The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a surprising hit. Based on a lesser-known Marvel superhero team that very few people ever expected there to be a movie based on, the film won audiences over with its mix of humour and action, being called one of Marvel’s best movies by not just many fans, but even notable comic writer and artist Jim Starlin. Therefore, expectations have been high for its sequel. The sequel in question strives to pick up on many of the plot points of the original and introduce many new ones. While this could have led to a movie that meandered and lost track of itself, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” manages to avoid that pitfall and provide an entertaining film.
The film centers around the mysteries that the first film left unanswered about the father of Chris Pratt’s character, Peter Quill. In the film, Quill finds out that his father is an immensely powerful being named Ego, portrayed by Kurt Russell. The audience is left guessing about what Ego’s true intentions are throughout the film. While fans of the comics will be a little ahead of the rest of the audience, there are enough changes made to the character that he still holds surprises for all viewers. Russell’s performance makes the character both intimidating and loose in a way that keeps audiences unsure of how to feel about him.
One of the most impressive parts of the film is how it manages to balance a humongous cast of characters. The Guardians, made up of Quill, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket and Vin Diesel’s Groot, are not the only protagonists in the film, but they each play important roles in it. Michael Rooker’s Yondu also plays a major part in the film and has his backstory fully fleshed out to make him one of its most compelling characters. Finally, Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, while getting less focus than the other main cast members, still plays off the rest of the cast well and has some memorable moments.
The film not only balances a large number of protagonists, but also several antagonists. Elizabeth Debicki gives an entertaining performance as Ayesha, the leader of a race called The Sovereign who have been genetically engineered to be “perfect.” Between her race’s interesting backstory and distinctive visual appearance, she draws the viewer’s attention in all of her scenes. Hopefully her character will continue to be a major antagonist in future Marvel films. Chris Sullivan also gives an amusing performance as Taserface, an antagonist who is mainly defined by the fact that other characters cannot stop laughing at his ridiculous name. Neither of these two villains are especially three-dimensional, but they play their parts as secondary antagonists well without overstaying their welcomes in the film.
One of the most engaging characters in the film is Karen Gillan’s Nebula. While she seems to be an antagonist, she is also a very sympathetic character. Gillan’s performance elevates Nebula’s compelling backstory to really make her the kind of character that viewers will hope to see in future installments of the franchise to complete her character arc.
Another of the film’s strengths is balancing seriousness with comedy. While it has many funny lines, especially from Drax, the film is not afraid to dive into darker and more emotional scenes. The focus of the film is really the relationships between its characters, and many of those scenes contain very well done emotional moments. The great chemistry between all of the cast members help to make it hard not to take an interest in all of the relationships between the characters, even though audience members are asked to care about so many that it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by trying to care about all of them in an inferior film.
Further strengthening the film are the creative designs of the characters and worlds. The makeup and costumes are excellent and many of the vehicles, especially the one that Yondu and Rocket fly in on near the climax, have unique abilities and are enjoyable to watch.
Overall, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is an entertaining sequel that not only gives satisfactory answers to many of the questions from the first film, but also introduces memorable new characters and superbly furthers the arcs and relationships of the characters from the first film.