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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ review: A whole lot of fun

Film critic Oggs Cruz gives his two cents on the highly-anticipated ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel

‘GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.’ Main character Peter Quill meets his father in the movie’s sequel. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The second film of the Guardians of the Galaxy series – and the stock middle portion of the still evolving cinematic adaptation of the Marvel multiverse – James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has all the unavoidable liabilities of a studio-financed superhero franchise flick.

Clever but lacks finality

STAR LORD AND DRAX. Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista star in Marvel’s ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.’ Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Vol. 2 unsurprisingly lacks finality.

While there exists an intriguing central plot, it feels like it is only there to lay down the pieces for future installments. Essentially, it is a glossy and explosive episode of a sprawling soap opera that involves super-powered heroes with a decades-long following.

It has cameos and footnotes that hint of impending episodes, arousing theories that may or may not come to fruition. More than a stand-alone film, it also functions as a trailer for films that are still in the pipeline. In a way, Gunn’s film is beleaguered by its dual purpose of telling a singular story and supporting the continuation of a far-reaching franchise. It is as satisfying as an appetizer before the main course. It isn’t a meal in itself.

However, to begrudge Vol. 2 for its indistinct place within the Hollywood marketing machine is a disservice to its numerous merits. The film is wildly entertaining without being too reliant on the humdrum staples of the superhero genre. It doesn’t impress solely because of its seamless spectacle. It is also very clever in the way that it makes its wit and humor supplant the special effects as the film’s primary display.

A story of stunted superheroes

Vol. 2 is set in the outer fringes of the universe, where the pop culture is stuck in the early ’80s, the same era when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was spirited away from Earth by the blue-skinned space thief Yondu (Michael Rooker).

The characters, all members of the titular gang-for-hire, are similarly stunted.

Peter, who has just discovered that his absentee dad (Kurt Russell) is actually a god-like figure, is still coming to terms with his lack of a real father figure in his life. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is in the middle of a violent sibling rivalry with Nebula (Karen Gillan), her murderous sister.

HEROES. From left to right: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and Drax (Dave Bautista) in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.’ Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rocket (Bradley Cooper) still plays the gang’s resident bully, perhaps to veil his lack of self-worth. Drax (Dave Bautista) becomes the subject of the socially awkward advances of empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Groot (Vin Diesel) is literally going through the motions of being a toddler raised by all sorts of confused parents.

ROCKET AND GROOT. In ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2,’ Rocket and Groot are voiced by Bradley Cooper Vin Diesel. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Vol. 2 plays out like an ’80s teen flick, with music and pop culture playing an essential role in its characters’ coming-of-age. The only difference here is that in the process of the characters’ seemingly hopeless path to maturity, they battle space monsters, golden-skinned egotists, and rogue planets.

Real wit

’80S THROWBACK. There are tons of ’80s pop culture references in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.’ Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

There is real wit at work here. The film is brashly inventive despite its being a franchise picture.

Gunn doesn’t just surrender to the basic pleasures of extending the charms of the characters established in the first film. He actually enlarges them, making them less morally predictable, more immature, more troubled, and somewhat less reliable as heroes and more relatable as imperfect individuals. The comedy is integral to the feature. It isn’t tacked on.

Everything just fits, turning Vol. 2 into a film that doesn’t lack in guiltless fun. – Rappler.com

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ ‘Tirad Pass.’ Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.