Guardians of the Galaxy
By Mikhail Lecaros
When Guardians of the Galaxy came out in 2014, even the most loyal of Marvel fans had to question whether a sci-fi action comedy of mostly-unknown characters from an obscure comic book would be able to thrill moviegoers the way that Iron Man and his fellow Avengers had been doing since 2008.
Indeed, with a cast that included a former WWE wrestler (Dave Bautista, as Drax), an Academy Award-nominee voicing an animated space raccoon (Bradley Cooper, as Rocket), a crewmember from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek remake (Zoe Saldana, as Gamora), and Vin Diesel as a talking tree of limited vocabulary (Groot), all being led by the funny fat guy from TV’s Parks and Rec (Chris Pratt, as Star-Lord), Guardians of the Galaxy sounded like a long shot from the get-go.
Thankfully, director James Gunn (Slither) was able to take that band of intergalactic misfits, added heaping helpings of action and humor, and came up with a tale that was exciting as it was irreverent, all packaged with one of the best retro pop soundtracks ever assembled.
The result: critics and fans ate it up, with many calling it the shot in the arm the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) needed to stay fresh while, at the same tine, opening the door for the franchise to tell different kinds of stories.
So how’s the sequel?
Volume 2 is a Hell of a Follow Up
After the surprise hit of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the bar was raised for the sequel to prove that it was no one-hit wonder. Where the first film had been a risky venture involving a property few knew about, Guardians 2 would have the popularity of its predecessor working for and against it in terms of audience expectations.
Simply put: returning director Gunn and his cohorts have hit another home run, continuing the themes and stories introduced three years ago, while expanding on them in ways that feel earned and organic.
The Soundtrack is Epic as Ever
The characters and visuals weren’t all that blew us away in 2014, as Guardians of the Galaxy’s soundtrack had one of the hands-down finest compilations of ‘60s and ‘70s pop in modern cinematic memory, thanks to director Gunn’s brilliant taste in tunes. For Volume 2, he’s assembled another winning playlist, complementing the action with retro titles ranging from “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra, “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” by Silver, and “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, while “Brandy (You’re a Sweet Girl)” by Looking Glass plays a special part in the overall story. ‘80s icon David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider, Baywatch) lends his vocals to a new track, the hilariously self-aware, “Guardians Inferno”, that plays over the end credits.
It’s Fun and Funny
From the get-go, Guardians 2 lets the audience know not to take the proceedings too seriously, as the film’s first action sequence features our titular heroes living up to their job description by taking on an inter-dimensional tentacle monster in suitably ridiculous fashion. Just try not to smile. Go on, we dare you.
Eye Candy Galore
While Zack Snyder continues to push audiences to accept comic book movies devoid of life and color, Guardians 2 is the big screen equivalent of a nuclear-powered unicorn exploding out of a confetti-packed snow globe. Expertly realized by the CGI wizards from Weta Digital, the playfulness and variety of the visuals never overwhelms or supersedes the narrative at hand. This is eye candy at its finest, a comic book brought to rip-roaring, glorious life; a bubble-gum infused confection of riotous joy and visual insanity you’ll want to see more than once to absorb it all.