Checked out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on opening night and discovered the rare treat of a sequel being just as good as the original. Although it featured dumb points, that is pretty common in comic book movies. However, I enjoyed it so much that I almost didn’t mind the loud chatty brat behind me.
Like the original, Guardians starts off with a past Earth scene of Peter Quill’s mother and father enjoying a good song and a sunny day. Then the movie switches to the group killing a giant space squid while Baby Groot dances in and around the battlefield. The sight gags were hilarious as the battle goes on. I’m not giving anything away since the producers use an abbreviated version as the movie’s trailer.
The film stays funny for a while and then moves into more serious trouble as the Ravagers catch up with Yondo and some of Quill’s crew. Feeling that Yondo is always soft on the boy, mutineers execute his faithful followers and torment Rocket and Groot. Rocket, unsurprisingly, faces torture and death with sarcasm and insults, which helps lighten the mood. The Ravager crew act drunk and out of control like a typical overdone scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, and probably about the same amount of intelligence in the bit characters. Although funny at first, it quickly gets old.
Later under lockup, Yondo and Rocket have a moment of understanding, which also offers information about their backgrounds. They realize they act like constant jerks to others to help fill the empty holes in their hearts where family love should be. All of this, along with mass murder, stays on the lighthearted side with antics of a wide-eyed Baby Groot and the knowledge that the soon-to-be-dead Ravager crewmembers are all a-holes. The fact that they bully Baby Groot makes you not care when they die.
In the meantime, Gamora and Nebula beat the crap out of each other while exchanging “you don’t love me enough” comments and Quill meets his father, played with great panache by Kurt Russell. His character, Ego, has a plan to spread his godhood all over the galaxy but needs help from his prodigy to do so. In his backstory, the audience finds out that he’s fathered children with all kinds of aliens. So at least Quill and Dad have one thing in common: they’ve both slept with A’skvarians (but apparently only one of them enjoyed it!).
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the movie is all about families. The theme comes across with sledgehammer accuracy with the fact that the defining factor in a family is not genes but relationships. Like Archie Bunker’s family, these characters’ yell and fight, use sarcasm and guilt as finely honed weapons in verbal sparring, and generally barely stick together. The bonds are loving but dysfunctional. The film is full of backstories and connections but still moves along at a strong pace while not getting bogged down in overly sentimental emotionalism.
While all these different stories are going on, Quill’s group is running from a race of supposedly perfect golden beings because the guardians stole valuable property from them. The comic factor is that, for such perfect beings, they are easily defeated at every attack. The golden group is simply another layer of not-so-subtle comedy and the continuation plotline into the next movie. Otherwise, their occasional presence in the show becomes annoying after a while.
Like the original Guardians of the Galaxy, this version has great music, fast action, unbelievable space scenes (hey, it’s not Star Trek), and a beauty to the background and set designs. This is particularly true on Ego’s world where the viewer gets captivated by all the flowing artistry in the plants and the castle.
As with all Marvel movies, you should stay in the theater through the credits for side gags and sneak peaks at Vol. 3. The best one is a future vision of Groot as the sulking, snotty teenager after a movie full of wide-eyed cuteness. Overall, the film is like a dark chocolate candy bar, a decadent, meaningless treat that does not offer a lot of intellectual nourishment but still makes you crave every bite.