Back in the endless mists of time that was 3 years ago, geek God James Gunn emerged from the world of low budget comedy/horror to knock an interstellar home run with the surprise smash Guardians Of The Galaxy. As history would tell us that when such a suprise strikes multiplexes, the inevitable sure fire sequel can only be a disappointment (see Iron Man 2).
Thankfully and amazingly, this is not the case and what Gunn has pulled off here is a triumph comparable to the confidence displayed by Sam Raimi when comparing his first and second Spider-Man flicks.
Given the unimaginable freedom one must get when you know that your bizarre movie and odd cast of characters WORK, Gunn is free to go hyper-weird with his own little corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (there are precious little strands connecting it to everything else save minor lip service paid to Thanos and The Infinity Stones) and it pays off beautifully.
Almost every aspect of the original has been beefed up to the max here. The visuals are devastatingly lush, the easy going camaraderie is easier and the action is huge, pulling together numerous threads into a huge storyline that somehow stands on the right side of bloated.
In true Empire Strikes Back style the team separate into smaller groups that deal each with their own problems. Yes, Star-Lord himself Peter Quill finally meets his father, the god like Ego (little g), Rocket is having problems with the whole family thing and runs into Michael Rooker’s fan favorite Yondu, sisters Gamora and Nebula clash over their abusive childhood and professional scene stealer Drax forges a bizarrely touching relationship with Ego’s servant, the empathic and highly naive Mantis.
And Baby Groot? He’s just here to dance.
I once, years ago described the first Guardians as pouring pure joy into each one of your eyeballs. Keeping in with this theme I suppose Vol 2 is tantamount to swallowing a condom full of joy and trying to smuggle it into another country only to have the condom burst in your stomach and having a joy overdose right in the middle of the airport. Or something.
Whatever. What I’m trying to say here is that I genuinely believe that this is a superior sequel that narrowly edges past the original.
Any problems? All minor and nothing that the great vibes and awesome tunes don’t cover with aplomb. The crowd pleasing moments hits with impressive regularity. Kurt Russell impresses as Ego, his clean, crisp performance raising another rather basic Marvel antagonist into something recalling Jeff Bridges in the first Iron Man (a de-aged pre-credits Russell wooing Star-Lord’s mum with flowing locks and a sports car is fantastic). From a credits sequence that ignores the usual massive opening action sequence in favour to an oblivious Groot dancing through the carnage, to the 5 (5!) post credit sequences that close the film (3 jokey, 2 plot based if you must know) GOTGV2 knocks it entirely out of the park, gets even better with a second viewing and now makes the similarly whacky Thor: Ragnarok a cosmic based must see when it hits here in October.
All hail the A-holes. Or should that be A+ holes.