It is always strange to me when people refer to “Guardians of the Galaxy” as a surprise hit. In the beginning, I felt that this Marvel title (whilst a bit out of context in its current iteration in comparison to continuity, but that seems a bit passé at this point) was a bit of a challenge for the House of Mouse, but at the end of the day Disney DOES know what they are doing a bit. For it to take the world off-guard still seems a bit exaggerated, since it happened in the midst of “Phase Two,” where the Marvel Cinematic Universe had been firmly established and the Disney machine had proven time and time again that they can make any character or group of characters work into a hit film. Add to that a cast with Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, and one can see that “surprise hit” is a stretch.
After its success, it would be inevitable that Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Pine), Gamora (Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), Rocket (Cooper), Groot (Diesel), and Yondu (Rooker) would be back for “Vol. 2,” and it is upon us. This time, the Guardians are facing off an interdimensional demon from stealing valuable power sources from The Sovereign, headed by their High Priestess, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). After a bit of a double cross, they wind up on the run from The Sovereign and wind up meeting Ego (Kurt Russell), who also happens to be Peter Quill’s father. While half the team goes off to learn more, the other half stays behind, still hunted by not only The Sovereign but also by Yondu and his Reavers.
Even though this installment is only about fifteen minutes longer than its predecessor, it felt a lot longer because there is a LOT going on here. Apart from its main plot about finding who you are within a group and within your bloodline, there are about three other subplots that in most situations would weigh down a film overall. It almost does here, but with great visuals, strong performances, and wall-to-wall action, the balance is kept in check very delicately. Now be warned: the language in this one tends to be a bit saltier than the first film, which can be a bit jarring to some. The “F” bomb does not make an appearance so as to keep a “PG-13” rating, but just know going into it that this film does flirt in the “FX” category more. There are some more mature themes that are dealt with, but I felt that it does so through returning director and writer James Gunn very smartly and in an evolutionary manner that truly makes this film seem like a continuation of the first film and not in a way that would make it seem like it is trying to take itself in a different direction.
Accompanied by another strong soundtrack that will surely give the cassette tape industry another shot in the arm, I found “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” to be both entertaining and emotional. (Granted, you put Cat Stevens’ “Father to Son” in just about anything, and the potential for me to be an emotional wreck goes up significantly.) And by the way: not as if I have to say it, but stay all the way through the credits, as there are FIVE different scenes as the end titles progress.