Director James Gunn impressively utilizes both the giant screen IMAX format and 3D only in specific strategically selected scenes for maximum impact and visual entertainment in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” greatly enhancing a film that is already loaded with fun and dazzling effects.
Although the entire movie is presented on the larger IMAX screen, the majority of it is cropped in the traditional widescreen dimension of most mainstream IMAX movies. But perhaps 10 times or so, the film frame balloons out to fill the entire vertical height of the screen as well for a couple minutes or so. The result is a subliminal increased impact during action sequences as well as some tender moments in close-ups of the characters.
Similarly, the 3D is gratefully palpable throughout, but, more-so than most directors, Gunn has some fun with the technology, creating moments specifically designed to utilize the impact of 3D, such as when the point of Yondu’s whistle-controlled arrow comes flying directly at the audience, seemingly popping out of the screen.
The new, adorable Baby Groot character (the offspring of the tree creature is nicknamed Twig – once again voiced by Vin Diesel) gets the most benefit from 3D, particularly as he dances hilariously and chases a dragonfly during the opening title sequence as the rest of the guardians are chaotically battling a monster behind him.
And the opening scene that immediately follows the titles offers a very eye-catching use of 3D as the camera swoops in from afar on a Mustang cruising along a Missouri road in 1980 to reveal it is being driven by a surprisingly youthful-looking Kurt Russell who has the radio blaring the song “Brandy” by Looking Glass (a slightly odd choice since that song was on the charts in 1972).
Although “GG2” cannot re-create the surprising fresh charm of the original, it continues the fun and nostalgic music of its predecessor and introduces several enticing new characters: Russell as Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt’s) cosmic father Ego; Pom Klementieff as Ego’s assistant Mantis with antenna that pick up on emotions of others; Chris Sullivan as the evil self-named villain Taserface (a name that is subject to much ridicule); and even Sylvester Stallone in a couple of brief cameos. David Hasselhoff also gets an over-the-top cameo, and Ving Rhames and Michelle Yeoh show up in one of about four sequences sprinkled throughout the credits.
The film is loaded with more laugh-out-loud dialogue by Quill, Rocket (the wise-cracking raccoon-looking character voiced by Bradley Cooper who gets called even more laugh-inducing derogatory names), and the once again surprisingly humorous hulking Drax (Dave Bautista). The “does anyone have any tape?” interlude in the midst of the climactic battle near the end is brilliantly hilarious.
But, interestingly, this time around each character has scenes depicting them being touchingly introspective at times. And the softer touch extends to many of the villains of the original film as well, most of whom come around to be heroes and part of the team, including Nebula (Karen Gillan), the part-robotic sister of Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
The Awesome Mix Volume 2 cassette tape does not match the original which had the stand-out “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Suede (1974), and there are a couple of near miss good-fits like Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” (shoulda gone with ELO’s higher energy “Do Ya” that was used in the trailer – see above), Cheap Trick’s Surrender,” Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” but it does have the timeless “Brandy,” Sweet’s pumping “On the Run,” and the surprise appearance of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.”
You owe it to yourself to get the maximum impact and visual wonder out of the first and probably most enjoyable film of the summer by seeing it in IMAX 3D.
— By Scott Hettrick