The galaxy needs guarding again, join me as I find out if the Guardians can live up to their job title a second time and guard the galaxy in my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Marvel have managed to make a thriving business out of taking B and C grade comic book heroes and turning them into box office gold. Before 2008 virtually no one outside of the readers would have known who Tony Stark was, but seven years later he is a household name. Guardians of the Galaxy took that model and put it through the ultimate stress-test. Taking a group that no one had ever heard of that included an angry talking racoon and a zen monosyllabic tree and making them into one of their most entertaining movies in their roster was something that no one expected. To say that expectations were high for their return would be understating things a tad. I’m so happy to be able to say that James Gunn and the returning, and new cast, have managed to make a film that not only hits all the great points that made the original so entertaining, but builds on all of them to make one of those rarest of beasts; a sequel that outshines the original.
In a time that seems to be increasingly dark and filled with angst there is a space for movies that bring some colour and light into the world. Guardians Vol. 2 joyously skips into that space and not only owns, but dominates it. There is so much colour squeezed into every frame of this movie that it often feels as though it is trying to leap off the screen and into the visual centres of your brain. The palette is not the only joyful thing about proceedings. The script is incredibly tight and very, very funny. That being said, comedy timing is not the only thing that this script has to bring to proceedings it also packs in the character arcs like there’s no tomorrow. Often in ensemble movies some characters will get short shrift, not so for this team. Everyone has something to learn, some way of growing and something to take from the plot. And on top of that this film has more heart than a world record breaking gathering of octopuses that have gone for a group hug (for those out there who are not up on their cephalopod facts; octopuses have three hearts).
“But wait!” I hear you cry, “A script is only so good as the actors who perform it!”
That is a good point and I’m incredibly glad to be able to say that everyone in this film is on top form. The original team are clearly having a great time fleshing out the characters that they first brought to the screen three years ago. In any other movie any of these characters would be the standout one that everyone would be talking about on the way out of the cinema, but this time even Baby Groot doesn’t outshine the rest as they are all so on point. The newcomers are also not left behind. This film has confirmed a long-standing suspicion of mine; that adding Kurt Russell immediately makes a movie at least thirty percent better. He is charisma incarnate and I loved watching him whenever he was on screen. Pom Klementieff is brilliant as Mantis and brings a much-needed innocence to the team, which makes the contrast between them all the more amusing. Even the bad guys get a good outing this time around, breaking the growing meme that Marvel can’t do villains other than Loki (but I shan’t say any more for fear of spoilers).
Lastly, you can’t talk about a Guardians film without mentioning the soundtrack. This one, like the previous, is an instant classic that really makes the movie feel personal, fun and completely entertaining. 70’s and 80’s classics repeatedly lend an air of whimsy that really gives these films their own personality in a genre that some would say is increasingly homogenous. I regularly found myself wanting to dance along with it. I look forward to a future where dance/sing along showings of the Guardians movies are a thing!
To sum up; this is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year, and I think has a serious chance of keeping that spot. You owe it to yourself to go and immerse yourself in the joy and heart that is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
I am Groot.