Three years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, “that guy” is now more widely known as household name and superstar Chris Pratt and the Guardian characters are no longer obscure, but beloved. Writer and director James Gunn has a significant task to live up the incredibly high bar set by himself; How does one replicate the magic of the original without making it feel rehashed?
Well, starting with Baby Groot dancing to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” while an epic battle sequence takes place in the background certainly seems like a good way to start!
The supporting characters from the first film really get a chance to shine in the sequel. Gamora and Drax, who once were extremely similar in their misunderstanding of Peter’s Earth references and their tortured pasts now each have very distinct traits that make them much stronger independently. Nebula and Yondu, our blue-skinned secondary villains from before, now appear working in tandem with the Guardians. Nebula’s relationship with Gamora is much more clearly defined and actually quite heartbreaking. And Yondu...oh Yondu. This movie is basically James Gunn’s love letter to Michael Rooker, with whom Gunn has worked with outside of the MCU as well. Gunn was incredibly excited to bring Yondu back, and how he uses him and adapts his character in Vol. 2 makes that very clear.
Where the writing encounters problems is in tone. To Gunn’s credit, he tried playing with even more layers of emotionality; In addition to the typical effervescent hilarity, there are some incredibly touching moments as well as some very dark, disturbing sequences. However, sometimes these lines get blurred, which very much confused the audience I saw the film with. In one scene that I read as very sweet and genuine, half of the theater thought that it was overly sappy and was laughing at it as though it were a joke. This happened a few times, and it would have been nicer to see clear distinctions between these tones.
The “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” soundtrack that underscores Vol. 2 is absolutely fantastic, and complements the plot just as perfectly as “Vol. 1” did for the original film. Finally, the production design was some of the best that I have ever seen in a Marvel movie. The design of both Ego’s and the Ravagers’ spaceships were amazing, new character Ayesha’s palace and throne room was elegant and stunning, and the design of Ego’s planet itself was astounding.
This is needless to say, as this is a MCU movie, but please stay for the end credits sequences. There are five – count them – FIVE credits scenes, none of which, I am annoyed to report, have anything to do with the next Avengers film, Infinity Wars, where the Guardians gang will join our other MCU favorites. Despite still not knowing how our galactic friends will become further involved in the fight against Thanos, these sequences are very fun and full of Easter Eggs, so please stay for them!
Rating: 5 out of 6 Infinity Stones