Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Release Date: May 05, 2017 
Runtime: 2 hr. 15 min. 
Director: James Gunn 
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker,
Kurt Russell.

We've seen more than our fair share of Marvel movies, the last being the psychedelic and egocentric "Doctor Strange." But if you think of a ragtime team of quirky misfits, only one series easily rises to the top. Kicking off the first of three MCU outings to release this year, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is, unsurprisingly, another surefire hit. Banding together Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Baby Groot, it's a welcome reunion of unrestrained comedy and adventure. Known ubiquitously as the 'Guardians,' we find our heroes tasked by a group called the 'Sovereign' to protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional creature. <Cue music> Like its predecessor, the film thrives on classic oldies, some intentionally less familiar than others. But this time around, Gunn opts for slower ballads, in turn missing a level of energy that emboldened the first one. Fortunately for us, the humor remains intact, utilizing each character to the best of their strengths, or in some cases, their weaknesses. Despite a cynical raccoon (aka "trash panda") and newly reborn tree being, the funniest of the bunch is none other than Drax the Destroyer. David Bautista is an irrepressible riot, becoming the bedrock that coincidentally unifies the characters. As relations are ultimately tested and frayed, 'family' becomes the overarching thematic, particularly for our lead hero. Kurt Russell joins the cast as Quill's (Star- Lord) father Ego, a seemingly remorseful yet powerful being. With motives unknown and a strained reconciliation, the film gradually becomes a retrospect of father and son. As a result, it's a slower build-up than before, spotlighting again the problem with most Marvel flicks: uninteresting villains. But Gunn makes up for it with spectacular visual effects, expanding the unexplored universe with colorful imagination. The aging effect, notably, is probably the best we've seen yet, and a stellar indication of just how far we've come in technology. While "Vol. 2" may not be the superior sequel that we hoped for, it definitely substantiates it's not just a one hit wonder. Note to the wise: hang tight until the very end to be treated by not 1, not 2 but 5 end credit scenes. (Thanks James Gunn.)

Rating: 4 stars

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