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

Way, way, back in the year 2014, everyone – including the nerdiest of nerds – thought that Marvel Studios was going to make its biggest mistake yet.

Riding high on an incredible run which peaked with the first team-up of The Avengers, Marvel was invincible. Nothing could stop them.

Nothing, we thought, except making a movie out of arguably their most obscure team of heroes.

Obscurity instead seemed to be the name of the game, as Guardians of the Galaxy succeeded by building upon the lack of expectations, tossing away notions of what came before to put together a crazy, hilarious, 70’s rock-fueled sci-fi romp starring a sitcom supporting cast member, an angry green female warrior, an overly serious ex-pro wrestler, a CGI raccoon and a tree.

Hundreds of millions of dollars later, the sequel, the appropriately titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has hit theaters, this time facing their biggest enemy yet…expectations. You can barely move an inch without being bombarded by some sort of Guardians-branded merchandise, and the world is expecting another triumph from writer-director James Gunn.

Folks, I have good news. Gunn has delivered, even if he’s going to shun some of you away with this new installment of the saga.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is what it says in the title. More. More needle drops, more Rocket, more Groot, more Star-Lord, more Gamora, even more Nebula and the Ravagers. Just more, more, more, more, more.

The plot, as it is laid out, is pretty simple. Set just months after the first movie, the Guardians are doing a mission for the Sovereigns, a gold-skinned race of genetically superior beings. Rocket decides to pull a fast one on them, and while completing their contracted upon mission, steals some of the Sovereigns all important, super valuable batteries. This causes the Sovereigns to chase the Guardians into space, into an incredible chase sequence – one, which they just barely escape thanks to a mysterious man in a mysterious ship.

Who is that man? Kurt Russell!

OK, he’s a Celestial (read: immortal God) named Ego, but he’s Kurt freaking Russell.

Turns out that Ego – and his assistant, an antenna’d alien named Mantis (Pom Klementieff, seemingly channeling Bjork) – have been searching for the Guardians. Why? Star-Lord is his son.

And that’s what allows Guardians Vol. 2 to channel the heart of the first, while allowing itself to get absolutely weird in the second. What made Guardians of the Galaxy tick was the universal idea that one’s family isn’t necessarily those of blood relation, but by those who rise to the occasion and support you in your time of need. James Gunn uses this sci-fi canvas to explore all sorts of matters of family – from absentee fathers, to the divide of siblings – but somehow makes it all work alongside awe-inspiring technicolor visuals, hilarious and brilliant action sequences, and a lovely soundtrack.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much some of the elements of the movie cut a little close to home, and some of the needle-drops were touched with personal memories – but when push comes to shove, that’s really what a good mix tape is all about, right? Grab a bunch of things you love, put them together for an audience with an open mind and open ears, and let them feel the emotions and journey you wish to set them upon.

James Gunn has prepared another volume of Guardians for us all to enjoy, and while not every track will work for everyone here – it’s a hell of a journey to be on.

I absolutely loved this, and I can’t wait for Vol. 3. Highly recommended.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is in theaters now.