Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Vin Diesel, Elizabeth Debicki
Plot: Peter Quill discovers that not only is his father alive, but he is a Celestial being as well. Elsewhere, thanks to Rocket stealing some valuable batteries from the people of Sovereign, the Guardians are now hunted relentlessly across the galaxy.
Review: GOTG Vol. 1 was a lot of fun, much like The Avengers were in the first film. Watching a bunch of misfits who can't stand each other eventually work together as a team is always entertaining. GOTG worked because like The Avengers, they didn't take themselves too seriously and balanced the comedy and humor well. In fact, GOTG had more comedy than The Avengers.
Now in Vol. 2, we pick up a few months after Vol. 1, when the Guardians take a job with the Sovereign, protecting a bunch of batteries from a giant alien. They succeed, but Rocket does the unthinkable and steal the batteries himself, thus angering the Sovereign, and get chased across the galaxy. They run into Ego, a Celestial being who reveals himself to be Star-Lord's long lost father. Ego attempts to make up for lost time, but Gamora senses something amiss. In the meantime, the Sovereign hire Yondu and his crew to track the Guardians down, but Yondu gets sentimental, and we the audience learn a thing or two about his past with Quill.
Writer/director James Gunn clearly intended to make this film bigger and more fun, and to that extent he succeeds. By expanding on Yondu's character, Gamora's strained relationship with her sister Nebula and the addition of Mantis, Ego's pet alien to the mix, Gunn needed more time to make sure everyone gets their spotlight. Thus it was extremely wise for him to divide the team in two in the second act, allowing everyone to have their moment to shine.
While Vol. 2 is chock full of action and laughs (there's a punchline in almost every other scene), there are some quieter, dramatic moments as well. While everyone I figure, would be touched by Yondu's backstory, I preferred Nebula's damaged relationship with Gamora and how much she hates her father Thanos, which will most certainly play itself out in future instalments.
The entire cast are all game for this sequel, and it shows. While Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana get to show their more serious side this round, it's the opposite for Dave Bautista, whose Drax becomes more of a comedic character this time. I gotta admire Bautista though. He's not a great actor, but Drax is a character clearly tailor made for him. Groot, now being Baby Groot, is portrayed as a cute and cuddly character. I honestly preferred the old Groot, who had more presence. Bradley Cooper still shines as the wisecracking Rocket while newcomer Pom Klementieff plays Mantis in the same vein Bautista played Drax in the previous film; a funny dumb character. Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan are outstanding as well as Yondu and Nebula respectively while Kurt Russell lends his solid screen presence as Ego. The Man From UNCLE's Elizabeth Debicki is a bit forgettable as Sovereign leader Ayesha, though to be honest, she isn't the main villain here.
As with the first film, the soundtrack is one of its selling points, but this time around I felt Gunn overdid this part. He underlined every other scene with a song from the awesome mixtape, and by the half mark I was getting tired of this tactic. The final battle sequence suffered from a tad too much CGI as well, but the dramatic impact at the end kinda saved it.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed GOTG Vol. 2 despite a couple of hiccups and the fact that it doesn't tie in to the larger storyline heading into the upcoming Infinity War. Do watch out for a handful of cameo appearances and five post-credit sequences. (8/10)