Thirty-four years ago on Planet Earth, the mother of Star Lord (Chris Pratt) had met his father (Kurt Russell) who funnily enough was a man from outer space, and not only planted a seed in the ground of North America, but in the woman he loved as well. However, he had to leave and Star Lord, alias Peter Quill, never got to know him, so after being abducted by the Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his motley crew who taught him how to survive the trials of being in the wider galaxy, he has always wondered why his father never reached out to him, especially after his mother passed away. At the moment, he and his own band of ne'erdowells the Guardians are trying to secure some batteries for Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and her technologically advanced race…
That will have consequences when one of the Guardians, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals some of those self-same batteries and winds up with a whole army after his team, but that was a mere prologue for the follow-up to one of the most surprisingly successful of the Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy. It had been anticipated that the original would fare well enough as a second string entry into their manufactured universe of characters, not all of which were connected anyway thanks to the rights to various of them divided up among different companies, but to no-one's expectations the 2014 effort became not only one of the biggest Marvel movies, but one of the biggest movies of its decade.
This did almost comparable business, though many who had loved what came before were lukewarm on what writer and director James Gunn had concocted for the sequel thanks, it would appear, to lightning not often striking twice. Maybe the novelty had worn off, maybe there's only so much you can do with a space opera, but Vol. 2 did not have the freshness that so won over the global audience, even though it was more or less the same formula of laughs, action and serious emotional bits all mashed up together in a nineteen-seventies, pre-Star Wars psychedelic sci-fi context. It certainly looked as colourful as before, a candy-hued kaleidoscope patterned across the screen, but again there was the over-reliance on explosions.
Not to mention the over-reliance on scenes featuring loads of peripheral characters getting massacred, but it was OK as we had not really got to know them too well. That said, in this one Gunn opted to explore the relationships between the characters who did get a few lines, more in some cases, and he concluded the word dysfunctional was the order of the day, after Tolstoy's well-worn phrase "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". The Guardians, if you had not noticed in spite of the movies making it as clear as day, were like their own brood, they may have been friends brought together through circumstance but their strong connections were highly familial, if only they could admit they (gulp) loved one another they might make life easier for themselves as a unit of pals, never mind adventurers.
Yes, it was another multi-million-dollar franchise obsessed with family ties between non-related by blood characters for Vin Diesel to be involved with after his Fast and Furious efforts (Diesel was back voicing Baby Groot, the little tree, only with a squeaky voice as befitting his tender years). It seemed more apt that Russell should be in a Marvel movie than, say, a Star Wars movie (the same went for Sylvester Stallone who also showed up), and his presence as Star Lord's dad underlined those themes once again, but then so did the bonds between warring sisters Gomora (Zoë Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), or even the Ravagers who fall out with Yondu. Aside from that, there was not a lot of, er, space for anything else, as Gunn deemed those themes sufficient to carry the movie as he elucidated on them to an overly expansive degree, though fortunately his sense of humour was employed in the right places, especially with Dave Bautista as Drax who won many of the best lines, most obviously in his interactions with new Guardian, the empath Mantis (endearingly played by Pom Klementieff). If there was a feeling of this being hammered into the ground, nevertheless the Guardians were among Marvel's better personalities and it was pleasing to be around them, with all their flaws. Music by Tyler Bates (including a theme song rapped by David Hasselhoff).