While the opening credits of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 roll, we’re treated to a hugely satisfying and elaborate action piece. Our Guardians have been hired by The Sovereign to protect their planets power source from a huge inter-dimensional squid like creature that wants to feast on it. Focus is squarely on cute Baby Groot for most of this sequence as he dances along to ‘Awesome Mix Volume 2’. Battle and chaos rage on around him and he’s occasionally distracted and angered by anything that threatens to get in the way of him having a good time. It’s very funny and very entertaining.
When Rocket then decides to steal a couple of the batteries they’ve just saved, just for the hell of it, things kick off and the team find themselves on the run from The Sovereign as they are chased through space, attacked by hundreds of their remote controlled pods. This is just the first of a number of enjoyable encounters with them throughout the movie, but these guys are definitely not the main villains of the movie…
After the Guardians ship crash lands on the nearest planet, they’re joined by Ego, The Living Planet (Kurt Russell) who claims to be Peter Quills long lost father. While Peter, Gamora and Drax go off to find out more, Rocket stays behind with Groot to repair the ship. At this point, there’s a significant tonal shift in the movie. Our team are separated, and what is set to become the main plot point of the movie – the return of Peters father – takes a while to get off the ground. We’re introduced to new character Mantis, an empath, and then we’re filled in of what Ego the Living Planet has been up to for the last few million years or so. It’s fairly interesting stuff, and fills us in on a lot of detail as to who Peter came to be, but while Peter gets bogged down with all of his daddy issues, neither him nor Drax and Gamora are doing anything particularly interesting. After the fast paced action up until that point, it’s a noticeable dip.
Thankfully, in among all of this Rocket manages to liven things up with a few of his own fun action scenes. Single-handedly taking on a bunch of Ravagers, followed by another enjoyable scene involving Yondu and Baby Groot. Eventually though Drax, Gamora and Peter also get their chance to shine and things get back on pace. In fact, pretty much everyone in this movie manages to get involved in their own significant battle at some point in the movie. In the same way that Captain America: Civil War successfully juggled such a huge number of heroes and egos, even introducing a few more in the form of Spider-Man and Black Panther, so too does this movie. Mantis is probably the only one who seems under-utilised, but even then she still manages to play a significant part in the final act. Yondu, and even Nebula, all get their own scene stealing moments too. Of course, everything builds to a huge scale, CGI overload but the movie still succeeds in driving home the overall theme of family and manages to end on some truly heartfelt and emotional moments.
Everything here is definitely on a much bigger scale than before. Following the huge success of 2014s original movie, James Gunn has rightfully been giving free reign to continue doing what he does best with these guys. I mentioned the dip and tonal shift, but this is a very minor complaint in what is essentially a continuous succession of highly enjoyable action scenes. The guardians are at their best when bickering and firing off one-liners and put-downs, and there’s an abundance of that in this movie. It’s wonderful to be sitting in a packed cinema, filled with children and adults of all ages, all laughing and cheering at exactly the same thing. This is a movie that really does appeal to all.
I’ve been trying to decide if I prefer this movie to the first, and I’ve got to say that I think I do. This is bigger, funnier, more enjoyable than the first. A movie that’s confident in it’s characters and featuring an even bigger amount of memorable scenes and dialogue. And thankfully, Guardians of the Galaxy WILL return!