The ending of the first Guardians movie saw our heroes flying triumphantly away into space; free to do whatever it is they wish to do. Jump forward a few months, and our heroes are working as guns for hire for a gold-skinned alien race, led by the uptight and unexpectedly flirtatious Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). Their team roster remains the same, compromising of the boyish and charismatic Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), ex-assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), muscleman Drax (Dave Bautista), a tree named Groot (Vin Diesel), and a talking raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Maintaining their incompetent and frustratingly idiotic ways, the team find themselves in a spot of trouble, the reason of which I won’t spoil. But it’s within this trouble where the unexpected arises, arriving in the form of Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Peter’s long lost father.
While the first Guardians movie felt simplistic in plot, the second one just goes balls to the wall weird. The story can feel a little bloated at times. James Gunn attempts to juggle between several different stories, not all of which mash well together for quite some time. However, at its core, it works. The sequel is ramped up with more emotion and humour than you’d expect going on, delving deeper into the conflict between these characters and the effect each of their traumatised pasts have on their personality. Not one character is left without receiving a deep and meaningful look at just who it is they are. Even Nebula (Karen Gillian) is back, this time feeling more humanized and sympathetic than she did previously.
Our central hero, much like with the first film, remains Peter Quill. This is, after all, his story. Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mix Volume 2, the songs of which are once again perfectly placed throughout the film, Peter’s story feels deep and emotionally resonant. His character goes through a much bigger arc than everyone else. Peter, in this film, attempts to come to terms with his mother’s passing, while also experiencing the joys of having a father for the first time. Chris Pratt nails every aspect of his character. Everything from the humour, he innuendos, the hard-hitting twists and turns and a shockingly dramatic finale is delivered to sheer perfection. His relation with Ego goes to unexpected places, and Pratt delivers in all regards.
For as much as I love what was done with Ego, a lot of the important aspects of his character end up being under explained. I can’t delve into specifics when discussing what it is his character does in this movie, as the film attempts to rationalise his absence all of Peter’s life, but it’s this rationalization that lacks much needed substance. Remember in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Ultron just Google’s what’s going on in the world, hates what he sees and decides to kill everyone? Ego’s motives for everything he does, while obviously nothing like what Ultron does (did you know there’s no Google in outer space?), are just as idiotic. Still, it’s cool to think that we live in a world where Ego the Living Planet has been adapted for the big screen and is played by Kurt freaking Russell. This entire film is a comic book fan’s wildest dreams brought to life.
A frequent critique of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that each film follows a near identical structure. For both better and worse, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 strays away from this structure, allowing for further creative inventiveness and unexpected cameos, but also a story that feels way too scattered. Still, despite its flaws, this film remains one of the most entertaining experiences you can have in a movie theater, further propelling these characters from b-grade territory into a-grade territory.
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