The first Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite Marvel movies. It was funny, irreverent and totally unexpected that this band of misfits would fit together so well. I was hoping the sequel would find more of that ground to cover, but in an original way. I’m happy to say that for the most part, it does.
The original team is back; Starlord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon and even Groot, who is regrowing himself and is at a baby stage. He’s cute. The film is not at all crowded and gives itself room to breathe and develop its very likable ensemble cast. The two main plotlines deal with Peter Quill, Starlord, finding his father Ego (another brilliant performance by Kurt Russell), and the wrath of the Sovereign race as they pursue our heroes to recover some stolen property. Both storylines come to a crashing conclusion at the end, as a good explosive superhero film should.
Along the way, director James Gunn treats us to laughs, action and some unanticipated twists. Also, the design work on Ego’s planet is some of the most stunning art, color and overall design work since Dr. Strange. Those awe-inspiring visuals are worth the admission price alone.
Gunn also treats us to some new characters, including Ayesha, leader of the Sovereigns, Mantis, Ego’s ... assistant, and even a cameo by Sylvester Stallone, leader of pirate group the Ravagers. Michael Rooker is great as always as Ravager Yondu, and he has a glorious story arc. Mantis is right out of the comics, which I loved.
GOTG 2 is not quite as good as the original, but still filled with humor, action and hilarious one-liners. The relationships are expertly written, the characters all grow and change from their experiences, and the visuals are astounding. Unlike DC movies, Marvel movies are filled with joy. And GOTG 2 is one of the most joyous. I look forward to watching it many times more.
Rating: ****½ out of 5 stars