Attention kids of the 80s — Break out your cassette players and pop in Awesome Mixtape #2 because the Guardians of the Galaxy are back — and yes, to quote Rocket Racoon, “They’re saving the galaxy again.” Beautifully colorful and side-splittingly hilarious with a good dose of unexpected emotional profoundness, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is another round of madcap epic space adventures that, despite sometimes feeling like a “best of” hits list from the first film, is still a rockin’ good time.
The story picks up right where it left off with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, and his gang of eccentric characters now patrolling and protecting the universe, doing mercenary work in the wake of the popularity and fame they garnered from saving Xandar. Their latest job sees them hired by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the queen of an uppity alien race called The Sovereign, who tasks them with defending some power cells from a ugly and vicious space-octopus. Naturally Quill, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) take down the creature but the entire rumble is pushed to the background while in center focus is Baby Groot (voice by Vin Diesel) who dances to the wonderfully campy song “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO — an early indication of where the film’s priorities lie. Their triumph is short-lived when The Sovereign discover that one of the Guardians has stolen from The Sovereign so Ayesha sends her entire army after them. Luckily, they’re saved by Ego (Kurt Russell) who turns out to be Peter’s long-lost father.
As a handful of questions from the first film get answered, old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics come to the aid of the heroes with Yondu (Michael Rooker) playing a particularly pivotal role in the plot. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” delivers more of what made the first instalment so much fun, even if it feels like the journey of the characters is by rote. Gamora and Nebula attempt to reconcile their differences, Rocket deals with his self-hate and insecurity issues, and Drax continues to develop his emotional intelligence, this time with the aid of newcomer Mantis (Pom Klementieff). But at the center of it all is Peter’s quest to learn more about his past.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” can best be described as a classic origin story disguised as a sequel. Almost immediately the team is split up to deal with their own set of issues, then they all reassemble in the end to combat the big baddie, which means the film’s major villain doesn’t show up until that last act. That’s not to say that it’s not unabashedly entertaining, just perhaps a little simplistic. The romantic “will they or won’t they” relationship between Peter and Gamora is particularly sweet, almost as much as the adorable antics of Baby Groot. The unyielding supply of one-liners keep the laughs coming scene after scene with Yondu, at one point, celebrating his likeness to Mary Poppins.
With a soundtrack that boasts a bevy of new hits from the 70s and 80s and countless surprises and easter eggs throughout the film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a grand adventure with intimate stakes. It is a film for the fanbase who just want to spend some quality time with these characters (i.e. this film is not beholden to advancing the MCU plotline). And thankfully there is enough cosmic shenanigans to keep the world’s favorite band of intergalactic misfits busier than a one-legged man in a… well, you know.
Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is written and directed by James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Dawn of the Dead”) and produced by Kevin Feige. Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opens in U.S. theaters on May 5, 2017 in Digital 3D.