‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is charming and hilarious

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

A race of egotistical gold-skinned aliens, a dancing tree with a three-word vocabulary, a socially awkward empath, a sentient planet and a universe-level extinction event; it’s just another day in the lives of Star-Lord and his ragtag crew in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

“Vol. 2” sees James Gunn return to the double role of writer and director after the wild success of his first film. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Michael Rooker also reprise their roles. Joining the cast are Pom Klementieff as Mantis, the newest member of the Guardians, Kurt Russell as Ego, the father of main character Star-Lord and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, better known as Kismet or simply Her from the comics.

Klementieff plays an alien who has emotional empathy strong enough to simply touch someone and know what they are feeling in vivid detail. The addition of Klementieff’s character Mantis is one of the high points of the film. Several interactions between Mantis and Bautista’s Drax are the funniest moments in a movie that is full of comedic scenes.

Similar to the original, “Vol. 2” is a more light-hearted affair than most of Marvel’s other films. Comedy remains the primary focus here, but it’s not without some rather touching scenes. The first time around, the movie was about a thrown-together team that forms friendships through its combined trials. This time, it’s about the dysfunctional family they have become and their relationships with outside groups such as Yondu’s splinter faction of the Reavers or Star-Lord’s dad Ego.

There are a handful of great surprises sprinkled throughout the movie via unexpected cameos or pop-culture jokes that are just too great not to laugh at.

From a technical standpoint, Gunn’s direction and the cinematography by Henry Braham are excellent. The action sequences can be very busy with the amount of on-screen movement, but it never feels overwhelming. In several scenes, the timing of motion is slowed down to allow viewers to bask in the carnage that is about to ensue.

A minor complaint about the movie is the over abundance of post-credit sequences. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” has five and none are of vital importance or reveal anything too shocking. While the credit scroll has more going on than most, with random lines changing to “I am Groot” before appearing correctly, it’s still a drag to be forced to sit through them for post-credit sequences. One of them is even a little head-scratching as it flies in the face of information established in the first movie.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” isn’t breaking any new ground in this installment but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The first film was wildly successful because of its charming characters with their often bizarre banter, goofy stylistic sensibilities and bombastic action sequences. All of those elements are back in spades this time around.

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