Like the mixtapes that helped to set the first apart from its cohorts, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is energetic and irreverent, equal parts silly and sad. There’s so much energy in the film that it sometimes leans too hard into jokes when it could stand to ease off a little more and quiet down. But most of the time, the enthusiasm is infectious, and the jokes and emotional beats often land perfectly. James Gunn can’t resist spitting in the face of self-righteous grandeur, making him a perfect fit for the eclectic C-listers from Marvel’s back-catalogue of comics.
The cosmic setting has become more of a playground for Gunn, as we’re treated to lavish palaces, eye-popping colours, and demented set-pieces in bewildering cosmic landscapes. The characters and sets find a midway point between the artwork of Jim Starlin and pulpy sci-fi flicks of years past, inspirations that Gunn continues to mine for entertaining throwbacks and visual gags – the first set-piece of the film bringing Buffy episode ‘The Zeppo’ to mind.
While there’s a lot going on, the characters of Guardians take centre stage. If the Avengers are friends and colleagues, the Guardians really are family – not the vaguely defined, Fast and Furious kind, but the kind that bicker, hold petty squabbles and grudges, and are always ready to shoot one another down with a joke or an insult. Some of the best moments of the film come when these oddballs simply stop and attempt to figure each other out.
While it may not have the novelty of its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is hilarious, brimming with pathos, and real pretty to boot. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and makes a few missteps, but it’s still a total riot.
CAST: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
WRITERS: James Gunn (screenplay); Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Marvel comics)
SYNOPSIS: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.