Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Bumbray's take)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Bumbray's take)
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Read Eric Walkuski's review HERE

PLOT: After a mission gone awry, the Guardians temporarily take refuge with Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) biological father, Ego (Kurt Russell). Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker), now persona-non-grata among the Ravager community, has to deal with a space mutiny that brings him face-to-face with his former enemies.

REVIEW: When a movie like GUARDIANS OF GALAXY, which nobody but the most devoted Marvel fans thought was going to be a break-out hit, comes along and appeals to such a wide-range of viewers, giving the studio that great white whale of blockbusters, the four-quadrant hit, a sequel’s a given. But how do you follow-up a sleeper, which was beloved by so many on the virtue of it being different, and not as plugged-in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe as the others?

If you’re writer-director James Gunn, you double down on the things that made the first film a hit, namely the humor, the colorful visuals, the cast and the groovy seventies soundtrack. The formula, outside of (briefly) splitting-up the team, isn’t shaken-up at all, and while one can’t give this as much credit for departing from the norm as the first film, it’s nonetheless almost as fantastically entertaining.

One thing Gunn doesn’t do is tie this in too much to the other Marvel Films, even if the Guardians are set to appear in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Outside of some minor foreshadowing and references to Infinity Stones and Thanos, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is as much its own thing as the first. If that movie was the STAR WARS of Marvel movies, this one damn sure is trying to be THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, with occasional lapses into darker material, and a pivotal father-son plot, where Peter is finally reunited with his dad, Ego, who Marvel fans will know is actually a living planet who’s given himself a human form.

The movie opens with another dazzling glimpse at how Marvel can de-age actors better than anyone else, with Kurt Russell looking like he walked-off the set of 1980’s USED CARS, in a prologue where he seduces Peter’s mom. From there it’s right back into the action, with the gang quickly reintroduced, taking for granted that viewers have probably watched and re-watched the original multiple times since the first hit theaters almost three years ago.

Everyone’s pretty much the same as they were left-off, with Quill still trying to cope with his romantic feelings towards Gomora (Zoe Saldana), who’s too busy dealing with her psycho-adopted sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), to notice or care. Meanwhile, Drax (Dave Bautista) is still trying to grasp the concept of humor, and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) is still too cute for baddies to take him seriously. The only one who’s really changed is Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), who everyone will know is in the process of being regenerated, and is mischievous toddler that’s cute as a button, with his opening dance to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” eliciting sighs of delight from the assembled journalists as my local press screening.

Without giving too much away, much of the film relates to Peter’s search for a father, with Kurt Russell perfectly cast as the brash Ego, a part very much in-line with the more smart-ass heroes he played in the eighties, specifically BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA’s Jack Burton and TANGO & CASH’s Gabe Cash (with his on-screen partner, Sylvester Stallone, also on-board for a fun cameo that may pay-off further down the road). Surprisingly, the most heartfelt role of all goes to Michael Rooker’s Yondu, with him having his own, complicated history with Peter, which bring him into the fray in an unexpected way. Another new addition to the team is Pom Klementieff as the empath, Mantis, bringing a pitch-perfect mixture of comedy and pathos to the role – making her a good fit with the other guardians.

It all adds up to a surprisingly weighty sequel, that moves lightning fast despite the 136 minute running time (which includes five post-film scenes scattered amongst the credits). The lukewarm response by some early critics is puzzling, as this is undoubtedly one of Marvel’s stronger efforts, although given that it’s a sequel the nifty touches that distinguished the first film won’t come as much of a surprise this go-round. Everything still works, including the much-anticipated soundtrack, with Tyler Bates’s score taking a backseat to the top-40 seventies hits, with “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” being especially prominent (although the best action scene is set to Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights”). More than anything, it’s just fun – something Marvel has down to a science at this point.

Source: JoBlo.com



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