This image released by Disney-Marvel shows Zoe Saldana, from left, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, in a scene from, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” (Disney-Marvel via AP)

This image released by Disney-Marvel shows Zoe Saldana, from left, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, in a scene from, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” (Disney-Marvel via AP)

Reeling It In: ‘Guardians’ are back and even better

  • By Chris Jenness
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:25pm
  • News

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2 hours, 16 minutes

I read a lot of movie news, most of it surrounding genre films, and I notice that, as Marvel Studios has gotten more and more successful, their universal acclaim among critics has begun to slip.

It’s inevitable that eventually the films spanning the Marvel Cinematic Universe will degrade in quality, but that’s not what’s happening currently. These films retain a level of quality that is unprecedented when you consider the scope of this over-arching project. I think the reason the critics are starting to turn is that the movies are too popular and whenever too many people like a certain thing, there’s a natural suspicion that arises. “People have no taste, and if these movies are that widely adored, they must be trash.” Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes popular things are just good. “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was insanely popular, and justifiably so.

The Marvel films have retained a remarkable level of quality, and though they are all very similar in tone, have never suffered from poor writing, amateur direction or lack of vision. So when you hear people saying “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” is just OK, don’t listen. I loved it, and think it surpasses the original.

If you missed the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the basic plot is thus (I say basic, but the soapy nature of this series makes for a plot that is anything but): a bunch of interstellar ne’er-do-wells band together to protect the galaxy from a power mad despot. There’s Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, an Earthling abducted from Earth as a child and raised a kind of space pirate. As well we have Rocket, a genetically engineered killer raccoon; Drax, a hulking warrior bent on revenge; and Gamora, a green-skinned assassin and daughter to the most dangerous villain in the universe.

And then there’s Groot. Groot is a towering tree-monster with a limited vocabulary and a big heart. Groot is Rocket’s companion – kind of like Chewbacca if Han Solo were a two-foot-tall furry rodent.

There’re other characters and back-story galore, but the details of that film don’t really impact this film much. When this movie opens, the Guardians are now a team for hire – sort of super problem solvers. When a collective of genetically perfect beings called the Consortium hires the Guardians to protect their society’s power source from a giant energy space beast, they get more than they bargained for.

Things don’t go as well as they might have, and before you know it, the Consortium armada is after our heroes. At the last second, however, Peter and co. are snatched from the jaws of death by a mysterious figure named Ego who just may be the most powerful creature they’ve ever encountered.

Ego is played by Kurt Russell who is having a bit of a career resurgence. His role here is well-written and gives him plenty to do, unlike the pointless Mr. Nobody he plays in the “Fast &Furious” movies.

There are lots of cameos and stars, small and large in these films, from Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper to Sylvester Stallone and, in the strangest bit of major casting in a role that doesn’t require a major star, Vin Diesel as Groot.

In this current film, Groot, who essentially died at the end of the last movie, has regenerated as a baby plant. Dumb as it may sound to have a baby plant monster running around having adventures, baby Groot is undeniably adorable and is a big part of the humor.

Speaking of humor, “Guardians of the Galaxy” distinguished itself from the other Marvel films by playing up the humor along with the sci-fi action. Most of that humor is carried by Pratt, who had recently starred in the beloved comedy “Parks and Rec.” “Vol. 2” is even funnier, spreading the love around to all the characters, especially ex-wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax. Bautista proves that, like the Rock before him, he has the comedic chops to have a long and successful career.

Aside from the humor, the other distinguishing characteristic of these films is the music. The soundtrack is a cavalcade of the best hits of the 1970s and early 80s. The music is even a plot point, as all the songs come from Peter’s vintage walk-man and a tape his mother gave him – his only reminders of a life long gone. “Vol. 2” continues the theme with the song “Brandy” by Looking Glass playing a particularly poignant part.

I’ll fully admit I’m in the tank for these films, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are fun and well-made. “Guardians of the Galaxy” isn’t going to change the world or win any awards, but when you look at the landscape of movies that are simply supposed to be fun, at least it’s smart and amiable and doesn’t stretch plausibility past the breaking point like so many of these others do. It’s appropriate that this film and the last “Fast” movie came out in such rapid succession. These are two opposite ends of the “Fun” spectrum. Dumb and loud or smart and funny. I know what my choice is.

Grade: A

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is rated PG-13 for some rude humor and space violence.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

More in News

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River dipnetting closed; Kasilof to close Sunday

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery is reportedly slow, but fish are being caught

Silver salmon hang in the Seward Boat Harbor during the 2018 Seward Silver Salmon Derby. (Photo courtesy of Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Seward Silver Salmon derby runs Aug. 13-21

Last year’s derby featured 1,800 contestants competing across eight days

Rayna Reynolds tends to her cow at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Animals take the stage at 4-H expo

Contestants were judged on the quality of the animal or showmanship of the handler

Emily Matthews and Andy Kowalczyk pose outside the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
AmeriCorps volunteers aid Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

The 10-month commitment pushed them outside of comfort zones

People gather in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, for Salmonfest, an annual event that raises awareness about salmon-related causes. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
All about the salmon

Fish, love and music return to Ninilchik

Alaska State Veterinarian Dr. Bob Gerlach gives a presentation on Avian Influenza Virus at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to outreach, education amid bird flu outbreak

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is spreading in Alaska

Fencing surrounds the 4th Avenue Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Demolition will begin in August 2022 on the once-opulent downtown Anchorage movie theater designed by the architect of Hollywood’s famed Pantages Theatre. The 4th Avenue Theatre with nearly 1,000 seats opened in 1947, and it withstood the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Efforts fail to save historic Anchorage theater from demolition

Anchorage entrepreneur Austin “Cap” Lathrop opened the 4th Avenue Theatre, with nearly 1,000 seats, on May 31, 1947

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a “white privilege card” instead of a driver’s license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

The top of the novelty card reads: “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion file 
Alaska LNG Project Manager Brad Chastain presents information about the project during a luncheon at the Kenai Chamber Commerce and Visitor Center on July 6.
Local leaders voice support for LNG project

Local municipalities are making their support for the Alaska LNG Project known

Most Read