Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

by Chad Liffmann on May 5, 2017

Dazzling, vibrant fun with a classy set list

Drax jumps right in.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the highly anticipated follow-up to the surprise superhero blockbuster from Marvel Studios, opens with a credit sequence set to Baby Groot dancing around a space station platform while the rest of the gang fight an intergalactic squid monster. Of course, Baby Groot is dancing to the late ’70s jolly tune “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra. If that isn’t a welcome return to the colorful, soundtrack-propelled, fun tone of the Guardians franchise, then I don’t know what is. From the first moments to the very end of the closing credits, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun ride with all the elements that made the first such a glowing success, and, even if it doesn’t feel quite as fresh and employs a few unorthodox plot maneuvers, it still delivers a ton of laughs and top notch visuals. 

Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and his fellow Guardian companions, including green-skinned, sword wielding fighter Gamora (Zoe Saldana), deep-laughing macho brute Drax (Dave Bautista), trash-talking gizmo-creating raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and the infant version of the lovable but deadly living tree creature Baby Groot (still voiced by Vin Diesel), are hired by a “perfect” alien race to protect some prized batteries in exchange for a captured Nebula (Karen Gillan). An ensuing distrusting mixup leads the Guardians to flee for their lives, away from their previous employer, and the return of hired mercenary Yondu (Michael Rooker). The Guardians wind up splitting up, with Gamora, Star-Lord, and Drax joining space traveler Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Peter’s long lost spaceman father, back to his home world. Meanwhile, Rocket and Baby Groot stay with the ship and get into all sorts of trouble with Yondu and others. Within this story are about half-a-dozen skirmishes and epic battles, all distinctly visual, and all featuring classic ’70s and ’80s rock classics. Point is, the story serves up the fun while simultaneously showcasing a solid stand-alone film plot line, even if that plot line diverges into several mini plot lines. It was definitely never boring, though I will admit that after the camera zoomed in on the fifth character to dramatically tell his rough familial backstory, I was a little anxious to keep moving.

I am Groot.

One of the wonderful things about the first movie was the surprise brand of humor, which was crude (Star-Lord’s Jackson Pollock reference) and informal (John C. Reilly’s quips), filled with 1980s references, and driven by amazing classic rock songs of the ’70s and ’80s. The action was inventive and colorful. From a marketing standpoint, since the humor in the sequel wouldn’t be as fresh, it would’ve been wise to keep some of the funniest scenes out of the trailers. Unfortunately, many of them were still included in the abundant amount of ads, clips, and trailers. The above picture, for example, is taken from a hilarious scene in the movie, but it wasn’t as gut busting as it could’ve been because it was already featured in the extended trailers. All of the jokes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, even the overplayed ones, are really funny. I’d just recommend avoiding trailers so that the jokes and visual panache can be as fresh and surprising as possible. 

I half expected Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to serve solely as a launching point for the inevitably Avengers meets Guardians crossover in the Infinity Wars movie saga coming out in a few years. I’m thankful that it did not! There were only a few tiny allusions to the Avengers series, and you’d have to be pretty well-versed in the Marvel canon to identify them. This movie can still stand on its own, and doesn’t leave on a cliffhanger to be solved with the Infinity Wars films. That isn’t to say that Marvel didn’t drop a few subtle hints at the upcoming Avengers & Guardians crossover, but they weren’t distracting whatsoever. And neither were the songs. From Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”, this Guardians movie once again boasts a stellar mix-tape that’s sure to garner the studio millions of dollars in soundtrack sales. I plan to listen to it right now. Then again right after.

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Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 will open in theaters Friday, May 5th.

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