Eppler: No sophomore slump for "Guardians"

Eppler: No sophomore slump for "Guardians"

Now that we have "Volume 2," it's safe to say "Guardians of the Galaxy" is my favorite current comic book movie series, at least until "The Incredibles 2" next year.

"Guardians 2" succeeds where "Iron Man 2," "Thor 2" and "Captain America 3" stumbled by not getting too big for its britches and bogged down trying to set up future movies, even though we know the Guardians have a date with the Avengers coming up. Instead of pushing this series forward, writer and director James Gunn drills down into what makes these movies fun: the characters and their relationships.

Most of this story is focused Chris Pratt's Peter Quill learning about his heritage and meeting his dad, the perfectly cast Kurt Russell, who - now that I think about it - is perfectly cast in everything. Heck, even Walt Disney knew that - evidenced by an urban legend that the actor's name were Disney's dying words. No, really, check it out. 

Aside from the witty writing, the first "Guardians" movie was notable for its classic rock soundtrack. It's just as good here. See, Gunn doesn't just pick good songs - he uses them to enhance and accent scenes beautifully. 

Admittedly, "Volume 2" is not as fast, funny and fresh as the first one party because the original was such a come-out-of-nowhere surprise. There is too much monologuing, too much geek placating, and a few slow stretches. But at least we get one of the better villains we've seen so far in these Marvel movies.

In the end, it all comes back to the characters: Pratt has his signature role, Zoe Saldana is all attitude, Dave Bautista's deadpan humor and belly laughs are hilarious, Bradley Cooper's voice work is another reason to have Oscars for these kinds of performances, amd Vin Disel's Baby Groot is the only time that actor will ever be called cute. The MVP in Volume 2, though, is Michael Rooker and Yondu, who just might break your heart.

"Guardians 2" may have sequel problems, but they're the minor kind in what's otherwise a follow-up that was worth the wait.
 

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