‘We Are Groot’ is the new battle cry of a generation and although, not the most awesomely awesome flick by all accounts - this team of oddballs deliver once again with a solid sequel. Opening with ‘Mr Blue Sky’ (Electric Light Orchestra) the title screen set against the bombast of fireworks sets the bar pretty damn high… This, is probably my favourite start to a movie - Even toppling Pulp Fiction’s diner scene and perhaps even the first minute of Goodfellas. (A bold claim? Controversial? Maybe not so in technicality or through dialogue, but in terms of fun. I reckon so) As I said, the bar’s high and my popcorn is a falling through an agape mouth. I’m psyched.
And then, the rest of the movie happens.
Not to say it’s bad nor to entertain that idea. I loved and liked and cried and raged at Guardians 2 - I was frustrated at times. Especially coming off the back of Logan, I’m sure. But this is a movie that will split fans and critics alike. Fans of the first will expect better action, more chemistry and care given to these characters, as well as higher stakes. It depends on how critical this is to you. It depends on how much you also value plot. You see, action takes a backseat to comedy. The jokes are thick, fast and may disorientate. Some hit. Some miss. Some drag and some are missed. But there is certainly no half assery present which would be all too easy for a sequel to do… lie back on its laurels and coast home after the first home run. Guardians doesn’t do this, not even an ounce. It’s a brave but sometimes misguided Rocket.
Speaking of Rocket, the Raccoon was my star player in the first. Yes, even trumping Groot! And so does he once again here (for me, I’ll say again) because Bradley Cooper is clearly having a blast with his character: the cute, smash mouthing, thief who loves toting weapons is the animal/alien/human/thing that I root for. His emotional moments are brilliant. His jokes and jibes come off the best. He kicks the most ass and he is in most of the best scenes. Drax, Groot, Yondu, Peter and Mantis are all in top form also… Drax: savage and not equipped for sarcasm gets the biggest belly laughs. Groot: or baby Groot, is wonderfully childlike. Yondu: the new kid, simply rocks the movie. Peter: is still the lovable oaf and relatable one. Mantis: another welcome addition, will surely be the face of every cosplay. I could waffle on forever about the six piece but where would we be? Point is, these characters are done right. They banter and argue. Learn and grow. They’re some of the MCU’s best ensemble which is a shame for Gamora and her sister Nebula. The two aforementioned ladies are pretty one dimensional. One for a romance and both involved in a feud that feels a little bit unnecessary at times. Having said that, Nebula does drop some information on the great Thanos. It gives a little weight to her but not quite enough. Kurt Russell as Ego is... need I say more? He’s an acting legend, given enough service. No problems there.
And the key question - how are the villains? Marvel enthusiasts know most of the evil sweeping the cinematic universe has been cookie cutter. Guardians 2 changes this up… we have two main home wreckers: one is bloody brilliant, the other is a big fat yawn. It’s not groundbreaking but it is progress. However, I hope future installments ditch the golden swarm of bland bad guys.
In short, Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 is grand: boasting stellar sound, great action, the best visuals this side of the Galaxy and a soundtrack which rivals the first... All the while bursting with little extra tidbits and fan service. Even so, all is not perfect. The film itself bounced between a three and a five (for me) downsides being it’s all too ambitious run time, attempt at relentless jokes, some choppy pace and a few moments that spoilt the milk (back to the golden guys and the sisters).
It sounds mixed because it is but overall I enjoyed this crazy ride, go see it and prepare to get Hooked On A Feeling! Again.