GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL 2 gets 8/10 Hooked On A Feeling

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Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

8/10

The first film managed to launch a group of c-list comic heroes into one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, unveiling Marvel’s strange and breathtaking cosmic realms to the general public. Can the same thing, happen to the same bunch of galactic misfits, twice?

As the Guardians save the Sovereign’s (a race of perfected aliens) power source from a multi-dimensional tentacled being in the opening credits (all told from a dancing Groot’s point of view), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) decides to help himself to some of their technology as an added reward. Now pursued by a haughty and apparently genetically superior race of aliens, as well as their hired Ravager thugs, The Guardians are in serious trouble. Partly due to the fact that they can’t stop arguing amongst themselves long enough to shoot the bad guys. However help may come from an unexpected quarter, the powerful alien Ego (Kurt Russell), a being with a curious familial connection to Star-lord (Chris Pratt). This being the Guardians though, things can never go to plan, and they soon find themselves fighting impossible odds to save the save the galaxy once more.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 is not quiet the film it’s predecessor was, but that was a heady height to aim towards. The first couple of acts fracture the group, pairing them off to get a more concentrated character interaction. As such the story feels disparate, not charged with the impetus of the first, till the gang is brought back together for the climax. Which is a pity, as some of these pairings work great on their own (Rocket and Yondu), but seem fractured in terms of the overall plot. Hence Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 feels like a collection of great moments. An eclectic mix tape,  rather than a great film in its own right.

It is also perhaps more conscious of it’s previous success, and leans heavily into a few of these elements. Hence baby Groot gets a little too much screen time, and some of the comedy elements are a little intrusive. Again, a matter of small degrees, but a tighter rein would have certainly served the story better. GuardiansGalaxy2

Yet that seems like a niggling doubt, as there is a lot here that can sweep audiences up in the magic of the Marvel cosmic universe. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 is a tour de force in regards to special effects. Whether it is the grandeur of an intense space battle, the wonder of an alien world, or the tear in an uplifted space racoon’s eye – there is never any doubt to how real it feels. Hence the CG characters have just as much stage presence as the live actors. You believe them, you believe their performances, and you believe the interaction with them.

Hence for all those disparate story lines, you buy the overall theme that Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 is hammering home – you make your own family. Sometimes that will be by blood, other times it will be through the power of friendship, even if that is with a foot tall sentient tree. It’s a simple theme, but something everyone can relate to. So when those story lines are threaded back together, and the Guardians are back to back with each other facing a cosmic level showdown for the fate of the universe – you as an audience are engaged.

Despite the sequel not being quiet up to the original, it’s The Guardians of the frickin’ Galaxy, and still a heck of a cosmic ride. ‘Nuff said.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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