Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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three-and-one-half-stars-rating

PG-13 | 2h 16min

Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista

by Jason Koenigsberg

The first big sequel of the 2017 summer movie season has arrived. Of course, the first big movie is a Marvel movie as the comic book craze continues. Three years ago Guardians of the Galaxy was the sleeper hit of the summer and one of the most entertaining and imaginative blockbusters of recent years. Now the inevitable sequel is here and it has some pretty huge expectations to even come close to being as entertaining as the first one. The good news is that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  succeeds for the most part at being a fun and joyful thrill ride. 

The opening shot is on Earth, Missouri specifically in 1980 where we see a digitally de-aged Kurt Russell with a woman whom we know is the mother of Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt). Kurt Russell is really having a nice career resurgence in recent years getting roles as an aging action star, tough guy archetype in The Fast and Furious franchise, two Quentin Tarantino films, and now a big meaty role as the main characters father in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Flash forward 34 years and we see our heroes from the first film on a mission as they banter playfully and await a giant monster. They battle this monster during the opening credits scored to a classic oldies pop song, setting the same tone as the first film. Those that wanted more of the fun the original movie had will not be disappointed Guardians Vol. 2 has the same lighthearted sense of humor mixed with good natured themes that emphasize teamwork, friendship, family, and romance. The family bonding was of utmost prominence this time around as we saw father and son moments being shared as well as intense sibling rivalry between our misfit superheroes. Guardians Vol. 2 accentuates the unintentional stress family love can cause between its members. 

The cinematography had a similar look to the original with very bright, colorful special effects and CGI elements throughout. Also like the previous film the soundtrack featuring classic rock and pop songs plays a heavy focus in many scenes. If it sounds like this is getting repetitive constantly comparing Guardians Vol. 2 with the first film that is because some of the first films greatest strength’s are this films biggest weaknesses. Vol. 2 brought nothing new to the series. This was simply a continuation of all the characters and action sequences audiences saw in the first film. That was an overwhelmingly impressive movie experience and is still the best Marvel movie to date. The sequel is too reliant on the familiarity of the original and delivers what audiences want and expect from the first. Guardians Vol. 2 serves as happy food, movie zoloft to release the endorphins audiences want and expect from the sequel. 

Where the first film felt original, the sequel has no originality, but it sure has enough of everything else that make it worth watching. James Gunn directs this film again with the same TLC for these misfit characters and it shows in every frame. It is also well directed with surprises from some new characters that are introduced and how they are developed as well as with the actual camera movements. There is a scene where a character is killed and as the camera pans away from him, it is revealed that there were other people that met the same tragic fate he did. 

The acting was just as superb as the first film. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista all reprise their roles as suitably as they did the first time around. Bradley Cooper was more than serviceable as the voice of Rocket, the CGI design for Baby Groot is wonderful and can warm even the coldest heart. Plus Kurt Russell delivers another fine performance with a few tricks up his sleeve. The standout this time around was character actor Michael Rooker reprising his role from the first film. This is his best big screen role in decades and he hits it out of the park. It was great to see him share the screen with a costar from Cliffhanger (1993) and his Mary Poppins bit is probably the best moment in the movie and that is saying a lot. 

If you are seeking originality or a screenplay that will surprise and challenge you, skip Guardians Vol. 2. Otherwise by all means do yourself a favor and see this film on the big screen in all of its visual awe-inspiring glory. It is more of the same, but since the first was so good, that is not a bad thing. 

Instead of the trailer, here is the awesome soundtrack to Guardians Vol. 2.

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