Fab follow-up is just cosmic
Very few non-comic book aficionados will have heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy prior to their 2014 movie.
But following the wildly entertaining blockbuster’s critical and commercial success, the wise-cracking anti-heroes are no longer Marvel’s plucky underdogs – they are bona fide superstars who will share a screen with the Avengers in next year’s Infinity War.
As a result, expectation levels for this sequel were sky high, especially with all the key players – led by writer-director James Gunn – back on board and intriguing new cast additions including one-time Tango & Cash Kurt Russell (Ego) and Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord).
Thankfully, there’s no law of diminishing returns here as Gunn treats us to another riotous adventure that’s every bit as delightful and engaging as the first flick.
He’s taken some inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back as he splits the team in two for a large chunk of proceedings and saddles Chris Pratt’s (Star-Lord) lead with daddy issues that impact on the whole universe.
But don’t expect Empire levels of darkness. Sure there are moments of gloom – corpses floating in space, a gut-punching revelation about Star-Lord’s mother – but Guardians Vol.2 is crammed with zest, energy and hilarity.
From Pratt’s rogue-with-a-heart to Michael Rooker’s (Yondu) layered buccaneer, you’ll struggle to find a weak link in the cast chain. The Vin Diesel-voiced Baby Groot (“too adorable to kill”) steals scenes alongside cranky buddy Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his cutting jibes.
Ex-wrestler Dave Bautista’s Drax and his hearty laughter and mis-pronounced names are comedy gold and Zoe Saldana (Gamora) and Karen Gillan’s (Nebula) warring siblings are given more to work with this time around.
As is often the case with Marvel sequels, there are a lot of new characters – and locations – thrown into the mix and while some may struggle to keep up with everything going on, Russell delivers grandeur in spades and Pom Klementieff ’s doe-eyed Mantis perfectly slots into scenes with the Guardians.
Gunn’s flair for funny is stunning; from severed toes and classic arcade game-style remote-piloted spaceships to a discussion about who has tape at a crucial moment, your face muscles will be hurting afterwards from all the laughter.
The director films using a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours and sets up musical queues for another top 70s and 80s-tastic soundtrack.
It’s very effects-heavy – with some scenes looking a little video-gamey – but this is cosmic Marvel after all, and it builds to a fist-pumping final showdown and poignant denouement.
Gunn’s superlative squad of scoundrels once again prove to be such wicked cool company you’d pay to watch them sat on a couch trading barbs.
I can’t wait to see them try to out-snark Tony Stark, butt heads with The Hulk and horrify Captain America with their language.
Comedy goldPratt and Bautista shine in the comic book sequel