Movie Review: Guardians Vol. 2 Cranks Up the Volume.

Movie Review: Guardians Vol. 2 Cranks Up the Volume.
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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The verdict about the opening to this year’s summer blockbuster season, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, only ever depended on one thing: Is it as much fun as the first one?

I’m happy to report that yes, the Guardians are just as much fun as they’ve been so far. Their latest movie is grand, emotionally satisfying, hilarious, and mostly enjoyable. It’s also a flawed movie from its size (and lofty expectations after the original.) Though like most films this scale, hanging out with this cast is more than enough to enjoy the ride.

While having seen the first movie is helpful in understanding the tone and personality of these quirky galactic heroes, it’s also not mandatory. Vol. 2 is clearly a separate adventure, and newcomers can follow easily. More importantly, because it’s unique, you don’t need to be an expert on the dozen-plus other Marvel superhero epics as a pre-requisite to see Guardians.

This second adventure finds guardian Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) and his friends escaping a fleet of aliens, only to accidentally find Quill’s estranged father (Kurt Russell.) As they they spread across the cosmos to fix their ship and reunite the team, they discover some pretty jaw-dropping secrets about each of their pasts.

Not much story action happens for the first half, though it does come to a pleasing finale. The twists that start coming about an hour in prove there’s still a couple diabolical surprises to elevate this superhero series.

What makes the Guardians of the Galaxy series so different and so exciting is the depth and likability of its stars. The characterizations are so creative and engaging that audiences are fine just watching the antics. It’s intoxicating to feel like you’re in the band of intergalactic misfits, and it’s fun to be in on the action.

And the fun ingredients are in a bountiful supply. Like the first, it packs colourful planets and worlds, and a killer soundtrack. Writer/Director James Gunn smartly knows he can’t cleverly surprise the audience with his refreshing humour like he did with the original in summer 2014. But there’s no lack of his blunt, warm comedic timing in the script.

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures.

The characters are given so much interesting and honest dialogue to play with it’s hard to complain about the amount. But perhaps the movie’s greatest weakness is its excess. It’s almost two and a half hours long, and it’s a slow first act in the story.

There are definitely symptoms of franchise fatigue at first, though nothing is so potent it ruins the character-driven pinball machine. With all showbiz sequels there’s a pressure to go bigger and better – so forgive the producers insistence on it here. (A weird cameo from Sylvester Stallone and Howard the Duck are the biggest head-scratchers.)

Curious superfans wondering about Stan Lee and Marvel’s infamous credits scenes will easily spot and see them. Stan’s is very obvious about 90 minutes in, and there are five (yes, FIVE) end credits scenes scattered throughout. The last one’s nothing special, but they are worth staying until the end to see – and look for the hidden Groots in the scrolling text.

Parents should also be wary unlike some Marvel movies, this one is both edgy and intense that don’t reflect the cuddly Disney brand. Coarse language, crystal clear sexual humour and multiple impaled bad guys make this definitely too much for children. Nothing is gross or scary, but use your judgments before bringing your kids under 12.

Don’t let some of the small hiccups keep you from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As most blockbusters, this one’s top notch. It’s dramatically smart and will keep a smile on the audience’s face from beginning to end. It’s all eye-popping and encompassing, but maybe that’s the whole point.

Blasphemous as it sounds, this one may be worth paying the extra cash to see in 3D or in IMAX (or both!) If you are planning on attending a 2D show for opening weekend, however, definitely skip the lines and buy your tickets in advance. Crowds will be gigantic for the opening shows.

And why wouldn’t it be? It’s big, loud, and loads of fun. Guardians Vol. 2 is everything that makes the summer blockbuster so great. Best to crank up the volume, relax, and go with the music.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
3 out of 4 stars.

PG, 137 minutes. Action Fantasy Comedy.
Written and Directed by James Gunn.
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan and Kurt Russell.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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