Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn, Dan Abnett
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillian
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure
As a teenager, I bought a subscription to X-Men. Marvel quickly became my favorite comic series and I expanded my collection. So why didn’t I know about Guardians of the Galaxy? Everybody loves a band of misfits. And bickering, murderous sisters? Bonus. I loved the first movie and had high expectations for the second, from the writing to the music (yes, I made mix tapes). With hysterical one-liners to moments that made me blink back the tears, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn’t let me down.
Violence/Scary Images: The movie opens with a battle between the Guardians and the monster seen on the trailer. But it’s the Guardians and they are, once again, saving the galaxy. While there is no blood, there’s green goo. Rocket uses all sorts of booby traps and devices to shock and maim Yondu’s crew (interesting CGI work showing their skeletal structure). There are multiple spaceship battles and Yondu’s arrow impressively takes out even more than the first film. Nebula and Gamora are thrown together in the film and try to kill each other with both guns and fists. There is a cave filled with bones, the killer quite unrepentant. The body count for the film is huge.
Language/Crude Humor: S***, A**, H***, P*** and D*** are sprinkled throughout the film. God’s name is used in vain four times. And I’ll admit, I laughed when Baby Groot said, “I am Groot,” and Rocket translated: “We are freakin’ Guardians of the Galaxy—only he didn’t say ‘freakin.’”
Spiritual Content: Peter asks Ego whether he’s a god and Ego replies, “Small ‘g.’” Ego explains how he can create physical matter from nothing, including planets and his human self, right down to the first sentence in the next section.
Sexual Content: There’s an awkward, yet hilarious, exchange between Drax and Ego in regards to the latter’s male anatomy. Anyone who can imagine being in a room with their parents discussing body parts with friends will feel Peter’s cringe. A character eventually reveals just how many species he’s mated with. Yondu is shown zipping up his pants at a robot brothel. And the knife’s edge tension between Peter and Gamora is still there, even when they dance. Drax takes the cake with his reference to the way his deceased, hideous wife engorged his nether-regions.
Drug/Alcohol References: Yondu’s crew is shown drinking what is assumed to be alcohol and pouring their booze on top of Baby Groot. Those beasts!
Other Negative Content: In a movie loaded with fights, mutinies, Drax and Rocket, there are several references to body functions, sensitive body parts, poop, and one-line zingers.
Positive Content: Above all, the loners cling to each other because they care for one another. Guarding the galaxy just pays the bills and settles old scores. Nebula isn’t as horrific as you’d think. She has a valid reason for the poison that flows through her circuits. Yondu has his secrets too. And in the end, it’s family that matters—whatever shape and form they come in.
The last we left the Guardians of the Galaxy, they were sporting a new ship, after saving, well, the galaxy. The little-known characters punched new life and comedy into the Marvel line-up and guaranteed themselves at least one sequel. Fast forward three years and this follow-up brings back the entire crew, different adventures, and new tunes, courtesy of Peter Quill’s birthday present from his late mom.
From the get-go, the action punches you in the face. They swing from one fight to another, picking up Gamora’s murderous sister. Just because they are siblings doesn’t necessarily mean that they are family. “We’re family,” Drax says. “We leave no one behind.” And that’s the way the Guardians work.
I identify with the strange concept of creating your own family. Just because someone is related by blood doesn’t mean that they have a part in your life. And there are friends who are closer than family, for me. It’s a hodgepodge that works its way through misunderstandings with love and forgiveness.
All of the actors really nailed their characters this go around. Chris Pratt had to really reach in for some emotional content, and it was truly believable. While I wasn’t much of a Yondu fan in the first film, Michael Rooker completely changed my mind on the blue-skinned Ravenger. The dark horse for me? Karen Gillian. As Nebula, she is cold and methodical, thinking of nothing other than killing her father and sister. But even in her calculated cyborg voice, her backstory reveal is truly powerful.
I’m outspoken against CGI carrying a film, leaving little plot. Happy to report that this was not the case for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In fact, the visual effects only made the film better with sweeping views on a lush planet to Rocket’s facial expressions. Same goes for costuming. There are some scenes from the 80’s and Kurt Russell’s feathered hair would make a grown woman from 1980 cry with its perfection.
The soundtrack fell flat for me. I had high hopes when the first movie included David Bowie, The Runaways, and Jackson 5. Cat Stevens and George Harrison don’t make any list of mine for an action movie. Not even Cheap Trick or ELO could fix the damper the slower music had. Kurt Russell pulled a Mike Myers/So I Married an Ax Murderer and slowly sang the lyrics to “Mr. Blue Sky.” I kept wanting to switch the song to something less blah.
Though most of the time I was laughing, there were some poignant moments that hit me in the feels. I loved the ending and Vol. 3 has already been verified by James Gunn himself. Both the story and directing are spot on. The jokes seemed a tad excessive, but somehow Mary Poppins makes it all better. If you avoided Guardians of the Galaxy for crassness and violence, you probably will want to skip Vol. 2. But if you go, PLEASE make sure to stay through the end credits, in particular the second one. Teenagers…
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