Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

“Kill Switch” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.  

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” provides all of the action and special effects spectacle promised in the trailer. It also refuses to settle to be just another superhero movie. Along with the action comes a much deeper theme of family, and the importance of those bonds. If that’s too much to handle, then also know that it comes with a huge heaping dose of some of the most hysterically funny moments I’ve seen on screen in a long time. Seriously, most comedies out there wish they were this funny.

The movie kicks off with a perfect mix of action and comedy to set the tone. Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) dances around to a selection off of Peter Quill/Starlord’s (Chris Pratt) “Awesome Mix Vol. 2”—an audio cassette tape near and dear to Peter because it’s his only connection to his home planet of Earth and a reminder of his deceased mother. While Groot gets his groove on, Starlord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) fight off a very thick skinned inter-dimensional alien who wants to steal some precious batteries from a race who call themselves the Sovereign.

The Sovereign are gold-colored and regard themselves as perfectly evolved beings. However, for all of their perfect evolution, they’re remarkably thin-skinned. As Peter explains when they go to collect their reward for successfully defending the batteries, the group needs to watch what they say because the Sovereign are easily offended, and the punishment for offense is death. So essentially, they’re the modern-day, spoiled rotten, self-entitled, narcissistic, SJW college students of the galaxy. It doesn’t take a screenwriter to guess how things go with them.

After a narrow escape from the Sovereign drone ships, which they operate from what looks like a giant video game arcade, the Guardians crash land on a planet. It’s here where they meet up with celestial being Ego (Kurt Russell), who reveals himself to be Peter’s father. Ego and his sweet and tender sidekick Mantis (Pom Klementieff) take Peter, Gamora, and Drax off to Ego’s home world, while Rocket and Groot stay behind to guard Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), who is their prisoner as a reward for helping the Sovereign—before things went sideways with them. It’s not long until Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of Ravagers tracks them down and take Rocket and Groot prisoner. But not all is well amongst the Ravager ranks, and a struggle for leadership ensues.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” certainly knows how to have a good time, but the movie is given its foundation by developing its characters. Peter has long wondered about his father. He talks about how he used to tell the other kids that David Hasselhoff was his dad, and laments that he didn’t have a dad to play catch with growing up. The hatred between Gamora and Nebula is unpacked, and a dark past history of the cruelty of Thanos is revealed. This is not a simple love/hate relationship. There’s nuance to it—unexpected shades of grey that really connect the characters and make their motivations resonate in a profound way. Rocket even learns the meaning of true friendship, and in a revealing scene with Yondu, gets told the blunt, honest truth about why he acts the way he does when people get close.

Then there’s Drax. What can I say about this character except that I absolutely love him. I thought he was great in the original 2014 “Guardians” movie, but he really shines here to the point where, over the course of this movie, he became my favorite character. I perked up every time he was on screen, and Bautista never failed to deliver with a perfectly timed line or a crazy action stunt. There’s something to be said for his brutal, in your face honesty. It’s incredibly refreshing and energizes the movie with some of its biggest laughs. He is also an extremely positive character with a gung ho attitude. He’s almost child-like in his approach to the world: completely fearless, and he finds the joy in everything he does. I have to admire someone who emerges from the innards of an alien with a big smile on his face, saying, “That was awesome.”

Piggybacking off of that moment, the same can be said for watching “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” I emerged from it with a big smile on my face, saying “That was awesome.” It’s an added bonus that I wasn’t covered in green goo. Buy it on Amazon: Guardians Of The Galaxy [Blu-ray].

More New Releases: “Kill Switch,” about a physicist’s journey to save humanity after an experiment to achieve unlimited energy goes wrong, starring Dan Stevens and Bérénice Marlohe; “Society,” Steel Book release of the campy 1989 horror movie about a Beverly Hills teen (Billy Warlock) who learns how much the upper class really aren’t like everyone else; “Hercules” and “The Adventures of Hercules II,” mid-1980s low budget movies form Golan-Globus Productions/Cannon Films, suitable for Lou Ferrigno fans who like to see the actor get physical and flex his muscles, but without much to offer to anyone else.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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