'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' - Movie Review

"Guardians of the Galaxy" was one of Marvel's more obscure comic book titles, and not many people thought that Marvel could make it fly - particularly not "Rocket Raccoon." But Marvel invested big in the 2014 movie, and it was a smash hit because it's funny as hell and the characters (including Rocket) are great. This is the 2017 sequel.

We open with scene-setting: the Guardians are fighting a huge inter-dimensional beast that's coming to eat a power source that they've been paid to protect. The credits roll on Baby Groot dancing to music as his motley group of "parents" fight this beast in the background. Then the Guardians are completely impolitic as they collect their payment, and Rocket steals shit because that's what he does - so now they're in even more trouble. And then the biggest plot point drops: they meet Peter "Starlord" Quill's father (Kurt Russell). And accept his invitation to return to his world, where many discoveries are made and most of the rest of the movie plays out.

The movie follows one of Marvel's standard patterns in that it brings back the cast of the previous movie (not just the Guardians, but Yondu and Nebula), adds a couple new major characters (Quill's father and his servant Mantis), and several minor ones hinting at appearances in further movies (more Ravagers played by big names: Sylvester Stallone, Ving Rhames, and Michelle Yeoh).

The movie is mostly about grand action set pieces and comedy, but between those scenes it offers a surprisingly deep (for Marvel) - although very chopped up - meditation on the nature of family.

Drax is abusive and obnoxious to Mantis throughout the movie - in the name of humour, of course. He was fantastically obnoxious for the sake of humour in the first movie, but in that case the insults were spread across many people and it was funny. This time it was all targeted at one person and ended up being quite unpleasant. I was unimpressed by the absolute slaughter Yondu and Rocket inflicted on an entire ship full of Ravagers: while I understood the motivation, having them smiling and laughing throughout made them feel a lot less like "heroes." (Deadpool gets away with that kind of behaviour because he's an anti-hero, but the Guardians aren't: they're more "reluctant heroes.") Typical of Marvel sequels, there's less character development than the initial movie - but then, this one is mostly about Quill and his Dad, with both of them getting plenty of time.

The soundtrack included some good tunes from the Eighties, but they didn't try to recreate the R&B and Funk aesthetic of the original movie. Which was probably a good choice, but the Vol. 1 soundtrack was an absolute masterpiece of music selection, and this one can't compare.

Overall an entertaining movie, although not the equal of the original.