NEW MIX TAPE. SAME GUARDIANS.
The long awaited GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 has dropped, and all we can say is… I. AM. GROOT! Chris Pratt and the gang have returned to cause a ruckus and of course save the galaxy while they’re at it. James Gunn has delivered again with another actioned-packed thrill ride filled with laughs for the whole family — and family is the glue that binds this story together.
VOL. 2 introduces us to Peter Quill’s (Pratt) biological father Ego (Kurt Russell) the Living Planet and his need to reconnect with his son. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is dealing with her disgruntled half sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), who’s hellbent on being her better. Trials of parenthood fall on the whole group as they care for Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), but the responsibility falls hardest on Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) — perfect dad material! The Guardians’ family grows with the addition of Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ego’s aid, whose interaction with Drax is sure to steal the show and leave you contemplating their romantic chemistry.
The film opens in the 1980s with Quill’s parents driving down the highway. When they end up taking a stroll through a forest, we get our first look at Kurt Russell as Ego, looking like his youthful self. This is becoming a trope that Disney, MARVEL, and Lucasfilm have been fond of lately. But where most films like TRON, ANT-MAN, and ROGUE ONE have been using CGI renderings to accomplish this jump into the fountain of youth, the makeup team of GOTG VOL. 2 showed they still have what it takes to pull off practical movie magic. That’s the real Russell there portraying a younger version of himself — simply spectacular!
We jump forward to the present time and see the gang defending an array of power batteries from an enormous tentacled creature. While this moment is fun and it shows their ability to work together, it’s also played pretty safe. Leaning on the fan favorite Baby Groot, the scene becomes a music video where Groot is dancing to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”, not paying any attention to the battle that ensues in the background and miraculously avoiding every inch of danger.
This one scene can honestly sum up a good chunk of the film: playing it safe. The first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film won us over with a colorful group of misfits that really shouldn’t have gotten along, all to the melodic backdrop of 70s musical nostalgia. There’s nothing wrong with using what works, but it does hinder any growth for the characters. For example, Rocket not accepting that he has a family in the Guardians crew. Get over yourself, dude — you’re adorable, badass, and everyone loves you! I will say that the banter amongst everyone is tremendous. With Drax’s blunt humor and Baby Groot’s foul language, it’s hard to believe these guys have enemies (wink, wink).
Much like in the first film, Gunn appeases the nerd gods by filling this installment with cameos and easter eggs galore. Marvel has started a trend in its later phases where the second film stands as a kind of filler chapter that dishes out small pieces of information and introduces characters that will play larger roles later on. For instance, amongst the many post-credit scenes (five to be exact), there’s a hint towards a Guardians spin-off. We see the O.G. Guardians of the Galaxy characters, the Five Ravager captains, reunited. Could the appearance of Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), and Mainframe (Miley Cyrus) mean we’re getting a GUARDIANS 3000 film?
Possibly the most wondrous easter egg is the third mid-credit scene where we see the official cocoon of Adam Warlock. Anyone familiar with the infinity stones story knows of his importance. It would be remiss of me to not also mention my personal favorite final post-credit scene, which acts as more of epilogue to an earlier moment in the movie when we see the infamous Stan Lee cameo — he’s seated wearing a spacesuit telling the tales of his earthly adventures to a few robed, observant, bald, towering beings: the Watchers. The two scenes combined basically support a long assumed fan theory that Lee is in fact Uatu the Watcher! This explains the why and how he has been a part of every MARVEL film to this point. Could Stan Lee be the key to defeating Thanos?
Overall, James Gunn’s handling of the MCU’s cosmic realm has been sensational. Since these films are breathing new life into struggling properties like Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, and possibly now Adam Warlock, we can only hope he continues to be part of the MCU’s world-building process. NUFF SAID!