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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

I can imagine the artists at computer graphics studios that do work on Hollywood movies get a lot of feedback on their work.

"I need that to look more gritty."

"Can we tone down the color a little? We need it to look old and dirty."

"This is great, I but could we make it about 15% more awesome? Also, I'm going to need the entire thing to happen in slow motion." (That's what I imagine all of Zach Snyder's feedback is like.)

And then, one day, a studio gets feedback like this: "Can we make things more rainbow colored? We need a lot more magenta and neon blue. Basically, we need this whole thing to look like Skittles commercial in outer space."

That must be the direction given to the artists working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, because it looks a lot like a Skittles commercial in outer space. And I mean that in a good way.

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the first installment of Guardians, and almost everything I liked about it is back in the second installment. Since the team is already together, it can jump right into its best aspect: the squabbling team of wisecracking protagonists, who disagree about everything and somehow manage to work together anyway. The movie is at its best when it has the entire team in place and lets them play off one another. The pace drooped for me a bit in the middle portion when circumstances splinter the team in to separate narrative arcs. But that's a minor pacing quibble; for the most part things moved along snappily.

One thing this volume improves over its predecessor is doing away with the pretty generic villain and his faceless horde of minions in favor of opponents with a little more personality. (I'm looking at you, Taser-face.) Like most films about a ragtag group of heroes, there is a theme about lonely people (and cyborgs and trees and raccoons and whatever Drax is) finding a surrogate family. Unfortunately, the script gets a little clumsy with making this point a few times, and comes out and says things that might be better handled more subtly, as they were in Vol. 1.

It's good to see Chris Pratt back in an ensemble, where he can wisecrack and pout and goof off, rather than burdening him with a lot of generic tough-guy stuff as Jurassic World does. And while I know that all of Dave Bautista's lines are basically variations of a single joke, for whatever reason, it made me laugh almost every time he spoke. Maybe he's a secret comic genius. Maybe I'm just a sucker for that one joke. Either way, I enjoyed Drax immensely in this film.

I had a great time watching this, and I'm glad Marvel still has room in its stable for something with a distinct personality.

And, unsurprisingly to any who saw the trailer, Baby Groot is in fact too adorable to kill.


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