Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★

After casually observing mostly tepid ratings here on LB, and some downright basement dwelling scores, I kept my expectations in check. I’m not usually a superhero fan, but the original Guardians of the Galaxy became one of my favourite braindead 3D Friday Night go-to’s; and the one we usually show guests interested in seeing a 3D picture ( yeah, I know we should use Gravity or Avatar, but this one’s more fun )

What tickled my fancy about the first installment was how effortlessly director James Gunn blended lightness, mean humor, and storybook pathos with just the right amount of action set pieces; and how he created characters that had burning intent, yet were willing not to take themselves too seriously. Often the latter can torpedo the former, but when done right, it just works so well. Of course, what ties it all together is the seventies-tastic Awesome Mix Vol 1 soundtrack.

So what changed?

Nothing that I could see. In fact, I think Gunn has honed his skill further. I liked that the members of the ensemble are given more balanced screen time, and story arcs, as well as being drawn with a touch more nuance and ambiguity. While Pratt’s Star Lord is still the central locus, I appreciated more time with Bautista’s lovably oafish Drax’s., and seeing the other side of Karen Gillan’s Nebula. I have a highly allergic reaction to overlong chase or action scenes, and I had no red flags fly. Once again Gunn achieved the perfect balance.

And then there is the soundtrack again. I was completely at home with it; well, because these are the tunes I grew up with on AM radio back in the day. It did strike me, though, that while the Millennials and Gen Alphabeters may have overheard classics like Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling or The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ emanating from grandad’s gramophone at one point in their lives, I think it’s less likely that the old coot would be listening to Looking Glass’ ‘Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)’ or Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’ ( although Guitar Hero players of any age would have cut their axe wielding teeth on Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’.)

If I have any criticism of the film, it would be the de-aging of Kurt Russell. That kinda creeped me out. Rather like digital plastic surgery gone bad.

I love how these films are training the young movie going audience to sit through credits, and rewarding them for doing so. I grinned ear to ear at this installment’s prize.

Bring on the 3rd!

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