If there is an expert in not taking itself seriously or the odd Aunt, crazy Uncle, demented middle child in the Marvel Universe it's the Guardians of the Galaxy. In volume 2 playtime ratchets up a notch. Starting with a fierce battle with a gigantic octopus with impenetrable skin that's background noise to baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) dancing as he battles minuscule foes when not hit by shrapnel from the big battle or almost crushed by his fellow Guardians as they are tossed aside by the by the immense creature. The sequence is backed by the dulcet tones of Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra harkening back to the feel good tunes from the soundtrack of the first film.
The meat of the story sets out to answer the biggest question who is Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) alien dad? We get some clues in a prologue circa 1980 where we see Peter's mom cozying up to a digitally youthened Kurt Russell sporting a super late 70's feathered flow as Looking Glass' Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) blasts through car speakers. Back to the present gold plated the Sovereign that hired the Guardians to defeat the space octopus in exchange for custody of Gamora's (Zoe Saldana) metallic sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) are none too happy that Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) stole their batteries give chase. They manage to escape aided by a mysterious spaceship piloted by Ego (Russell).
The Art / Set Decoration crews deserve special mention at this point. Starting with Ego's planet a blast of colours and shapes that would make both Willie Wonka and Austin Powers jaws drop to the floor. The snow planet out post where rogue Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker) is confronted by elder Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) is perfectly white and barren. It's the perfect setting for perhaps the funniest gag in the film where the Sovereign priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debeicki) perhaps the most conceited person ever to grace a movie screen has technical difficulties as she approaches the Ravagers to help her find the Guardians.
The main cast fall easily back into their roles. Pratt leads the line as Star Lord very skilled but stubborn and cocky which usually gets the gang in trouble. Dave Bautista's muscle bound Drax is the definition of literal and judgemental but does it in a way that makes his utterances mainly focuses at Ego's counsellor Maintis (Pom Clementieff) funny and charming. Zoldana's Gamora is serious and competitive as ever. The biggest arc comes from the darker characters Cooper's Rocket , Rookers Yondu and Karen Gillan as Gammora's adoptive robotic sister Nebula. Of the newcomers the Sovereign are the most memorable. Every pore clogged with gold paint and glitter. They are superior, self centred but not the most adaptive or resourceful species in the galaxy.
Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the summer popcorn movie you would expect. It's a space rock comedy opera with familiar characters and a timeless storyline of the main hero trying to find out where he came from and why. Director James Gunn is back at the helm of a franchise he continues to push in the right direction. The film is fun action packed with the right amount of tension backed by another strong soundtrack featuring Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens and Sweet making it a film I can highly recommend.
*** 1/2 Out of 4.
Guardians of The Galaxy | James Gunn | U.S.A.| 2017 |136 Minutes.
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