Somebody has to do it. Marvel has a team in Guardians that seems to have amazing on-screen chemistry. Whether that is a credit to actors, director, music, or a bit of all of that, it worked in the first film and works again here in “Volume 2.”
Since this movie is ‘fresh off the boat’, I’ll avoid any spoilers. There are things that really make Guardians 2.0 really work and a few things that drag it down towards mediocrity; “towards” that is, not to. That is an important distinction in favor of this second James Gunn effort on behalf of the Marvel Galaxy.
Those of you familiar with my totally bias and heavily subjective movie reviews of all things super hero-ey, you know that I have the opening installment of Guardians of the Galaxy at the lofty perch atop the list of comic themed movies. I will say early and right now, that the top five positions on the chart are safe. To ply the archives of my Guardians past comments here are the two reviews and the epiphany, post screening, post Blu-Ray, and the announcement a New King is Crowned.
But that safe haven is not because ‘Vol. 2’ isn’t a great movie, it is just that the first movie had such a strong impact. It was the ‘came out of no where’, type of feeling. This one doesn’t benefit from that initial awe. It is very difficult for a sequel to a groundbreaking type movie to better the original. It happened in Star Wars as Empire Strikes Back overcame the ‘been there, done that’ with excellent dialog and fantastic character chemistry. Oh and a “I am your Father” deal at the end didn’t hurt either.
Guardians Vol. 2 has a lot of that. Like its progenitor, this movie uses an excellent sound track, fabulous score, and even manages to work the lyrics of the songs into the plot! Brandy the one hit wonder by Looking Glass has been a bit a trivia I was proud to have stashed in my gray matter; but it’s forever ruined. Kurt Russell has released it to the universe and now everyone knows it, but do they have it on vinyl? I do 😉
OK, I brought up ‘Kurt Russell’ and I have to talk about K.R. What a stud! And without mentioning any spoilers there is a scene, and it is not just a fleeting scene, but a series of images and action of what appears to be a young Kurt from way back in the day. We’re talking Escape from New York young. We saw Disney do a pretty creepy Princess Leia CGI de-aging in Rogue One but this was brilliant. Seriously they nailed that shit down. I thought the moment I saw it that it was old footage from K.R.’s Disney youth acting days somehow merged into the movie or something. But it was a wonderful combination of a young actor with some similar facial features, some excellent make-up and a dash of CGI. Bravo, quite possibly the best de-aging ever.
So Russell plays a God-like being that is deeply connected to this franchise and serves to provide some additional back story on our galactic saving protagonist. Kurt pulls it off well. Like the first movie, this one does not take itself too serious. The movie is filled with classic comedic setups and most of them are well executed. There are however, more than a couple of forced moments to grab a chuckle.
James Gunn doesn’t break any barriers in bringing us this story and in fact the plot is reaped from a well tilled field. But a predictable plot can be overcome with well-timed humor, a fair amount of destruction, and solid character building revelations. We get all of that in Volume 2 and a two scene cameo with Sly Stallone!
In the first installment I thought Rocket had the most funny lines, but this time I think the trophy goes to Drax. He was hilarious and the dialog and delivery for his funny moments were perfectly done. The movie has a few scenes where the warm and fuzzy touchy feeling is a little thick in light of the comedic approach. It even tries to have a poignant moment near the end, but Drax takes the edge off any tear inducing possibilities with a well timed funny that in itself is telling a story about what could happen to him in the closing of the trilogy. This movie, like the first is very funny throughout, and who doesn’t like a good laugh? Regarding the laughs, this movie seems to try and tap a little too much into the more adult humor like Deadpool did. But this is not an R rated movie and having more penis references than any two Marvel movies combined is over the top. Parents bringing young ones based on the experience in the first might be a little perturbed, but the first one wasn’t really a Pixar film either 😉
I don’t know if this latest Guardians will hold up like the original, but I do know that it will hold up. Once again Marvel has sent a fly ball into the stands to straight away center. I didn’t feel like the music and the moments were as well infused as they were in Vol. 1 but they were still very well done. The movie flows well, the action sequences get a little frantic at times but again never quite overdone for this type of film. This is a solid performer and it lands well in its debut on the All Time Super Hero Movie List.
All of this is building towards an epic finale of sorts called “Avengers: Infinity War” and the Guardians will be apart of that for sure. That film is due out in 2018. This year we see a new Spiderman and Thor movie, early 2018 the Black Panther makes a modern screen debut all leading to Infinity War where I presume Thanos will emerge as the primary bad guy.
Be sure to sit through the credits all the way to the very end. Never mind that you will see an after credit scene shortly after they start to roll, then another, then another, there will yet be another at the very end an it is a Stan Lee classic.