BY ROGER THOMAS
I have written before that I do not read comic books. I do not have anything against them, I just never got engrossed with that form of literature. With that said, I would point out that comic books, or graphic novels as some people call them, have been the inspiration for many fine films. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of those films. And if you liked the first one, I am pretty sure you are going to like ”Vol.2.” I certainly did.
All the strengths in the first film are back once again. First there is the wit. In the packed theatre I saw the film there was a lot of laughter. The first film, for me, was a surprise. I did not expect it to be as funny as it was. I went in expecting the second film to leave me with a smile on my face, and it certainly did not disappoint.
All the main characters have returned and new ones are added. Kurt Russell, who I used to watch in Disney films when I was growing up, plays one of the new characters. This second film also adds two more strong female characters, Mantis and Nebula, to join Gamora, the lone woman on the crew in the first film. These are just a few new characters in a film that is crowded with a great many actors. This is truly an ensemble piece and each and everyone carries the film at different moments.
Then there are all the visual effects of the film. Some of these are small, like Baby Groot. Some are massive, whole planets, in fact. But from the smallest to the largest, everything looks incredible. There may be a Oscar nomination for all the sights on the screen when 2017 comes to an end.
With all the strengths of the film, there is one that truly stood out to me. The first film had a huge premise. There were all the scenes in the prison and ultimately the heroes have to save a planet. There is some big things in “Vol. 2” as well. However, I was most impressed that the center story of the film is about a relationship. Yes, there is quite a bit of the spectacular in the midst of the discovery. And in the end, some characters will have to be rescued, even at the risk of others. Overall, this sequel is close enough to the original to satisfy the fans but different enough to not be overly repetitive.
As a whole, I liked most of it very much. It is not a perfect film. Sometimes it is almost too busy. Things happen fast and scenes change in the middle of the action. Keeping names straight of characters and planets is also a challenge. But whenever the film might get too complicated, there is almost always a simple scene with Groot. Groot always brought a cheer in the theatre. The simpleness of Groot is the perfect antidote for the chaos.
Is the second film as good or better than the first? That is a hard question to answer. They almost fit like unique parts of a whole. The second film keeps what needed to be kept and adds what transforms the story completely. In the end, if you liked the first one, well, I cannot imagine you will not like this well-crafted sequel, or second volume.
One final note: Do not leave the theatre during the closing credits. This film has five extra scenes during those final moments. So stay seated and enjoy. All of them are fun; one is especially brilliant.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.