“You’ve got to love your family, you don’t have to like them.” George Wolf, Sr.
Directed by: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Cast: Christ Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan
Swift shot: All anyone really wants to know is, “Was it as good as the first one?” Well, in some ways it was better, and in some ways it wasn’t quite as good. If you are heavy into story and aren’t bothered by real dramatic themes, Vol. 2 is likely to impress. If you want tons of action and don’t really like drama, especially family drama (the worst kind), then “the first one” is probably more your speed. But, it’s still a terrific Guardians of the Galaxy film, full of the things we all love . . . and plenty of Baby Groot!
Star-Lord (Pratt) and his merry mercenaries, now famous as saviors of the galaxy, have been hired by a golden-skinned race of aliens known as the Sovereign to secure a nexus of very powerful batteries from a cosmic monster that is hell bent on consuming the batteries. Child’s play, really.
After their mission is complete, Star-Lord warns everyone not to even slightly offend this group of Americans…err, I mean the Sovereign. [Swift aside: more on that comparison later] Naturally, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) doesn’t just piss them off, he double-crosses the C-3PO-looking jerks.
After that encounter, Gamora (Saldana) the green daughter of Thanos is reunited with her sister, Nebula (Gillan) and has every intent to turn Nebula over to Xandar for war-crimes. But, thanks to Rocket’s actions, that doesn’t end up going down so smoothly. The Sovereign pursue in their drones, operated back at their home world, and every time a ship gets taken out there is no real gravitas. In other words no one dies, just drones. I felt that was a cheap knock at our drone pilots taking out bad guys across the Middle East . . . and elsewhere, ahem. Maybe I read into that a bit.
As the Sovereign are about to finally nail Star-Lord’s ship the Milano, a mysterious character named Ego (Russell) appears and manages to save them. Now, there’s been plenty of reveals in trailers and even IMDb has given away who this character is, but I am not going to here – on the off chance that you have sequestered yourself from such knowledge. But the mysterious stranger is keenly aware of who Star-Lord is and what he’s capable of doing.
The team splits up, a few go off with Ego and Star-Lord, while Rocket and Groot stick behind to repair the mangled Milano.
After their failure, the Sovereign have hired Yondu (Rooker) and his Ravager crew to make Rocket pay for his snub and retrieve what he pilfered. But when Yondu’s crew encounters Rocket, things get interesting for the sinister smurf with the little whistle-stick.
That’s all the story I want to reveal here, but the family dynamic is heavily visited in the story-line. There’s Nebula’s sibling rivalry with Gamora and a reveal as to why she’s so hostile in the first place. There’s Drax (Dave Bautista) talking about his family with his new friend Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and what family means to Drax. But chiefly there’s Star-Lord, Peter Quill coming to the realization of what it means to be a Quill in the universe.
Vol. 2 has another bitching, fitting soundtrack to some of the classic rock songs many of us used to mellow out to, and it honestly never gets old that poor Peter’s point of Terran reference is always stuck in the ’80s. In that way, he reminds us all of our childhood, and it’s a nice little warm fuzzy for us guys in our forties to think we could be jet-packing in outer-space and messing up bad guys.
But, there’s where Vol. 2 gets a little hazy, technically speaking the Guardians are the bad guys, at least from the Sovereign’s point of view. They are thieves and the Sovereign are seeking justice. There are other antagonists for the crew to contend with that are much more interesting, but it’s such a bummer that Star-Lord finally meets someone who is completely a dick!
While the shooting wasn’t as prevalent as “the first one,” Rocket did manage to showcase some really inventive new weapons. Vol. 2 was much darker than Vol. 1, given the inherent nature of the conflicts and the lack of mercy shown in certain scenes. Your kids might be asking you some uncomfortable questions after this one, so be prepared to discuss serious stuff with them.
As I left the theater I was still marinating on the film, was it as good as the first one? It wasn’t the first one, in Vol. 1 we got to meet the characters, in Vol. 2 we got to know the characters and they become family. So, it is something different than Vol. 1, no more, no less. And there is plenty of Baby Groot!