At this stage in the superhero game, nearly ten-years after Iron Man saw a resurgence in the genre, it’s safe to say that audiences are always looking for something different from the the one that’s came before it. It’s no surprise that this year’s Logan, a film that was more Western than it was superhero, proved both a critical and commercial success; made violent and sweary off of the back of the rude, crude and tremendously silly Deadpool from the year before. Well, things don’t get more different than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the sequel to Marvel’s hit sci-fi of 2014, which sees all manner of alien worlds, space creatures, talking raccoons and humanoid mini-trees come together for what is quite easily the most colourful and enormously enjoyable films of its kind.
If you’ve seen the original, you’ll know what to expect this time around. The whole gang are back, more dysfunctional than ever and settling into their new titular positions. In terms of plot there’s not really a lot to spoil even if I wanted to, with the film’s weak central story just about keeping this instalment from topping the last. As well as lacking the narrative vigour of the first, this, just like other chapters in the ever-growing MCU, is also somewhat let down by a weak villain and the inevitable smashy, bashy, crashy action sequences that usually take up the final twenty-minutes of these movies.
But these weaker elements are easily overlooked in the long run, as there is still much fun to be had with this unique set of characters and their group dynamic. Through the constant bickering, the practical jokes and the insults, James Gunn’s writing of this oddball family ends up providing more laughs than most films actually trying to be funny – and that’s within the first ten-minutes, which features a “musical number” that is both hilarious and sweet. Here, the relationships between the central heroes are expanded and developed, particularly when it comes to some of the previously minor characters who are given more of an opportunity to shine.
Chris Pratt once again proves his worth as one of Hollywood’s best leading men working today, having the opportunity to bounce off of the legend that is Kurt Russell; the two charismatic actors making for quite the pairing. You’ve also got the likes of Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista (who has the greatest laugh ever captured on film) and Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon who are all perfect in their individual roles.
Then you come to Baby Groot, one of the most charming creations to have graced the cinema in recent years. This adorable little tree steals the show and your heart the moment he’s introduced, with his big brown eyes and childlike qualities placing him right at the top of the cuteness scale just before puppies and actual babies. Audiences are going to love him, and he’s easily the most memorable thing about the whole film.
Other positives are another jukebox soundtrack filled with an eclectic mix of hits, the vibrant visuals that pop off the screen, truly bringing the comic book art form to life in a way others have failed to do, and a real sense of consequence in the film’s final third which completely took me off guard. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is genuinely hilarious but it has a surprising amount of heart at its core, which makes for a touching conclusion that certainly moved myself and other members of the audience in my screening.
Speaking of which, this is absolutely the type of blockbuster that is best enjoyed with as many people as possible. Self-contained in the sense that it takes place in a whole other galaxy away from other superheroes in the Marvelverse, the story and characters are perfectly accessible to anybody who may not be a fan of the other films. It is exciting, warm and colourful fun that is crowd-pleasing cinema at its very best. Plus, you are guaranteed to fall in love with Baby Groot.
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