Guardians of Galaxy Vol 2 movie director: James Gunn
Guardians of Galaxy Vol 2 movie cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker
Guardians of Galaxy Vol 2 movie rating: 3.5
“THERE are two kinds of people,” Drax (Dave Bautista) tells Quill (Chris Pratt) early on in the film. “Those who dance and those who don’t.”
But despite all the boogeying and the songs — heard over Sony Walkman, till the film throws in Zune (Microsoft’s unsuccessful attempt at taking on iPod) — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has space for mostly one kind of people: the family types. Leaning towards Fast and Furious’s devoted family obsession, the questions of fatherhood and childhood, sisterhood and motherhood, and wife-hood and girlfriend-hood, drive much of the narrative in this sequel to the 2014 Marvel hit. While that weighs down some of the zaniness of the first film’s crazy bunch of misfits, it does allow director and writer James Gunn to take many welcome breaks from his planet-destroying binge.
Of the binge, and of the planets, there are plenty — if you consider weirdly shaped and fluorescently lit outgrowths, which differ from one another in only the outrageously costumed people who inhabit them, as planets. But, at another level, one has to admire Guardians of the Galaxy’s loyalty to its misfits in making their world, or worlds, as chaotic as them. None of the steel-and-grey spartan-ness for them, even as they wield technical wizardry of no less calibre than any other space film. At one point, before he dons his T-shirt, Quill smells it. Yes, bathing can seem unnecessary when saving the universe.
It were these small, irreverent details, plus Bradley Cooper’s scene-stealer Raccoon, that warmed audiences and many critics to Guardians of the Galaxy. In Vol. 2, Cooper remains as cool, including with the running joke of different characters calling him everything from Trash Panda and monkey to fox and puppy. However, as it does more of what it did in the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t seem new, even if it is often more funny.
Kurt Russell, as the father Quill has long been looking for, adds considerable excitement to the proceedings. A Celestial, or god-like (“small g”, he notes) being, he embodies a planet, but more importantly he embodies his name: Ego. Grey-haired and crinkly-eyed, he reveals much as he tells Quill and the others his life story through set-pieces hung inside egg-like displays (including how he met and impregnated Quill’s mother). But also, crucially, seems to hide a lot.
Zoe Saldana continues to smoulder and to be as hard to read, landing on her feet despite her forced encounters with warring sibling Nebula (Karen Gillan) in the film. Pratt is the life of Guardians, and with this film more than ever centred around him, looks like he can take on the extra load. Bautista is just brilliant, particularly in his growing affinity to Ego’s sidekick, the slender Mantis, who can read feelings, while Diesel as Baby Groot with its large, red, watery eyes literally grows on you.
And then there is the standout scene of the film, starring Yondu (Rooker) fighting his way through a spaceship of mutineers with the help of a whistle and his arrow. Heroes come from unlikely places, and he is one of them.
Still, as Sylvester Stallone makes a cameo appearance, and as does Michelle Yeoh, it is clear Guardians of the Galaxy is set to become a larger, louder, more ambitious and more kaleidoscopic venture, making the leap from the bottom of the Marvel heap to among its heavenly bodies.
But how many more stars can the galaxy take? That is the question.