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(Copyright: Walt Disney
Studios Motion Pictures,
the film publisher
or graphic artist.)
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Director: James Gunn
Producer: Kevin Feige
Scriptwriter: James Gunn
Main Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell
Released: April 28 2017
Running Time: 136 Minutes
He says “Welcome to the frickin’ Guardians of the Galaxy”. Only he didn’t use “frickin’”. – Rocket
The sequel to Marvel’s surprise hit finally lands. Were this any other studio, we would have had a sequel to the critically and commercial hit much earlier, keen to jump on all that goodwill, alas with the Marvel Cinematic Universe being interconnected every movie has a place in line. Thankfully, we will not have another three-year wait to see the group again as they will be teaming up with the Avengers next year, which a truly exciting prospect.
Funnily enough, though, there is barely any connection to the wider Marvel Universe in Volume #2. Writer and director James Gunn gave us such an offbeat hit that he has basically been given carte blanche in the sequel. This is quite the compliment in the tightly-controlled Marvel Universe, one not even afforded to Joss Whedon in Avengers Age of Ultron.
We open to the Guardians in team mode, a not-so-well-oiled machine, and straight away we are reminded of how different these films are to the others in the universe with a funky, mixed-focus, alien battle set to the music of ELO. Obviously.
Actually, the music deserves special mention. George Lucas once said that sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie, and both Guardians of the Galaxy movies are prime examples of this. This sentiment most likely refers to a score (of which there are some really nice emotive pieces here by composer Tyler Bates), but in Guardians of the Galaxy, it is a collection of 70’s hit singles, some classics, and it gives the pace of the movie a real rhythm. Sells a hell of a lot of soundtracks too. Due to the success of the first film, Gunn has obviously been allowed any song he wishes, and boy he’s crammed a lot in, but it’s to his credit as a writer how the songs hit the right tone.
The pacing of the first act seemed somewhat off after that first scene. Without the villain not being so clear until later, there does not seem to be much focus on the overall plot. However, it does at least leave plenty of room for that rarest of things in an ensemble – character development. Each character is so well-defined to us now, yet you get a sense of a deep history behind them that you know there are so many stories there and so many directions you can take this group on.
There were moments were it seemed like the movie was going for some sort of gag-rate record that the constant stream of jokes were beginning to undermine serious moments. This was more in the first half, mainly involving scenes that involved the over-used Ravagers. And quite frankly, there is a certain Pac-Man moment that should not have happened. I get the fun of Peter Quill’s old culture references to his comrades, but this was a cringe moment in what was an emotionally and physically charged scene.
But it can be forgiven because the hit rate is much better than the miss, and some hit hard. When did comic book movies become funnier than comedy movies?
The visual effects are eye-popping; this truly is a comic book on screen. The different states we see the character of Ego in are very impressive. It’s great to see a director allowed to really give us the entire colour pallete. And the effect of showing older Hollywood legends as the young men we remember them as – like Michael Douglas & Robert Downey Jr in past Marvel films – turns up again here to wonderful affect. Kurt Russell as Ego is just really cool, guys. Credit too for the promotional team as the fantastic trailers gave nothing too important away.
Finally, although I am a fan of the plot device of well-established teams splitting to join up again later – something that allows characters more room to grow and create different dynamics – the real magic in this space age comic book action adventure of mismatched family drama is when our heroes have a back-and-forth together.
Each member brings something different and the lines sizzle. There are not many cinematic sights more guaranteed to make you smile than the Guardians of the freakin’ Galaxy together in full flow.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – We Are Groot