Marvel hasn't exactly had a fairytale run with its sequels. Barring Captain America: The Winter Soldier
, every Marvel sequel had come in for criticism (although they all did rake in lots of money). Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 thankfully is an exception.
If you liked Volume 1, you're going to adore Volume 2, which pretty much follows the same pattern, but is funnier, crazier and zanier. Using the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Sam Cooke for the background score, director James Gunn also takes you on a ride to a time that is redolent of the 1960s. Maybe Gunn is harping on nostalgia being the denial of the painful present, like Woody Allen did with Midnight In Paris. Maybe, just maybe, Gunn, like Woody, is a misfit in this day and age. And so is his film - but you'd rather have this misfit over a piece of sorry imitation.
So the Guardians are working for Ayesha, the leader of the sovereign race. But things aren't as simple as they look - the Guardians are doing that as part of a bargain. The film shifts seamlessly from there to its main agenda, which is unearthing the parentage of one of the Guardians Peter Quill (a charming Chris Pratt).
The setting of the film is the Milky Way galaxy, which the Guardians are supposed to protect from external and internal threats. There are various portals that open up and shut down at the drop of a hat. Fantasy is sometimes very difficult to portray on screen, primarily because in trying to be far-removed from reality, the story eventually becomes devoid of all sense and logic. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 however nails that down. It finds a middle ground between the unbelievable and the real, and does so competently.
Word has it that the characters in the Guardian Of The Galaxy universe are in fact rejects from other Marvel universes. That does explain a lot, though, doesn't it? Actors such as Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper haven't exactly exhibited their ranges in Hollywood so far. They've had more criticism coming their way than appreciation, and it's fair to say that them fitting in the shoes of the Guardians is a great example of an underdog story.
Chris Pratt betters his Peter Quill act from Volume 1 by a good mile or so. He brings in his usual tomfoolery, but thanks to a great director, is able to channelize it well. Supporting him are Zoe Saldana (as Gamora), Dave Bautista (as Drax) and Bradley Cooper (as Rocket), who imbue the film with some much-needed effervescence. The revelation though is the character of Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Unless you've been living under a rock, you would know full well from the trailers and the buzz they created that Baby Groot's presence was welcomed with open arms by the Marvel fanbase. And he repays their faith. He's adorable, aww-inducing, and definitely the biggest winner from Volume 2.
The soundtrack for the movie deserves special mention. If you've seen Volume 1, you know just how beautifully the film is set against the melodies from a tape titled 'Awesome Mix Vol. 1', something that Peter Quill treasures more than anything. This volume is now set against 'Awesome Mix Vol. 2', and is done immaculately. Music composer Tyler Bates must be hailed for grasping the beats that would fit well in a film moving at a rapid tempo.
You'll probably need a good few days to work out the nuances in cinematography in this film. We've seen Interstellar
and Doctor Strange
transcending dimensions, but this one manages to do that with a tinge of psychedelia, too. Everything looks vibrant, like an artist playing with a new set of acrylic colour pencils. The tints are unapologetically retro, and you'll probably look at the film as a hybrid of Battlestar Galactica and an Indiana Jones film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a classic example of how well a film works if it is left to breathe within its comfort zone (read: genre). Embellishments are necessary for making cinema, but they're not an absolute must, as Volume 2 shows.
However, the film does end in a blaze, with Marvel playing to the gallery like an accomplished musician who after dishing out his latest compositions ultimately relies on his oldest to bring about the standing ovation. Go savour this in jaw-dropping 3D, and hold close to you the golden rule of any Marvel film - it's not over till it's officially over.