Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot are back to save the day. In true Guardians fashion, one of the first scenes opens with the gang fighting a disgusting monster as baby Groot jams to the first song he plays on Peter's Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2. Rocket reveals afterward that he has stolen the very batteries that they were protecting from the monster, and as a result the people who hired them chase the Guardians throughout the movie to get them back. But that's not the main story. The big reveal is when Peter Quill's father Ego (played by Kurt Russell) arrives to bond with his long-lost son and takes them to the planet that he created with his Celestial powers. I won't go too much into the Peter-Ego relationship because (SPOILER), but just know my mind was blown by Ego's character several times.
In line with the father-son theme, Rocket is constantly struggling with the burden of fatherhood - namely making sure that Groot doesn't get them all killed. Wonderful and hilarious interactions ensue. Meanwhile, Yondu, who Ego had hired to take Peter to him after his mother died, has been kicked out of the Ravagers for breaking their code and feels lost until he runs into Rocket. They come to realize that they have more common than they think, and it's an excellent moment for both characters. I didn't expect Yondu of all people to get me so emotional on several occasions, especially because of how crappy he was to Peter in the first movie, but he does. And that whistling arrow is as cool as ever.
Nebula, Gamora's sister, is trying to kill her for revenge for always beating her when their father Thanos would pit them against each other. She gives us another hint at how awful Thanos is and reveals a surprising dynamic between her and Gamora that I hope to see developed more in the future. Drax is still not doing much, like last time, but I did love his interactions with Mantis, an alien who can feel people's feelings by touching them. He's so blunt and she's so innocent and it makes an interesting contrast.
One of my favorite moments in the film is when Gamora mentions how Peter told her that he used to carry a picture of David Hasselhoff and tell other kids that it was his father. Peter complains that he told her that when he was drunk and it's too depressing, but Gamora replies, "I love that story." Ever since the first movie, Peter has had an obvious crush on Gamora and tries to flirt with her, but she shoots him down every time. However, their conversation about Peter's childhood story reveals that if Peter stopped acting so cocky and shared more vulnerably with Gamora, she would probably be far more receptive to his romantic intentions. The moment subtly shows men that being tough and egotistical isn't the way to win women over. (Certainly not this woman, anyway.)
I will say that some of the humor fell flat this time around. The movie takes shots at a few cheap jokes and of course that means that not all of them are going to get a laugh. It's not the end of the world and it doesn't take away from the overall comedy and feel-good vibes, but I have to acknowledge it. Aside from that, the movie had stunning space fight visuals, unexpected emotion that made me tear up at least once, and a fun comedic tone that I enjoyed thoroughly. And I hope to keep enjoying the Guardians for several years to come.
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