Retro hits for current hit

The West Australian
Vin Diesel returns to voice Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Camera IconVin Diesel returns to voice Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Credit: Disney-Marvel Studios

MOVIE

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Guardians: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper)

Director James Gunn

Reviewer Ray Chan

With the enormous success of the first Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) movie, you can’t blame the moviemakers for sticking to the same formula of irascible humour and frenzied action in the much-anticipated sequel.

The film boasts a prodigious chunk of both eye and ear candy, with returning director and co-writer James Gunn once again delving into his box of musical mementos from the 60s, 70s and 80s to serve as the soundtrack.

This combination of well-crafted sequences and retro hits is demonstrated none more spectacularly than in the opening scene, when the team of five quarrelsome heroes take on an octopoid creature intent on attacking the world run by a race called The Sovereign, whom the guardians have been hired to protect, all to the background of ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’.

Despite defeating the alien, the group incurs the wrath of The Sovereign when the opportunist Rocket Raccoon decides to steal the very batteries the alien had aimed to acquire.

Thus on the run again, the Guardians end up on a distant planet, deliberately lured there by celestial being Ego (Kurt Russell), who eventually reveals himself to be the father of Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill.

Meanwhile, the harangued and hapless leader of The Sovereign, Ayesha, played wonderfully by Elizabeth Debicki, employs old Guardians adversary Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of mercenaries to capture our heroes. The dart-wielding buccaneer, who manages to capture Rocket and the sapling-sized baby Groot, is in turn betrayed by one of his lieutenants .

Somewhat predictably, Ego is not the altruistic totem he claims to be, and it takes his pet empath, Mantis, to warn Peter and the team just as Rocket, Yondu, and Groot arrive, having teamed up to escape their prison, resulting in an all-out battle with both Ego and drones from the persistent Sovereign troops.

In between the major confrontations are several episodes which help flesh out the movie further, such as Mantis’ readings of Peter’s affection for Gamora, Drax’s increasing acceptance of the team as a surrogate family to replace the one he lost to the villain Thanos, and Gamora’s conflict in dealing with her estranged sister Nebula.

Indeed, family is a key theme of the storyline, with Peter coming to grips with finally finding his father, only to discover a more patriarchial link with another. The climax results in the sacrifice of one character in a moment sure to bring a tear to even the most jaded eye.

Yet while the new film is clearly more expansive, more beautiful, and conveys a deeper insight into the characters, the level of intentional humour it employs can be jarring for some.

The portrayal of Ayesha, in particular, is so over-the-top that moviegoers could be forgiven for thinking that GOTG2 is more of a comedy than a serious action offering.

The credits are replete with teasers for the next instalment of GOTG, so make sure you stay till the very end. Comic book fans who are well-versed in the history of the Guardians will no doubt be thrilled at the possible inclusion of the original incarnation and the introduction of cosmic entity Adam Warlock.

The obligatory Stan Lee cameo is perhaps the most significant of all his appearances in the various Marvel movies. Cast among a group of beings called The Watchers – whose sole purpose is to watch and record events throughout the universe – Stan references his previous characters, inferring that, perhaps, he has been portraying a Watcher in disguise all this time.

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