For a few years, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” had been the best sequel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That movie got some competition this weekend, though, with the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
The film picks up with the titular crew of hero mercenaries, including Peter (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), who are in the middle of another job. After some of the team’s hijinx cause the job to go haywire, though, the guardians end up crash landing on an unknown planet.
Fortunately, they do manage to get some help from a man claiming to be Peter’s father (played by Kurt Russell), who informs the series’ main character about who he really is. However, in doing so, it does manage to somewhat split the Guardians up into different places, causing the team to face some dangers on their own.
There is a lot going on in “Vol. 2” and if handled the wrong way, the movie could have been a convoluted mess. Thankfully, that’s not the case. The “Guardians” sequel excels at telling three different subplots, tying them together by having them all converge to the film’s climax and keeping the tone consistent with all three stories thanks to the theme of family.
In some moments, the movie explores Peter’s relationship with his father, in another, the picture shows Gamora dealing with her step-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) and finally, there’s Rocket learning more about himself as he has to work together with Peter’s mentor Yondu (Michael Rooker). These character driven arcs go a long way in getting an audience to be invested in the picture and when they do eventually meet together, the motivations and the theme of family really hits home.
This isn’t the only thing the movie has to offer, either, because along with the character building, “Vol. 2” also succeeds with its comedy. The script is loaded with humor and the banter between the Guardians is fantastic, especially considering the group knows each other now Vs. when they were just learning about each other in the last picture. The flick is downright hilarious, relying heavily on the different personalities of the Guardians, from Gamora’s cynicism to Drax’s social ineptness.
Of course this aspect is helped by the performances. Like the previous installment, the main crew here has a nice chemistry and the performers fit well into their roles, from Cooper giving a great wise-guy attitude to Rocket to Pratt portraying Peter as the smart-ass outlaw with a heart of gold, it all really clicks. The supporting cast is solid, too, Russell is a nice addition to the series as Ego, Pom Klementieff was great as another socially inept character in Mantis and Rooker once again has a fun time playing Yondu.
Being a Marvel movie, “Vol 2.” also delivers the goods in terms of action. Being a sci-fi space adventure, the film is able to get creative with its action sequences and as a result there are many entertaining moments featured. A scene with Rocket activating a number of high-tech traps, for example, really stands out.
This sequel does have a couple detriments here and there, its run time is 2 hours and 16 minutes and that probably could’ve been shaved, the movie only hints and teases at a romance that should’ve come to fruition by the end and occasionally Drax’s comical moments go on a tad too long. However, for the most part, this is an entertaining, funny and at times heartfelt piece of work. It’s a solid way to start off the summer movie season. 4.8 out of 5.