‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ laugh out loud humor abounds

Andrew Shermoen

After the surprise hit that was “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014 I wondered if Marvel Studios could deliver an exciting and funny sequel that compared to its predecessor. Infused with laugh out loud moments, an incredible soundtrack and character driven drama “Guardians Vol. 2” isn’t only equally as fun, it’s an improvement.

Set a few years after the events of the first film the Guardians of the Galaxy team has been traveling around rescuing planets and performing odd jobs for everyone who can properly compensate them. After offending a race of people they just helped rescue they find themselves pursued by a massive armada. After crash-landing on a planet, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and a small reborn Baby Groot (high-pitched Vin Diesel) stay back to fix the ship as the rest of the team heads off to visit the solitary planet owned by Ego (Kurt Russell), a man claiming to Quill’s father. The separated members must find their way back to each other as their bond as teammates and family is tested at every turn.

“Guardians 2” feels less exploratory compared to its father film. It’s more about the characters being separated, both environmentally and emotionally, and trying to get back home. The change of pace works wonders for character development. While some will certainly be perturbed by the genuine difference in amount of action scenes compared to the first movie, I believe in quality over quantity. There may be fewer action scenes but they are just as good as the ones before. Not to mention how deep this new film dives into the personal demons and emotions at the center of these characters.

It’s incredible how much humanity director James Gunn has injected into some of these characters and how believable their emotional drive is. Quill’s developing and obsessive relationship with this new father is interesting and watching him have to decide between his father and his newly formed family with the Guardians adds a lot of tension, drama and heartbreak. Rocket and Yondu (Michael Rooker) form an interesting bond as they learn they are kindred spirits when it comes to their inability to form relationships with the people they love. Rooker’s performance as Yondu in this movie is exceptional. Not only does he bring pathos and emotion to a seemingly unlikeable rogue, but the story itself in Guardians goes above and beyond to make Yondu one of the most interesting and meaningful characters in the MCU to date. Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) also have a side-plot featuring the tumultuous relationship as sisters, and Gillan does a similar job to Rooker, taking a smaller character from the first film and giving them depth and development.

The only notable weak-link in the mix of interesting character relationships is a developing romance or friendship between Drax (Dave Bautista) and the newly introduced Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Both are incredibly funny and the introduction of Mantis as an innocent and emotional young lady who is being taught about the process of the world from a violence-loving maniac is funny and occasionally touching as Drax proves to be more calm and appreciative of the universe than his enthusiastic shouting and love of death would lead you to believe. It’s just that their budding romance feels shoved to the side in favor for more interesting storylines. Still moments between the two prove to be funny and somewhat moving.

The visuals are of course incredible. Rocket and Groot look more real than ever and the makeup effects really stepped up their game on the appearance of Drax, Nebula, Gamora, Yondu, and the gold-colored members of the Sovereign alien race. The soundtrack is incredibly energized by a flurry of 70’s hits. In particular the first action scene set to “Mr. Blue Sky” might be one of the most creative and fun Marvel fight scenes to date. The movie does tend to get weighed down after a while when the songs become a little too much though.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a wild jump gate ride through space. It’s uncanny and impressive ability to have you laugh and cry simultaneously is its greatest strength. What the film lacks in a flurry of action and, predictably, the unique feeling of the first movie, it makes up for in spades. With incredibly well-developed and perfectly written characters, visually impressive scenes of action, a killer soundtrack and emotional heft, you’ll be almost to see “Guardians Vol. 2” three, four maybe even five times. You’ve got to get out and see it. Obviously.

Rating: 4/5