WARNING! SPOILERS WITHIN! WARNING!
I had no idea who the Guardians Of The Galaxy were until I saw them on Marvel’s toon, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012). I know everyone loved the first movie, but when I finally saw it on cable I’ll be honest I wasn’t all that taken with it. I enjoyed it enough for that one time watch, but it certainly wasn’t a Marvel adaptation I could watch again. Now, when I first saw the trailer to the sequel that was different. This “Vol. 2” actually looked better, but you can never really tell the quality of a movie by the trailer, at least not all the time. I’m happy to report that, this time anyway, the movie lived up to the trailer and the sequel was indeed a lot better! Even on a pure, visual level too!
The movie’s main villain is Ego, The Living Planet as played in human form by Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell. After Ego formed himself a planet around his massive Celestial brain he wanted to see if there were others like himself in the Universe. This is where Russell comes in. He created a humanoid form and journeyed out into the vastness, but every life form he found disappointed him. There was nothing else like him in creation, so he came up with the master plan to create others like him, but this meant transforming the worlds he visited into “him” basically, and he started this process by planting a small piece of him on all these worlds. Biological time bombs if you will, but he came to the conclusion even an entity as “god-like” as himself would not have the power to trigger all them, so he decided to jump from world to world, plowing the local female populace in hopes of creating a hybrid Celestial with powers similar to his he could essentially use as a battery. All these children he sired turned out to be less than what he wanted. But that didn’t stop him from bring them to his world, trying them out and discarding their bodies in a cave. This is where Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) comes into the picture!
Ego is his father, and he gave Quill’s mother cancer so he wouldn’t be tempted to keep coming back and visiting her. This kind of contradicts his claim he found all these beings he bumped up against in his lifetime inferior. Quill’s mother apparently knew Ego was alien too. This also ties into the first film because Ego tasked Yondu (Michael Rooker) with fetching Peter so he could ascertain whether this human kid was the “battery” he needed, but Yondu decided to keep him because he was small and could get into places the other Ravagers couldn’t. Once Ego learned a human had faced off with a Kree while successfully wielding an Infinity Stone (you don’t just “handle” an Infinity Stone and live to tell about it unless you’re “special”) he put two and two together and figured this was his human offspring and the one he needed, so he departed his planet and went in search of Quill himself.
When we last saw the Guardians Groot survived and was growing again. In Vol 2 he’s baby Groot (still voiced by Vin Diesel) and he pretty much steals the show. He’s cute, has many hilarious scenes and even at that tiny size can still kick ass if he wants to.
The movie has got one hell of an opening as the Guardians have been employed by this race of gold skinned aliens called the Sovereign to protect these “batteries” from a Lovecraftian monster known as the Abilisk. The opening credits play out on Baby Groot as he dances to the toons blasting from a pair of speakers while his buddies fight the monster in the background, until the speakers get destroyed and the battle becomes front and center. This creature is expertly rendered in CGI and what I learned months prior is that it might have a connection to Director James Gunn’s horror flick, Slither (2006)!
These Sovereign are a catalyst to how Quill and his gang finally meet Ego, with one of five after credits sequence showing the Queen wanting revenge and creating Adam Warlock. Ego’s true nature isn’t revealed until the final act but before then he comes off as a pretty decent entity who just wants to reconnect with his son. It’s the reveal of him having killed Quill’s mother that triggers an extreme, and understandable, reaction from Quill which in turn forces Ego to show his true colors. And as explosive as the movie begin so does it end with the final act being a full on battle between the Guardians and a Living Planet, all of which takes place inside Ego. Speaking of Ego, to show Kurt Russell as a younger Celestial when he knew Peter’s mother (hey, why does an immortal being like this age anyway?) they de-aged Russell via CGI (see below) and I’ll tell ya it looked damn convincing! That’s the second best de-aging I’ve seen in a Marvel movie; Michael Douglas’ younger self in Ant-Man (2015) was the other.
Bad guys from the first flick, Yondu and Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) sister, blur the line until we learn Yondu truly does care about Quill and Nebula’s “evil” is more understandable now. No, she doesn’t bury the hatchet totally with Gamora, but the relationship is on more solid ground than it ever was, and we leave Nebula at a point where she’s determined now to kill her father, Thanos.
Yondu makes an unexpected connection with Rocket (voiced again by Bradley Cooper) which makes the former’s sacrifice at the end doubly heartbreaking, and Drax (Dave Bautista) finds an interesting love interest(?) in Ego’s “flea with a purpose,” Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an empathic insectile alien that can put you asleep with a touch or make you feel any emotion she wants. Drax has some great comedic moments as well!
The main plot and the subplots feel more connected in this sequel and flow really well in and out of each other, making me hope Gunn can do the same with Vol 3.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment releases Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 on August 22 in Blu-ray/DVD combo, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD, solo DVD editions as well as various Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target exclusives!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital—English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With Director James Gunn
- Visionary Intro (1:39) (Optional Play)
- Bonus Round: The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Four-Part Feature.
- In the Director’s Chair with James Gunn (8:36)
- Reunion Tour: The Music of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (7:37)
- Living Planets and Talking Trees: The Visual Effects of Vol. 2 (10:44)
- Showtime: The Cast of Vol. 2 (10:41)
- Music Video (3:35)
- Gag Reel (3:41)
- Deleted Scenes (5:04)
Stick around through the end credits (like you don’t already know that) because you get five after-credits scenes one of which shows Groot having grown into a “teen.” Oh, and Howard The Duck makes another cameo! Not in the after-credits but in the movie itself. He gets as much screen time as he did in the first one, but it’s always nice seeing him again. I suspect he’ll also be back in the third. He better! And I’m all for a Howard remake! Just puttin’ that out there.