Belatedly, I have gotten around to seeing Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. Though it has had good reviews, the most common detraction levelled at it has been that it’s not as good as the first film. I feel this is an unfair criticism. The first film had two things going for it: one – even though it was a film in the ‘superhero’ genre, it was of one of Marvel’s lesser-known titles and two: no one knew what to expect. With the characters being a human thief, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), talking raccoon, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his three word speaking tree companion, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a humourless alien warrior widower, Drax (Dave Bautista) and a female, green, fierce warrior, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), there was a lot of scope for a misstep. The film could have easily been a complete mess.
Fortunately, it wasn’t and the first GOTG was a massive hit and a thoroughly enjoyable romp. The sequel had some big shoes to fill. Not only had the first film introduce us to several interesting characters, it also posed questions and alluded to possible unions.
The biggest question from the first film – who is Quill’s father – is the driving force behind the sequel. What an answer it turns out to be! His father turns out to be an ancient celestial being, in essence, a god. Ego, for that, is his name (played brilliantly by Kurt Russell), decides to reconnect with his son Peter, after thirty-four years.
Before any of this happens, the motley crew are carrying out a mission to protect batteries – yes, really – for a high brow race of golden Sovereign beings, led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). Though as a race they feel they are superior to all others, they also feel they are too precious to risk defending their own batteries, hence the Guardians are recruited.
Defeating the monster that had come for the batteries, they go to collect payment. It turns out that their payment is Gamora’s evil, angry sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), who they want to take so as she can face trial for her crimes. The gang leave but are soon pursued by the Sovereign as Rocket, not liking their uppity attitude, decides to steal some of the batteries.
The sequel has the same sense of fun of the first film, but a stronger story. Whereas the first film was to show how the group came together, in the sequel we know everybody. Established as guardians of the known galaxies, their reputation goes before them. Where the relationships are going? Who is Ego and why has he only now come back into Peter’s life? Why is Nebula so hellbent on killing Gamora? All of these queries help propel the story, allowing the film to hurtle along nicely. The film looks fantastic, as you would expect from Marvel, with all the various planets beautifully realised. James Gunn, the director, has upped the ante, as is the norm with sequels, but not so much as to make it indistinguishable from the first.
Something that has been popping up in film recently; younger versions of older characters. Seen in Captain America – Civil War first when we see a young Tony Stark, we see a youthful Robert Downey jr. Not a youthful, yet still impressive, is Peter Cushing in Rogue One, brought back as Tarkin, though the eyes are a definite giveaway, due to Cushing no longer being with us. We also see a young Leia, a youthful Carrie Fisher.
In GOTG: Vol 2 we are shown probably the best reverse ageing that I, in my opinion, have seen. Kurt Russell is flawlessly made youthful for some of the opening scenes. More importantly, it really works for the film, preventing unnecessary exposition.
We are introduced to a great new character in Mantis (Pom Klementieff) an empathic female alien, as well as having the Ravagers returning from the first film.
GOTG: Vol 2 is a great film. Is it as good as the first one? In my opinion, yes it is and, in some respects, it betters the first.