Sequels can be tricky, even with a good team behind them. I wasn’t really worried about Guardian of the Galaxy Volume 2. Even the worst of Marvel’s movies (probably Thor: The Dark World in my opinion) is pretty good. And this was better than that by a lot. There was action, humor, nods to the comics, and new spins on characters. I’m doing my best to avoid spoilers, so this is going to be light in detail.
The opening scene is a battle/dance number (no, really) against a big monster. They even carry on a joke from the first movie’s end credit scene. The team does well (for them, anyway), goes to collect their reward, and manages to piss off their clients anyway. Chaos ensues, including a big space battle that has some amusing video game overtones. The Guardians manage to get away, but end up someplace with some serious issues to work on, both among themselves and with the ship. They also have a prisoner to deal with.
Elsewhere, we learn a lot more about the Ravagers and Yondu in particular. There’s a lot more going on with all that than they even hinted at in the first movie. This also introduces several new characters, including some nods to the original, comic book versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s also got a big 80’s star in a small role.
The Guardians get a surprise visit from two new characters: Ego and Mantis. Ego delivers surprising news, and wants to bring Star Lord back to his home to show him some things. So the team splits up, with Star Lord, Drax, and Gamora taking the trip, and Rocket, Baby Groot, and the prisoner being left behind.
While Peter Quill, Star Lord, gets a lot of surprises about his past and his family tree (no, not Groot), Rocket gets company. He’s actually a real badass in this scene, not just comic relief like he was so much of the time in the first movie. The tides of fortune shift several times, and there are several changes in alliance as the movie goes on.
The big bad guy ends up being a surprise. The Guardians are facing a very formidable foe who knows a lot about them. Along the way, the team grows, and then shrinks a bit. By the end of the movie, there’s at least one casualty, and at least one leaves. The family theme is played on a lot, maybe even a bit too much, but they make it work. There’s all this, and cameos by Howard the Duck, the Watchers, and, of course, Stan Lee. By the end, things have changed a bit, and while it’s not a direct tie in to the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, the pieces are in place to get the Guardians and the Avengers together. And hey, it’s a Marvel movie, so stay for the end credit scenes. For that matter, watch the credits themselves, as they threw in a few amusing little bits.
The writers took a few liberties with character backgrounds and powers. Most notably, this was with Star Lord himself, Ego, and Mantis. Generally, departures from the comics annoy me a bit (yeah, I’m THAT guy). But the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made several changes from the comics that work, and in a few cases, even work better than the original stories. So I was actually fine with that here.
What I liked: Just about everything. This was a lot of fun. There was great action, funny lines and moments, learning a bit about the characters, and a few Easter Eggs along the way. There was another kick-ass soundtrack. I liked seeing Rocket as an effective fighter. Yondu even ends up a bit closer to his comic book appearance, and, as I said, there was nod to the all but forgotten original Guardians team. There were cameos from two more 80’s stars, one a tv actor, the other a video game character. The movie is fun and has heart. It’s a very worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What I didn’t: Not much. They maybe went a bit heavy on the family theme, and I could have done with maybe a bit less Baby Groot. I know, I know, I just preferred the more competent one in the first movie. At least in the showing I was in, several things from the various previews, trailers, and clips from talk shows weren’t shown. Notable among them were Groot’s screaming “I AM GROOT” when he runs off with the bomb, Drax hugging Star Lord, and Gamora asking Nebula about Guardians vs Gardens. I get the most dramatic death they did, but I was starting to like that character. And, while I know it was a Guardians movie, there was a big event that touched on Earth that really should have merited some kind of Avengers response.
And most of those dislikes are quibbles. I had a lot of fun with this one. I’ll give it a 4.5 out of 5. I’m looking forward to Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War.