Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 Review
Just when you thought Marvel's fun(niest) franchise couldn't get any better
Slap on Awesome Mix Volume 2 for a fantastic ride with the Guardians of the Galaxy in this tremendous sequel to Marvel's fun(niest) film.The unexpected left-field hit of the MCU, Guardians put together the comic-and-film monolith's least likely (to be popular) superhero team. At the time it seemed an insane move from a studio that had barely put a foot wrong, but it turned out to be utter genius. And whilst that left anticipation for the sequel at an all-time high, you will not be disappointed. It may be one CG space battle too much for a perfect 10, but it's still one hell of a trippy, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, warm hearted and laugh-out-loud fantastic voyage that, as with the first, only leaves you wanting more from this awesome motley crew of mayhem-masters.The story has the Guardians - now famous and revered, but still wanted for the events of the first movie - hounded by another powerful intergalactic force, whilst Starlord faces his own demons when confronted by the dad he never knew, who turns out to have a bigger ego than even he has. It's a riot, with a spectacular opening credits sequence that is every bit as fun as the first, and sets the tone for just what to expect from this film. Yes, for these guys, it's just as important to have your speakers hooked up to your soundsystem in advance of a battle as it is to have your weapons ready. Maybe even more important.
Everybody gets time to shine; Pratt has found his home in Starlord; it's just the right blend of ego and everybody-is-laughing-at-me humour, the balance of which is lost in some of his other efforts like Jurassic World. Saldana plays well opposite him and the pop-culture trivia will-they-won't-they chemistry between them plays out with both humour and just the right amount of warmth, whilst she also has her own demons to address in the form of hatred-filled sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). Rocket (an unrecognisable vocal performance from Bradley Cooper) has some standout scenes of mass destruction, and his own nice little character arc, played off against that of Michael Rooker's returning space pirate Yondo. Indeed the two of them get arguably the film's second most innovative - and, dare I say it again - fun action set-piece in the film. And even baby Groot gets to have some fun.
Kurt Russell is introduced courtesy of Marvel's best yet de-ageing work (really, we're only a few years off perfection), and makes for a larger-than-life father for Starlord, whilst Elizabeth Debecki lords it up as the head of the intergalactic equivalent to Downton Abbey (whose videogame-stylised drone fighting is both politically relevant as well as satirically hilarious). Of course it's Dave Bautista's Drax who steals the show, once again, with every over-the-top laugh alone triggering laugh-out-loud moments. He's got some fabulous lines - and scenes - mostly revolving around newcomer Pom Klementieff's Mantis and just how 'hideous' she is to him (the scene where he starts gagging just thinking about her is priceless). There are a stupendous amount of cameos too (as well as a quintet of mid-credit stingers well worth waiting for).
Still easily the most fun franchise in the MCU, bring on the rest of the Volumes in the superb collection
However it's the script that really shines - well, that and the song selection - as the film buzzes around from location to location almost constantly set to a great track, whilst the crew riff off one another to perfection. But both banter and song-beats have purpose here, and often consequences, which is what makes the mix just so organic; this isn't style for style's sake - the Guardians actually make music a part of what they do. That and arguing amongst one another.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is another work of irreverent genius. Sure, it's bloated slightly towards the end by one too many CG spectacles (and, towards the end, they are not treated with the same innovative skill shown both in the opening set-piece and the aforementioned Rocket/Yonda battle) but arguably the same could be said of the first movie. They are, after all, still chapters in the MCU, and massive CG battles are almost the go-to conclusion for these superhero extravaganzas. But, beyond that, there's so much love and attention to detail put into the characters, the references, and the humour (right down to Pac-Man) that it works. Still easily the most fun franchise in the MCU, bring on the rest of the mix tape volumes in the superb collection.
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