Many people — myself included — assumed that “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be Marvel Studios’ first big bomb.
After all, the comic book was never that popular. On top of that, they were using the team’s most offbeat lineup for the movie. Who’s going to buy into a film starring a sarcastic raccoon and a talking tree?
And yet, director James Gunn found the winning formula with a mix of humor, action, special effects and characters that you cared about — even if they were a raccoon and a tree. Oh, and set it all to an infectious classic rock soundtrack. “Guardians of the Galaxy” became a shining jewel in Marvel’s already impressive crown.
Now, Starlord and crew are back with more of the same. And that’s a very, very good thing.
The action starts with the Guardians — Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) — trying to stop a huge monster from stealing batteries owned by the gold-skinned, imperious Sovereigns. They complete the contract but are soon being pursued across the galaxy by the Sovereigns because Rocket has stolen the batteries. Because, you know, Rocket.
The team’s ship crashes on a planet where they are met by the powerful Ego (Kurt Russell) and his assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Ego reveals that he is Peter’s father and takes Peter, Drax and Gamorra to his home planet. Rocket and Groot stay behind to fix the ship and babysit their prisoner, Gamorra’s troublesome sister Nebula (Karen Gillan).
While Peter is trying to connect with his father, the man who actually raised Quill — Yondu (Michael Rooker) — is trying to reconnect with his old buddy in the Ravagers, Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone). Stakar rejects Yondu, and things only get worse for him when his crew decide to mutiny.
Yondu winds up teaming up with Rocket and they race to Ego’s home world so all the players will be in place for the big finale.
“GOTG Vol. 2” is just as charming and witty and visually intriguing as the original. Gunn maintains the right balance of humor and action, delivers some nifty special effects and still finds room for heart and humanity with his very eclectic and not very human cast. Music continues to play a major role in the series and Vol. 2 features another quality and cringe-worthy collection of tunes.
And there’s good news for people who are tired of sitting through seemingly endless closing credits just to get to that brief end-credits scene. Gunn has sprinkled the credits with amusing bits and broken up the scroll with multiple epilogue scenes.
You may be confused by who Stallone was and who all the new people are who show up later, but we’ll get into that in another post.
Guardians remains one of the best franchises in the Marvel Studios stable. Or, as Groot would put it — well, you all know what Groot would say.