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Humor, strong characters drive an entertaining 'Guardians' sequel

The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," serves as a continuation of the adventures of the titular Guardians as they learn more about Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father, whom he hasn’t seen in decades.

The film opens with the Guardians protecting some very valuable batteries and returning them to their owners, a powerful alien race known as the Sovereign.

When the mission is completed, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals the batteries after a miscommunication with the Sovereign.

Some time later, the Sovereign send a huge armada to attack the Guardians and recover the stolen batteries.

After a large space battle, and a clash of egos between Star-Lord and Rocket, the Guardians’ ship crashes on a distant planet, leaving the team with no means of escape.

That is when a white, egg-shaped ship lands, and in it is none other than Star-Lord’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell).

After proving that the parentage is legitimate, Star-Lord, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) agree to visit Ego’s planet.

After spending some time there, the Guardians learn more about their mysterious host, and see that all might not be what it seems. Ego’s reasons for abandoning Star-Lord when he was a kid might be more sinister than anyone could have surmised.

It’s difficult to say if "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is any better than the original, but it can be safely said that this film does a lot more right than it does wrong.

First of all, the writing is very good, especially during the characters’ interactions. As in the original, Star-Lord’s brash immaturity, Gamora’s tough exterior, Drax’s direct naivete, and Rocket’s antagonistic insecurity play off one another beautifully, as most situations and predicaments they go through, good or bad, are usually due to those personalities clashing or just coexisting.

This is most evident in the relationship between Star-Lord and Rocket. It’s touched on more than once in the film that Rocket uses humor at his supposed aggressors’ expense as a defense mechanism, because he’s afraid to let his guard down and let people know what he’s really feeling. Rocket changes for the better as the film progresses.

Another interesting character-driven element is Star-Lord’s relationship with Ego. Star-Lord has always harbored some negative feelings about his father, and understandably so, considering Ego abandoned him. But when they are reunited, Star-Lord forgoes such misgivings due to his lifelong desire for a father. He is very quick to trust him, which he eventually comes to regret.

These moments and many more throughout enforce a strong theme of family relationships. Star-Lord learns that he had a father-figure all along in his former legal guardian, Yondu (Michael Rooker). Rocket learns that he can open up to his fellow Guardians because they are, to each other, a family.

Probably the best part of the movie, is the humor. Every character has really funny lines, and that just serves to reinforce their personalities without hitting you over the head with them.

Having so much time spent on character development is great and definitely to the film’s overall benefit, but it does come at a price. Unfortunately, all this time spent on characters makes the plot itself too fast-paced and a little unfocused.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" has more subplots and characters than mentioned here and the storylines weave in and out of the overarching story.

Another aspect of the film that heightens the experience in basically every way is the soundtrack. There’s a ’60s or ’70s song backing up many scenes in "Vol. 2" and it makes them all much more exciting, and the movie as a whole is much better for it.

Finally, the special effects are mesmerizing, as is customary for a Marvel movie, and despite the fact that the majority of them are rendered in CGI as opposed to practical effects, they still look beautiful and very lifelike. Characters like Rocket, who is completely computer-generated, look so good that it’s easy to forget while watching the movie.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is an exemplary sequel that falls behind the original in terms of its story focus, but actually surpasses it when it comes to character development . This film is definitely carried much further by the dialogue than the story, especially when basically every other line is a joke or witty observation.

Nevertheless, with it’s hilarious comedy, dynamic action, classic soundtrack, themes of family relationships, and impeccably written characters, this is one Marvel Cinematic Universe film that proves itself as a fitting continuation of the Guardians’ story and a worthy addition to the franchise as a whole.

Quinn Zack is a sophomore at Hamburg High School.


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