Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 May 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »

Runtime:

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Description

Marvel’s latest episode is a palpable hit with the critics, with a more-than-decent 87 per cent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes compared with 91% for the smash hit original. Here’s a chance to give your verdict on the movie’s key talking points.

The daddy issues

What is it about space opera that encourages Hollywood screenwriters to set one generation against the other, like a jovial Sunday lunch suddenly whipped into a maelstrom of differing opinion by the mere mention of Brexit? Kurt Russell’s Ego the Living Planet may not be the most obvious villain in the Marvel universe, but the story of Peter Quill’s cancer-stricken mother and his mysterious space daddy always seemed underplayed in the first movie. Now we know why: writer-director James Gunn was saving the big payoff for the sequel.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, however, plumps for a sort-of reverse Star Wars effect. Instead of shifting slowly back towards the light, Vader-style, Ego starts off as a fairly likeable fellow – charming countenance, dandyish leather jacket, 70s Battlestar Galactica haircut and all – and is only latterly revealed as a sociopathic destroyer of worlds. Did you spot the big twist coming a million light years ahead? And was Russell’s CGI rejuvenation as convincing as that of Robert Downey Jr’s young Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War?

The bad guy switcheroos

Michael Rooker is the kind of actor who adds value to every scene in which he appears, and certainly there are not many who could pull off such levels of curdled, lip-curling intensity as cosmic ne’er-do-well Yondu while encased in pot-fulls of blue face paint. But was there something a little too convenient about the scumbag Ravager leader’s journey to redemption? Likewise, Karen Gillan’s Nebula was an out-an-out baddie last time out, but now gains a backstory that explains exactly why she hates Gamora so much, to the point where we end up feeling rather sorry for the seething cyborg freak. Did you buy all these second movie switcheroos, or was there a sense that Gunn simply wanted to bring back his original cast and needed a storyline that kept everyone in the picture?

I am Baby Groot

The huge-eyed, super-cute junior version of Vin Diesel’s heroic tree creature seemed destined to play more of a background role in Vol 2, but ended up being pretty essential. In need of rescue from a gang of ’orrible space pirates? Groot’s your plant-based sentient extra-terrestrial. Need someone tiny to head into the depths of Ego the Living Planet’s core and blow up his giant “brain”? (After much wide-eyed, adorable procrastination) Groot will get the job done. Has there ever been a more engaging all-CGI character in the Marvel universe?

The mind-boggling visuals

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After the shifting inter-dimensional cityscapes of Doctor Strange, Marvel seemed to have reached new heights of far-out silver age comic book nuttiness. But Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is right up there for brain-bamboozling CGI wizardry. The multiple jumps to hyperspace, with our heroes’ faces bulging and gurning like cartoon characters from an extra-zany episode of Looney Tunes, were fabulously realised. And Ego himself (planet version) was a psychedelic tapestry of otherworldly pinks, yellows and oranges. Star Wars may have reverted to using exotic corners of the Earth to double for alien planets, but the geniuses at Weta Digital might just have proved with Vol 2 that there’s life in the digital domain yet.

The tunes

There can have been few films of the past 25 years (including Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction, perhaps) that are so rigidly defined by their pop culture soundtracks as the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which used offbeat 1970s easy-listening to heighten the movie’s veneer of quirky swagger and remind us not to take anything we saw on screen too seriously. Vol 2 does not disappoint, with tracks such as Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain sounding like they were written for freewheeling space adventure (so much so that Gunn hits the play button twice). Other highlights include ELO’s joyous Mr Blue Sky, the driving hard rock of The Sweet’s Fox on the Run and the gentle lilt of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. Did the music rather paper over cracks in the narrative on occasion? And did you care when it all sounded this pulse-elevatingly splendid?

The multiple mid-credit sequences

This time around, Gunn et al gave us not just one or two, but five quick glimpses into the future of the Marvel cinematic universe. Groot has grown into a moody teenager, while Quill has clearly spent enough time in the creature’s company to understand the subtle deviations of meaning in that famous three-word mantra. Sylvester Stallone’s Ravager chief Stakar Ogord is inspired by Yondu’s final sacrifice to think about reuniting with his own platoon of rough-edged space heroes. Hardcore fans will have spotted Michelle Yeoh’s Aleta Ogord and Ving Rhames’ Charlie-27, both of whom (with Stakar and Yondu) were part of silver age Guardians of the Galaxy lineups in the comics. Gunn has hinted the team of veterans will be back for more adventures, potentially even their own spin-off flick, in future instalments.

Meanwhile, the director’s brother, Sean, who plays Ravager deputy Kraglin, looks set for a bigger part in Vol 3 if the scene in which he tries – and fails – to master Yondu’s tone-controlled flying death needle is anything to go by. We’re assuming an arrow in the chest is not necessarily fatal to Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer.

The Easter eggs keep on coming. That golden sarcophagus being prepared by Elizabeth Debicki’s hapless golden alien Ayesha in an attempt to finally defeat the Guardians appears to be occupied by none other than Marvel stalwart Adam Warlock, a staple of the publisher’s space fantasies for more than 40 years. And those strange aliens hanging out with Stan Lee? They are unmistakably Watchers, extra-terrestrial observers who have observed the Marvel galaxy for aeons, but are charged never to interfere (even though they do, constantly, in the comics).

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