By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)

 

I am Groot! Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 returns for another space jumping and mind blowing cosmic adventure. I absolutely enjoyed the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 and I felt that though this film continues their journey as defenders of the galaxy, their novelty was starting to wear thin on viewers. However, it was nice to see the team consisting of Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautisa), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) going toe to toe with monsters and getting out of risky situations.

The movie opens with the usual Marvel title card and the opening scene is of the team battling a huge inter-dimensional monster known as the Abilisk set to the sound of the Awesome Mix Volume 2 with Baby Groot hilariously dancing amidst the team trying to find the best way to slay the monster. This should be Marvel’s attempt to capitalize on the cuteness factor of Groot in driving up sales for all things Marvel. More importantly, the battle takes place on one of the worlds that opens up to hints of the next phase of where Marvel is heading which is the exciting introduction to the cosmic universe.

Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race hands over Gamora’s sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan) who was caught trying to infiltrate the planet to steal the batteries. Nebula is still bitter over the pain that she was made to go through as a child due to her father, Thanos cruel ways in trying to pit her against her older sister, Gamora. Thanos is actually only referenced in name a few times between conversations with Gamora and Nebula. Nebula is also shown as an unlikely anti-hero for the guardians and even teams up with them later in the film. She has shown dislike for her sister but at the same time wants revenge on her father. It seems like she will be an ally in the fight against Thanos and that would be a pretty welcome sight.

The film really dives deeper in each character’s back story development which is a good element that Director James Gunn was probably trying to work in as the first film seemed to revolve a lot on Star Lord. The main storyline of the film revolves around Peter Quill aka Star Lord trying to find out who the identity of his father is. The big reveal comes early in the film where Ego (Kurt Russell) manages to track down Peter and his team. Kurt Russell does a fantastic job in playing both his father and antagonist in the film as Ego, the Living Planet.

However, the plot twist is that Star Lord is half celestial and human, while Ego is a celestial and he teaches Star Lord to harness his hidden powers. I would like to see Star Lord continue to nurture these powers as it would be a great asset to the team if he still has them after the events of the film which are left unanswered.

This film is mostly about redemption and family as due to Rocket Raccoon’s compulsion to steal some of the batteries, they are hunted by an angry Ayesha and she goes to the extent of hiring Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) to find the guardians in retrieving the stolen batteries. This also marks the redemptive arc for Yondu’s character that stands up to Taserface and his group, the Ravagers who is also after the guardians in a bid to capture them. Yondu had shown to have played a true father figure to Peter Quill and manages to redeem himself to the Ravager community before the film’s end credits that came at a price.

Other than Yondu and Nebula seemingly being made temporary team members of the guardians, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) who is Ego’s assistant joins the team to take down Ego after he goes rogue in a bid for planet domination. Mantis is shown to have an affinity with Drax which shows his softer side and comical moments in the film.

I felt that the film had utilized the old formula of good versus evil and there was no real threat, unlike the first film with the introduction of the infinity stones. Also, I would need to watch the film again to catch brief cameos from minor characters like Howard the Duck and Cosmo. Also, the audience are treated to cameos from Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone) and the original guardians which have Michael Rosenbaum, Michelle Yeoh and Miley Cyrus. Director James Gunn had gone on to say that Starhawk and his team would player a larger role and presence moving forward. Stan Lee and David Hasselhoff have cameos in the film and it seems that Stan Lee is one of the Watchers in disguise. The Watchers have ties to Fantastic Four and they are the oldest beings in the galaxy, known for their vast knowledge of the universe. This might mark hints that the Watchers might be showing up down the line and maybe a better film portrayal of the Fantastic Four, hopefully.

The biggest hint of where we might see the Guardians next comes in a mid-credit scene where Ayesha has created a new being, Adam Warlock who will be trained to destroy the Guardians which might be seen in the next sequel which will see James Gunn returning to the director seat.

Overall, I am satisfied with the character progression for the film but the storyline somehow loses the “wow” factor in terms of resolution. The soundtrack has some good songs but it is not as memorable as those songs from the first film. We might also see a fully grown Groot somewhere down the line and I would like to see both Mantis and Kraglin play larger roles in the team’s dynamics going forward. The next film would be Thor: Ragnarok and I hope that Thanos has some cameo so that it would give the audience of the impending events of Avengers: Infinity Wars.

I cannot wait and for now, we just need to be contented with the expansion of the Marvel’s cinematic universe beyond Phase 3 which is already in active development that would open more interesting storylines to different worlds. That, I would pay to watch and I am so ready for more space adventures! Oh, and remember to add those awesome mixtapes to your playlist!

Rating: 4/5

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