Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

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The intergalactic idiots are back in a sequel worthy of the original. 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Peter's friends: Rocket and Baby Groot

 

The dysfunctional Guardians certainly put the ‘family’ into family entertainment. Regardless of their cultural background, skin colour or texture, these freedom fighters are one close-knit kin. For anybody anticipating a dip in the entertainment value of the first film, their fears should be allayed during the sequel’s opening minutes. Following a romantic prologue in Missouri, 1980, featuring a (very) young Kurt Russell and Peter Quill’s mother (Laura Haddock), the film jumps forward 34 years into outer space. Here, Peter Quill himself (Chris Pratt), the green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an emotionally ambiguous Drax (Dave Bautista) and everybody’s favourite irrascible raccoon battle the mother of all monsters. And in the foreground Baby Groot trips the light fantastic to the Electric Light Orchestra's 'Mr Blue Sky.' Blissfully unaware of the surrounding peril, Baby Groot – the off-shoot of the walking, talking tree voiced by Vin Diesel in the first film – takes centre stage while Armageddon rages behind him. It’s a deliriously funny and entertaining sequence.

 

Then, as the personality traits of our heroes are further fine-tuned, so various intergalactic aberrations attempt to make their life hell. And the joy of it all is that every time a new actor is introduced, he or she is invariably cast against type. There’s certainly plenty of menace supplied by Elizabeth Debicki as a vengeful High Priestess who, like Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger, is coated completely in gold; while Scotland’s very own Karen Gillan kicks major ass as Gamora’s fatally resentful sister Nebula. But it’s the interaction between the Guardians themselves, comic or otherwise, that really lifts this head and shoulders above most other Marvel Comic adaptations. There’s a growing sexual tension between Quill and Gamora, an undefined relationship between Drax and a child-like being with accentuated antenna, as well as the rites-of-passage of Baby Groot.

 

In the first film, a straight-faced Gamora feared that “I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the universe.” Of course, she’s not far off and the Four Stooges vibe is revved up a few decibels here as new characters are thrown into the mix. However, it’s the throwaway gags and deadpan delivery that keep this all so comically buoyant. There’s also a delicious absurdity in the film’s pop cultural sensibility woven through all the intergalactic spectacle. Whether it’s Peter Quill’s fantasy of reconstructing Heather Locklear or the grotesque Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) screeching, “I’m Mary Poppins, you’all!” there’s constant allusive joy. And for those jaded by the incessant CGI of these superhero antics, the soundtrack ripped from Peter Quill’s eclectic mixtape should place it in a whole new perspective. And you have to stay until after the closing credits.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel (voice only), Bradley Cooper (voice only), Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, David Hasselhoff, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Stan Lee, Jeff Goldblum (blink or miss him).

 

Dir James Gunn, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay James Gunn, Ph Henry Braham, Pro Des Scott Chamblis, Ed Fred Raskin and Craig Wood, Music Tyler Bates, Costumes Judianna Makovsky.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney.

135 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 28 April 2017. Cert. 12A.