Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is, much like its predecessor, a little too pleased with itself – and yet, it has more personality and doesn’t take itself as seriously as the other Marvel Comics cinematic ventures of recent years. In other words, you’ve sort of seen it all before, but for the first of many movies this summer in which heroes will likely save the planet or galaxy, it’s not half bad and often pretty fun.
Similar to the first entry in the series, this second Guardians movie is loaded with wisecracks – some funny, others groan inducing – as well as plenty of 1970s musical nuggets (hey, when’s the last time you remember hearing Silver’s “Wham Bam Shang a Lang” in a movie, amirite?) and a few too many visual effects.
As the film kicks off, the Guardians – Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, whatever that means) and Drax (Dave Bautista) are taking on a mission to stop some gigantic beast during a credit sequence that makes nice of use both Groot and ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” As it turns out, the alien race who employed them for the job is easily offended and find themselves so after Rocket steals some batteries – don’t ask, I couldn’t possibly explain – from them, leading to the Guardians being pursued to a planet known as Ego.
One of the planet’s two inhabitants is a man named Ego (get it?), who is played by Kurt Russell and, as it happens, is Quill’s father. The other inhabitant is a woman named Mantis (Pom Klementieff) – for obvious reasons – who appears to want to tell the Guardians that something is amiss on the planet.
In some ways, vol. 2 bears similarities to The Empire Strikes Back in that it features a father-son story, although there’s also a twin sister plotline, another involving a stepdad and an overall exploration of what it means to be a family, a theme that makes for some nice touches, but also a little banging over the head in its delivery.
But mostly, this second Guardians offers more of the same irreverent humor regarding its respected genre as the first in the series and its protagonists fit into the Batman anti-hero mold, although they can tell better jokes. The film’s final battle on planet Ego is a near headache inducing CGI onslaught that nearly kills the film’s vibe, although the scene that follows it – set to the tune of Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” – is a more fitting culmination.
Much like most of the summer blockbusters that arrive between May and August, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 isn’t particularly necessary. That being said, it’s a fun tentpole movie that, thankfully, isn’t as stone-faced as some of the other comic book films of recent years that fancied themselves topical. In other words, if this movie is your type of thing, you’ll likely be amused. I mostly was.