Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), PG-13, 136 minutes - Writer/Director James Gunn's original Guardians of the Galaxy became a pop culture phenomenon three years ago when he took relatively little known characters from the cosmic corner of Marvel's comic book universe and created a fun, humorous, heartfelt, space opera with a nostalgic soundtrack.  The film was so successful that within days of its release, it was announced that Gunn would immediately begin working on a sequel.  This weekend that sequel has hit theaters and despite the three year build up of hype, it has proven to be well worth the wait.

Volume 2 takes place about a year after the events of Guardians of the Galaxy and picks up with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) fighting off a space monster on behalf of the Sovereign, a genetically engineered 'perfect' race led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki).  By successfully protecting the Sovereign's highly sought after power source, they are able to free Gamora's half-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) from Sovereign custody (whom plan on turning in for her bounty).  Their plans are quickly changed when they learn that Rocket stole some of the batteries that they were meant to protect and an entire Sovereign drone fleet is sent to hunt them down.  The tight-knit but dysfunctional group manages to elude the Sovereign fleet with the help of a mysterious ship before crash-landing on a nearby planet.  It is there that they are approached by the ship that helped them and learn that it belongs to Peter's birth-father Ego (Kurt Russell) and his companion Mantis (Pom Klementieff).  Meanwhile, Ayesha hires exiled Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his crew to hunt down the Guardians for their thievery.  From there, alliances are formed, betrayals occur, and all of the characters develop in an organic way that generally proves difficult when dealing with a group of this size.

Visually, the film is even more stunning than the first Guardians.  The creativity and color used in creating Ego's home planet are especially impressive.  Gunn's selections for the soundtrack (Awesome Mix Vol. 2) are just as enjoyable as they were the first time around.  They aren't just nostalgic, their impact is once again maximized by they way that they are carefully woven into the story being told.  It is obvious that these films are a passion project for Gunn by the care in all of the details he puts into them.  Marvel has already announced that he will be writing/directing a third volume, which is great news to fans of the Guardians and the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was number three on my Most Anticipated Films of 2017 list, and it easily lived up to my expectations.  I really enjoyed the development of characters, the action, the humor, the cameos, and the emotion that James Gunn was able to work into the film.  I don't think that I would put it on quite the same level as Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy as far as the overall MCU goes, but it is a highly enjoyable film that that caters to the entire family and is a great start to 2017's summer movie season.


- Be sure to sit through ALL of the credits as there are FIVE post-film scenes scattered throughout:

  • Kraglin (Sean Gunn) attempts to use Yondu's fin to control the arrow and accidentally stabs Drax.
  • Ayesha reveals a cocoon of sorts that she has genetically engineered to be the next step in he Sovereign's evolution.  She says that she will call it 'Adam'.  This is an introduction to the highly anticipated appearance of Adam Warlock from the comics (and an integral part of many of the cosmic story lines in the comics, especially The Infinity Guantlet).
  • Peter enters Groot's room to find a 'teenage' Groot and harps on him to clean up his room as Groot ignores him and plays video games.
  • Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) rallies remaining Ravagers to 'go steal some stuff'.
  • Watchers walking away from Stan Lee with him begging them for a ride.

- In the opening fight scene in which Baby Groot dances while the rest of the Guardians fight the space monster, Groot dancing when Drax is looking at him (like he did in post-credits scene of first film).

- Ego reveals himself not only as Peter's birth father, but as a Celestial, making Peter half-Celestial.  This is different from the comics, as Ego was neither Peter's father or a Celestial.

- In the comics Ego was quite literally a 'living planet'.  It turns out that is exactly what he is in the film as well, and that Kurt Russell plays the humanoid extension that Ego created to explore the galaxy.

- Howard the Duck (once again voiced by Seth Green) makes a cameo in the bar-like establishment on Contraxia (following up on his post-credits appearance in the first film).

- Stan Lee's obligatory cameo takes place as Rocket and Yondu are jumping to Ego's planet.  He is sitting there telling The Watchers stories about his previous Marvel cameos.

- Speaking of cameo's there are a number of others in the film.  First and foremost: Sylvester Stallone, who plays Stakar Ogord, more commonly known as Starhawk in the comics.  Here he is the acting head of The Ravagers, in the comics he was one of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the 31st Century.  Others include: Ving Rhames (Charlie-27), Michael Rosenbaum (Martinex), Michelle Yeoh (Alea Ogord), Miley Cyrus (the voice of Mainframe) - also characters from the 31st Century Guardians in the comics, but now Ravagers in the MCU.  David Hasselhoff also has a cameo as 'The form of David Hasselhoff' as well as singing the lyrics to 'Guardians Inferno', written by James Gunn and composer Tyler Bates.

- We learn that Yondu's whistling control of his arrow is due to his implanted fin in his head.  When it is destroyed, he turns to his new prototype that is much more reminiscent of his original comic book look.

- When the Guardians pay tribute to Yondu at the end of the film, they place a couple trinkets next to him that carry over from the first film: a blue frog and a troll doll.

- When Ego is revealing his plan to Peter, Peter says that he sees 'Eternity'.  Eternity is a cosmic entity from the comics.


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