By Erik Engel
James Gunn (The Golden Compass) drowns his audience in colors and lets his chaotic superheroes save the last gasp for frolicsome laughter. From start to end the second installment of the Guardians-franchise thrills with a perfect mixture of comedy, romance, action and tragedy, all packed into 136 minutes. Evidently the script even convinced superstars like Sylvester Stallone (Ravager Stakar) and Miley Cyrus (Mainframe) to take part in another space adventure. Like every other Marvel production, especially the Thor trilogy-completing ‘Ragnarok’, Guardians of the Galaxy establishes itself with every scene in the ranks of Blockbusters like Iron Man.
We open just a little time after the first film with the squad fighting a so-called Abilisk, a huge octopus-like creature spitting fire and, funnily, confetti in order to protect the batteries that keep the Sovereign Race running. But the whole opening sequence is overshadowed by the dancing performance of the little tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), still growing up after the incident with Ronan at the end of the first movie. The probably cutest Marvel figure ever runs the show throughout the film and gives enough material for a few ‘awww-moments’ in the theater.
The opening fight is not a battle for a bounty, though. The Sovereign hand Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is accompanying the Guardians on their journey. The next problem waits just around the Corner, as Rocket the Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals the batteries he was supposed to protect. The hunt of the Sovereign for the heroes ends with Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father Ego (Kurt Russell) stepping in and finally reuniting with his son. Shortly after the Guardians are split as Quill,Gamora and Drax (Dave Bautista) follow Ego to his planet. Yes, he owns a planet. Why? Because he is a celestial, thus making Quill a half-god. A surprising piece of news, and not only for the audience.
Meanwhile, the Sovereign hire Yondu (Michael Rooker), who brought up Peter Quill, to find him and bring him back to face his punishment. They don’t know that Yondu has already been exiled, and so he decides to not go after the Guardians, causing a mutiny among his ravager crew that is very interested in the massive bounty on their heads. But how this usually works the left Guardians Groot and Rocket help Yondu to escape and so introduce the ending finale. Ego opens up about his real intentions to kill the entire galaxy. Very ambitious. Certainly, the Guardians can’t let that happen and so we are thrown into an emotional, colorful, fiery and happy ending.
Remarkably, every character receives roughly the same amount of screen-time, and every single one of them has their special personal highlight. Quill finally defines his heritage, Gamora eventually unites with her sister Nebula, Rocket and Yondu at last find some friendship in their broken hearts, Groot with a memorable dance and a decisive hand in the final battle, and also Drax has his widely-picked moments as fighter and widower. We are also introduced to new species and characters like Kurt Russell’s Ego and his ‘flee’ on the back Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
The second Volume gives us a closer look into every character’s personality and the reasons for most of their odd behavior, clearing up the ambiguities left over from the prequel. Everyone plays their part exceptionally well. Adding to the perfectly timed humor Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 pushes your emotional side, especially by evoking sympathy about the character’s personal tragedies involving failed science experiments and death. The breath-taking visuals, e.g. the ravager funeral or Ego’s planet, add to the reason why the Guardians fit into the current superhero-movie-scheme of not taking itself too seriously, decorated with situational jokes wherever possible and a familiar atmosphere. It erases flaws like over-the-edge fatuity and punishes everybody who leaves early by interrupting the credits three times with another few comedic sketches. Again, Quill’s mix tape dictates the music for the whole film, already announcing Volume 3 with Cat Steven’s ‘Father and Son’ forcing one or two tears I have to admit.
It has to be said like the first installment Guardians 2 tries a bit too hard to break out of the habituality with superhero-movies over the past years. Like ‘The Avengers’, the focus lies on values and family rather than on the heroes saving the world. And there is no Problem with that unless it is overdone. Personally, I have to say I wasn’t a fan of Volume 1. But now, for me, the second Marvel Family competes with the Avengers on a very high level. We will see who has the upper hand when they meet in 2018’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. I myself can’t wait for another Marvel spectacle