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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Delivers The Fun, Technicolor Adventure You’d Expect From James Gunn

4 out of 5 Star-Lords.

If you have no taste and hate ’80 nostalgia, then you’re not going to like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Writer and director James Gunn delivers another fun, technicolor adventure with just enough heart to remind you this movie isn’t all dick jokes and superheroes.

Whereas the first movie centered on a motley crew of loveable misfits coming together, Vol. 2 puts the focus on family and how everyone, no matter how messed up their past might be, desires to be a part of one. For those with deep-seated family issues, this film is especially for you.

Picking up where the first one left off, the Guardians are riding high off their defeat of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and have landed a neat gig protecting some powerful explosives for a group of arrogant but ridiculously good looking gold people. If there was ever a physical embodiment of how the 1% view themselves, this is probably it. These advanced beings, led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), soon find themselves on an intergalactic witchhunt for our beloved heroes just as Peter Quill is .

when a human-like being named Ego rescues the team and invites them for a nice little getaway on his home planet. egomaniac who literally spread his seed throughout the galaxy with hopes of ruling it. Could it be? Is that a thinly-veiled metaphor for the fragile male ego or am I reaching for the stars?

It’s doubtful that Ego will inspire a legion of cosplayers like Ronan the Accuser, but Kurt Russell makes for a charming and decent enough adversary. He’s by no means terrible and his feathered hair is nothing short of fabulous, but I’m not rushing to the watercooler to talk about what an awesome bad guy he was. As a matter of fact, I’m more likely to gush over

Ahead of release, Gunn promised a stronger female presence and, given there were only about two women in the previous film, he clears a pretty low bar. With that said, one of the film’s biggest highlights is the deeper exploration of the complicated relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan)—sister assassins pitted against one another by their father, Thanos. It’s refreshing to see an explanation given for why Nebula is so hell-bent on destruction and how her desire for sisterhood played into that. Side note: Both are badass and deserve all of the screen-time.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the role of other women in the film like Ayesha, whose regal presence and lack of self-awareness provide some unforgettably funny moments.  And did I mention that her people remotely operate their spacecraft like a video game thus gifting us with some really cool, elaborate battle sequences? Yeah, that was pretty dope.

Speaking of kickass women characters, let’s talk about Mantis (Pom Klementieff) who is most certainly not repulsive as Drax repeatedly claims. I know that his thing is to be a brutally honest jerk to those around him but seeing him call her hideous and worthless to her face was a little hard to watch. It felt all too real, especially when she accepts his word as fact and repeats those things. Yeah it’s a movie and the scenes are actually kind of amusing, but I also can’t ignore how prevalent and detrimental that is for women in the real word. It took me out of the movie for a brief moment.

I will say that Gunn did justice to Yondu, played by his close friend Michael Rooker. In the same way that Joss Whedon highlighted Hawkeye in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Gunn takes care to give Rooker’s exiled ravager the sort of hero’s edit you’d see on RuPaul’s Drag Race. First, there’s the public shaming for his wrongdoings by close friends including Sylvester Stallone and then mutiny, which also came with one of the most emotionally compromising moments of the film—Baby Groot being bullied. But don’t worry, it’s brief and he returns to his role as resident show stealer and the most adorable wood creature in the galaxy.

Back to Yondu, fair warning that he has a heart-to-heart with Rocket that will leave you reaching for the tissues. Actually, several of his scenes will have that effect. It’s just a shame

Despite the larger scale, Vol 2. is exactly the superhero film you’d expect from James Gunn. It’s a whimsical, slightly inappropriate but damn fun ride with even more ’80s references and another killer soundtrack that will surely be stuck in your head for weeks to come. I wouldn’t call it a game changer, but a great superhero film overall.

4 our of 5 stars. 

Additional thoughts:

  • I need a Ravagers spinoff movie STAT.
  • RIP but OMG, !

(image: screencap)

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