“Are we really saving the galaxy again?” – Rocket
It strikes me that I kicked off the original Guardians of the Galaxy review with a quote from Rocket. Not a hard choice in one way because he has so many great lines – but then in this sequel – ALL of the cast have great lines what we geeks will be quoting for years to come.
But seeing that I’m quoting at the moment – let me throw another one in the mix – from the opening of that same review, three years ago…..
“Given the disproportionate amount of my lifespan that I devote to Marvel & DC Comics and the films that spring out of them, it’s rare that a comic book based movie is released that I have no background on the characters and I’m going in to the film blind. The last time this happened with a superhero film was Spawn – and that was back in 1997.
But, such was the case with Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve never read the title, never seen any of the characters. In fact, when the film was announced, it was literally a reaction of “the who of the what”?...”
It’s odd, but having enjoyed the first Guardians as much as I did (and I said at the time that it was the most fun I’d had watching a sci-fi film since Star Wars in 1977) – I actually STILL haven’t read ANY Guardians comicbooks . Two reasons – there still hasn’t been a “from the beginning” compilation so I have no freakin’ idea where to start – and the second, which I can’t believe I’m writing, is that I wonder if the comics are as awesome and funny and engaging as the films. Hopefully, someone out there can help me out with an opinion or advice?
As the film starts, the Guardians are ready for battle – and as usual, they can’t really agree on anything. Not even their strategy for taking on a monster from another dimension. But their bickering is totally in character – and makes for as great an opening for the sequel as seeing Peter Quill dancing around the ruins was for the first film. Without lengthy exposition or explanation, even those new to the series know exactly everything that they need to know about each of the characters as they fight, each in his own way while Groot (still a baby from the end of the last movie) is more the focal point – all to the cheery Electric Light Orchestra classic Mister Blue Sky. It’s the perfect opening for what’s to follow.
There’s always so much more to enjoy in a Guardians movie than the film itself – and in this case, it’s the Awesome Mix soundtracks – and Vol 2 doesn’t disappoint and has literally been playing on a loop for a week now.
Now, where the first film obviously was mainly concerned with the forming of the group of misfits who would become the Guardians of the Galaxy, this one consolidated what has gone before and explores the origins of the ringleader Peter Quinn, the self titled Star-Lord. He was abducted from Earth on the night his mother died in hospital and his father remains a mystery. Here, we explore that mystery and find that his father is an extraterrestrial living planet named Ego who gave himself human form.
But there’s also the matter that (unsurprisingly) Rocket has managed to get them into trouble and as ever – they’re being pursued.
Not only that – but the Ravager leader Yondu who initially kidnapped Quill has his own set of problems. As does the returning Nebula, daughter of Thanos. It’s no secret from either the trailer or the teaser posters that the Guardians expand their ranks in this outing.
Although I saw this film a week ago, I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as I can, especially as the rest of the world, including the USA aren’t getting the movie until this weekend. So, as subtly as I can, let’s see what the high points are.
The dialogue just sparks off the screen. Witty, crude, clever and memorable. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a film that will be quoted for years to come.
The performances are truly great. All cast members are likeable, much as I enjoy Dwayne Johnson’s films, as an ex-wrestler turned to film star, Dave Bautista really comes into his own in this sequel. He dominates his scenes. As for the CGI characters – Groot and Rocket will make you instantly forget you are watching a special effect. You will completely buy into their characters.
The plot ties up any threads remaining from Guardians, but doesn’t play into any future crossover – as far as I’m aware. Yes, the Guardians WILL be a part of the huge mega crossover Infinity Wars next year – but that isn’t coming into play yet. Guardians 3, however IS broadly indicated from one of the five – yes FIVE – credit stings. Make sure you do NOT leave your seat until you’re looking at a blank screen.
A cameo from David Hasselhoff? AWESOME!!!!
Sylvester Stallone finally joins the Marvel universe.
Stan Lee’s cameo. The best one yet. For more details of this – go to the spoiler zone for a mild spoiler and an explanation.
And a line that makes me laugh even now, a week later…. “Hey, I’m Mary Poppins, y’all”
There are no drawbacks to the film. I found it to be a sheer, fast moving, epic delight from the opening frame to the last. It doesn’t sag, it’s not bloated and it never lets up. A long standing complaint of mine is that the 3D is hardly ever effective and is more of a distraction than an enhancement. Not the case here. It works. Beautifully.
My feeling at the moment is that the summer blockbuster season has peaked early this year.
And now – to the Spoiler Zone if you dare. Nothing that affects the plot, I promise. But if you’d rather not have the details of Stan Lee’s cameo and the reasoning behind it before seeing the film, please stop reading now and come back when you’ve seen it.
The Spoiler Zone
Stan Lee’s cameo is just awesome and plays into an intriguing notion that is endorsed by Guardians director James Gunn. As we’ve seen, Stan – the God of comic book superheroes, turns up in all the Marvel Studios films as well as several of the others from other studios. It’s been like a running in-joke, seeing as he created the superheroes in those movies. Here, we see him in a space suit chatting to some of the Watchers. The Watchers are a race of beings who literally watch the universe unfolding. We first saw one of these weird looking tall, bald aliens in The Fantastic Four comic in 1966 when Galactus and the Silver Surfer made their debut.
The Watcher showed up because a historical even of galactic importance was about to happen (i.e. Galactus destroying the Earth with his hunger) and he’s been showing up semi regularly ever since – just before a major event. The implication in this cameo is that Stan Lee IS a Watcher and turns up before or during a cataclysmic event which accounts for his being right in the thick of things every time.
Pretty appropriate, huh?
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