by Keith Hill
Rated M. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell. Directed by James Gunn.
Writer and director James Gunn has done it again: another irreverent take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Vol. 2 picks up not long after 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, with Peter Quill/Star Lord (Pratt), Gamora (Saldana), Drax (Bautista), Rocket (Cooper) and Baby Groot (Diesel) lending their gun-for-hire services to a highly developed and conceited race called The Sovereign. After offending the high priestess of The Sovereign, the Guardians find themselves under attack by an army of Sovereign drones.
Crash landing on an uninhabited planet, the group are rescued by Ego (Russell), Quill’s father, who has spent the past several decades searching for his son, and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Ego claims to be a god, and wants to reconnect with Peter, taking him, Gamora, and Drax back to his planet while Rocket and Groot repair their ship. But while Peter begins to bond with his father, Gamora and the others start to question Ego’s true motives.
The film weaves in a heap of different subplots, with a range of villains from the original film making a return – Yondu (Rooker), the scavenger who kidnapped and raised Peter; Nebula (Karen Gillian), Gamora’s sister, who is intent on continuing the violent sibling rivalry. But these subplots are skilfully weaved together, and never get confusing or take away from the main story.
Likewise, in a movie with so many lead characters, it would be easy for the plot to skimp on character development, but this isn’t the case with Guardians 2. With each of the Guardians, we get a little more of their back story, and see a little deeper into what makes them tick – what makes Rocket such a jerk; the strained sisterly relationship between Gamora and Nebula; and why Yondu never handed over the young Peter to his father after abducting him from Earth.
Like the original, the movie is quick to poke fun at the superhero genre, with every piece of inspiring and profound dialogue interrupted by one-liners. Likewise, the 80s pop-culture references abound, and the soundtrack is provided by the mixtape of 70s and 80s music that Peter receives at the end of the first movie. Likewise, keep an eye out for the numerous cameos by sci-fi and action movie stars, on top of the standard Marvel Stan Lee cameo.
But for all the gags, the film’s heart is the developing relationships between the Guardians, and the people around them. Formerly a bunch of antisocial, psychopathic loners, the gang struggles to figure out what it looks like to function as a team, despite their flaws and frustrations. But despite their differences, the group really do love each other. Seeing the conflict in the group, Nebula challenges them, ‘All you do is yell at each other, you’re not friends.’ ‘No,’ Drax replies, ‘we’re family.’
In lots of ways, the family of God is a lot like the Guardians family. We’re a bunch of sinful, broken people, brought together by something other than the blood of kinship. But unlike the Guardians, who are brought together by the blood of battle, Christians are brought together by the blood of the cross. In Christ, we have been given the type of relationship that the Guardians are longing for – one that’s not perfect yet, but one that stands up in the face of all that the evil forces of the universe can throw at it.
The Verdict: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 manages to keep the fun, irreverent and retro feel of the original film, but skillfully weaves plotlines together and helps us delve deeper into the psyche of the characters. 5/5
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens on April 25 in Australia and May 5 the USA.