In a move that will surprise nobody, Marvel made a sequel to the hugely popular Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s been almost two years since the first film released to surprise success, and everybody’s been groovin’ along to Star-Lord’s 80’s classics ever since.
So here we are, back again, to join Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and the gang as they tackle huge alien forces and grow ever-closer as a makeshift family. And family is a central theme this time around: as the trailers revealed, Peter may have finally found his estranged father in the form of 80s action star Kurt Russell – a.k.a. Ego the Living Planet.
As always, I’ll avoid giving away many more plot details, because it’s not what you’re here for: you want to know whether it’s any good. Well, thankfully, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a more than worthy successor to an already great movie, and one which understands what made the first film so great. The nostalgic soundtrack makes a return, as does the generous heaping of wit and humour which separates Marvel’s outings from DC’s. A nice change of pace is that every character indulges in the funny side of things with this sequel – for some, that might prove a bit much, but for most it’ll be nothing but an asset to an already great movie.
Most people will probably come away from GOTG Vol. 2 with the opinion that Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) steals the show, but I’d argue that in an ensemble this strong and cohesive, you’ve really got to commend everybody. Whereas the first film focused on introducing audiences to these characters we barely knew, this instalment gives you a reason to care about them. Even Yondu (Michael Rooker), the polar opposite to friendliness, matures and gains a sense of empathy as the movie goes on. I’d still argue that Karen Gillan’s Nebula is nothing but irritating in how cartoonishly villainous she tries to be, but that might just be me.
Things aren’t all sunshine and daisies, though; when you stop and think about it, not a lot actually happens in this movie. Of course you’ve got the stunning fights and beautiful planetary vistas, but the main draw of Vol. 2 is to see how the Guardians themselves grow and change; narrative seems to take a back-seat to characterisation. This is fine if you weren’t hoping for a huge progression in the storyline, but is something that could be disappointing for story-focused fans. Personally, I could appreciate the personal struggles just as much as I would’ve the more grand ones, but some might be put off by the fact that, in the end, not a lot changes on account of this film’s events.
That’s not to say that some serious shit doesn’t go down – it does. Again, without spoiling anything, be prepared to switch allegiances more than you’d expect. That’s really something you’ve got to give to director James Gunn: he knows how to bait-and-switch, and with Vol. 2, he knows exactly what he’s doing. Everything from the first movie feels more refined in this, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to what was already the best film in the MCU. Yeah, I said it.
For some, the soundtrack to Guardians Vol. 2 is enough of a selling-point, and you’re definitely in for a treat with this one. It’s certainly a different vibe to the first – there’s not much akin to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, for example – but there’s plenty here to offer a wide selection of tracks from multiple genres. In a neat twist, certain songs also act as crucial story elements, which makes the eclectic playlist feel more necessary than additional. I know I’ll be buying the album soon enough, and I imagine we’ll be seeing it at the top of the charts even sooner.
Your enjoyment of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will depend entirely on your expectations of it. If you want a sprawling space-opera that deepens the lore and changes the very essence of the overall narrative, then you’ll likely leave disappointed. If, however, you want a genuinely fun film which wants to do nothing more than entertain you, then you’re probably going to get as much of a kick out of this as I did. Let’s be honest, though: you’re already planning on watching it.
With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, James Gunn takes everything that made the first film such a hit and capitalises on doing it again. It might not move things along in the MCU as much as people had hoped, but it's an absolute blast from start to finish - a blast lined with great tracks which people will be singing all Summer.