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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

You and some friends just saved the universe... now what do you do? In May 2017, the Guardians of the Galaxy used their new found fame to keep saving people... for money.

Directing this 136-minute action/adventure/sci-fi is James Gunn.

Some of the cast is: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha and Kurt Russell as Ego.

After saving the universe from Ronan the Accuser, the Guardians are now finding legitimate work and staying out of trouble. Unfortunately, being who they are, it's not long before a new trouble finds a way to start chasing the Guardians across the universe. On the upside, while dodging danger, Star-Lord may have found out who his father is...

For those that don't know, back in 1969 Arnold Drake (writer) and Gene Colan (artist) created the comic book heroes known as GOTG (Guardians of the Galaxy). Back then the team was made up of
individuals like Major Victory, Martinex, Charlie-27, Yondu, Star Hawk, Aleta and Nikki. Like today's team, the original team came from different corners of the galaxy and came together for a common good. In 2008 Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning pulled together another team and started saving the universe all over again.

I gotta say, as sequels go I was pleasantly surprised. Yeah, the trailers looked great and made the film "seem" like it was going to be awesome, but sometimes the finished product doesn't always turn out as advertised. Just look at, I don't know, the Suicide Squad (2016) movie if you need an example of trailer vs final product. Here, however, the GOTG gave us everything advertised and more! I think one of the reasons GOTG has won everyone over is the characters and their stories. Compared to the other Marvel films, GOTG told its story in a different way. Maybe part of that was due to the fact that the Guardians are not your "typical" heroes like Iron Man or Captain America. You knew from the beginning that Iron Man was going to save the world, he had to because that's what "heroes" do. The Guardians, on the other hand, didn't "have" to save the world, but they did it anyway. Or maybe it's because we've become so used to watching clean-cut heroes save the world that it's a nice change of pace to see the anti-heroes, like Deadpool (2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy save the world for a change. I don't know...
                                   

Now, the story James Gunn came up with is based on the Guardians of the Galaxy (2008 team) created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. This time around Gunn furthers the GOTG storyline as a group but he also fills in some blanks with some back story for individual characters. We also get to see more development and growth in the characters. Just like the first movie, Gunn manages to cram in lots of humor, plenty of action, and a good storyline all the while sliding in more cameos and comic book nods.
I will say, this one had a bit of a different feel to it compared to the first film. Even though the sequel plays out a lot like the first film there are slight changes here and there that Gunn throws in to help make the film different and new. Basically, Gunn was able to recapture everything that made the first film so enjoyable.

The playthrough, just like the first movie, starts off by hooking you and doesn't let go until the credits. From beginning to end I was hooked and enjoying the whole ride. I will say this time around, through storyline and character backstory, Gunn explores a deeper side of things and there are a few more scenes that grab a hold and really pull on the heart strings than we saw in the first film.

The cast did a great job, again. Even though I thought everyone did such a great job, I think my standout performance picks would have to go to Rooker, Bautista and Pratt. Those three guys got to show more range with their characters this time around. Bautista got to show more of his comical side, while Rooker and Pratt, though they had funny moments, were able to show more depth with their characters. Now, seeing Russell in the line-up was super cool, but actually watching him was even better. Russell brings a lot of familiarity to the Ego role. Quite a few times I saw some of his other characters, like the fun side of Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China (1986) or the sheer badassness of Snake Plissken from Escape from New York (1981) shine through. Either way you cut it, Russell was a great addition to an already amazing cast.
                 

As for the special effects, if you thought the first movie was good... you're gonna love this one. We get treated to tons of eye candy that's spread out over space battles, fight scenes, great looking costumes/ scenery and new alien races. I wasn't sure what to think of a baby Groot running around the movie, but what they did with Groot actually added a lot of fun to the scenes (and admittedly, he was pretty freaking cute). Who knew a high pitched Vin Disel would be something I would enjoy listening to?
                                       
Side note: In April (2017) James Gunn said that he would be returning to write/direct GOTG Vol. 3, but as of now (5/6/2017) there are no details as to what direction the story will go.

Side... side note: As always, if you're into watching the post credit scenes then get comfortable because once the credits started rolling I counted like 5 post scenes and they were all pretty entertaining.

Overall, the Guardians have another winner on their hands and if you get the chance this is one definitely worth catching on the big screen... your eyeballs will thank you!

It's rated PG-13 for violence and language.

4 stars


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