Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In today’s sequel-filled movie environment, it’s rare that we have to wait three years between installments but that’s exactly what has happened with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Needless to say, my memory of what took place in the first film in the series is a bit hazy. Oh sure, I remember the great ’70s and ’80s soundtrack that included songs like Blue Swede’s “Hooked On a Feeling” and Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”, and I remember that I liked the film a whole lot more than I expected I would, but the story about Peter Quill and his band of misfit galaxy savers? It’s pretty much a blank at this point.

Peter and the gang are back and this time they’re saving the galaxy set against a backdrop of great ’70s and ’80s music. Yes, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is more of the same. That’s not exactly a bad thing but it’s not exactly original either.

As GOTGV2 opens, the Guardians – Peter (Chris Pratt, PASSENGERS), Gamora (Zoe Saldana, STAR TREK BEYOND), Drax (Dave Bautista, SPECTRE), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper, AMERICAN SNIPER; WAR DOGS; AMERICAN HUSTLE) and baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALF-TIME WALK) – are hired by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the golden Sovereign race, to defeat the Abilisk, an inter-dimensional monster that looks like a cross between an octopus and a monkfish. The Abilisk is trying to make off with the race’s valuable batteries, which is a big no-no for the Sovereigns. When the Guardians prevail, they receive Gamora’s feisty half-sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), in exchange. The Guardians take their leave with Nebula in chains but they’re soon under fire from the Sovereign’s fleet of virtual drones because Rocket, it turns out, pocketed a few of those batteries for himself. With their ship damaged, the Guardians are forced to crash land on a nearby planet but not before they witness someone on another ship destroying all of Ayesha’s drones. That person reveals himself to be Ego (Kurt Russell, DEEPWATER HORIZON; THE HATEFUL EIGHT), Peter’s alien father.

The theme of this film is family – Peter and Ego, Gamora and Nebula, Peter and Yondu, Drax remembering his family, Rocket and baby Groot,… – and director/screenwriter James Gunn takes every opportunity to remind us of that. By the fourth time, it gets a bit tired. But just like the first film, there’s some great music, plenty of funny lines, a lot of characters – both old (like Yondu) and new (like Mantis) – more music, explosions a-plenty, nifty special effects (especially in the film’s opening scenes), even more music, the obligatory cameo by Marvel creator Stan Lee, numerous references to ’70s and ’80s American pop culture, another cameo that is absolutely hysterical, still more music, even more explosions and the Guardians save the galaxy once again.

At a running time of 136 minutes, my only complaint is that it’s about 20 minutes too long. Especially considering how fast paced the film is – it’s perfect for someone who has ADHD – the climax sequence seems to drag. But just like its predecessor, GOTGV2 is fun and irreverent. And by the time VOL. 3 comes out (expected in 2020), you’ll have forgotten the story but remembered the music.

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