ego. He steals the show as the father figure Peter Quill always wanted. You can’t help but fall in love with his character and then all at once be heartbroken by his character’s betrayal. I must admit I’m a bit bias in my assessment of Mr. Russell because Kurt Russell is one of my favorite actors of all time and I consider him my generation’s John Wayne.
“GOTG Vol. 2” is a worthwhile follow up to what is already a pop culture classic. I haven’t even mentioned that this second film has another outstanding soundtrack worth listening to on your long drives down the coast. It’s cool 70’s AM pop tunes and they fit perfectly with the tone of the film. “GOTG Vol.2” may not be as memorable as the first film, but it has certainly etched its mark in the Marvel cinematic universe with it’s out of this world premise grounded by real emotional performances (real life or CGI). Although not perfect and suffering from a couple of glaring plot holes, “GOTG Vol. 2” wraps up nicely morphing our misfit team into a tightly linked family unit whose chain can’t be broken. The movie also clears the galactic board for our heroes to make way for the huge battle ahead against Thanos as the Guardians themselves fight alongside the likes of Iron-Man and Spider-Man.
I’ve never shed more tears at a Marvel movie than this one. I’m okay with that and you will be too just a long as you allow “GOTG Vol.2” to sweep you off your feet, warm your heart and give you the biggest hug you never expected. Surrender to the film’s enchantment and get hooked on the feeling because as you leave your seat you’ll be wham bam shang-a-lang in love.