Back in 2014, Marvel surprised everyone by adapting “Guardians ofthe Galaxy,” an obscure space-based team that included a tree person and a talking racoon, for a feature film. Many speculated that characters this weird and unknown wouldn’t sell, but being different and strange proved to be an advantage as critics and audiences praised it as something new and different. Groot and Rocket have become household names alongside Spider-Man and the X-Men. So, Marvel brought the team back for a second installment. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” may not be as fresh as the original, but it’s still a fun ride.
James Gunn returns as writer and director. The film follows the Guardians, hired to protect batteries for the haughty Sovereign in exchange for Nebula (Karen Gillan), sister to Gamora (Zoe Saldana). But after Rocket (Bradley Cooper) offends them, the Sovereign swears vengeance against the Guardians. They hire Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the former leader of Guardian’s Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) to help hunt the Guardians. The Guardians flee, only for them to run into Quill’s long lost father, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell). Returning to the film is Drax (Dave Bautista) and Groot (Vin Diesel). They are joined by newcomer, the empathic alien Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” is much more introspective than the first one. While there are action scenes, the bulk of the film is the characters talking about their relationships with each other. It still has the witty dialogue and one-liners that you’d expect.
The characters seem to have grown since the first film. Drax has gone from literal minded and super serious to a loud goofball who shares way too much of his personal life. Groot instead of being the gentle giant, is now reborn as a hyperactive child.
The theme of family is very present in this film. Quill tries to come to terms with his new space dad. Meanwhile, his old space dad is trying to comes to terms with his own feelings about Quill, and they aren’t the only ones. Gamora must deal with her violentrivalry with her adopted sister, Nebula. Even Rocket has to be a dad to Baby Groot.
The film is structured differently from the first one as well. The characters are far more stationary this time around as a result of a more character driven narrative. Instead of bouncing around from place to place, looking for or protecting the orb, the film takes place in primarily two locations. It does that thing that sequels like to do and split up the characters.
The story does seem to stall a little bit after the first act. The plot loses most of its momentum after Quill meets his dad. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” also seems to lose a bit of the novelty of the first one. It’s still great, but it doesn’t feel as original as the first.
The first film had a bit of a 70s aesthetic, mostly with the soundtrack. The second one ramps that up. Not only does a kicking 70s soundtrack return, but it’s accompanied with a strong 70s look. The Sovereign look like they come straight out of a sci-fi movie of that era. While it lacks the freshness of the first, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is still a hilarious, fun adventure.