Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is the sequel to the massively popular Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy. The first film absolutely blew away audiences, surprising them with a charming and colorful display of action. The original film also had a ton of heart, some great emotional moments, and fantastic set pieces. Does Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 live up to the enormous hype, or suffer from a case of sequelitis?
First and foremost, Guardians 2 is not better than the original. While this is normally the case, there’s been some exceptions (especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). This doesn’t mean it’s a bad film, but it’s important to temper your expectations. Picking up not too far after the original film’s ending, Guardians 2 sees the entire cast back together. We pick up with the Guardians as they execute a defense mission on a planet inhabited by golden people known as the Sovereign. After Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) steals a handful of expensive batteries during the mission, the Sovereign vow to pursue the Guardians and deal them fair consequence.
This small spat serves as a good introduction to the Guardians, and delivers an overtly comedic and silly tone. It’s important to note this, because Guardians 2 is a comedy before anything else. Unlike the first film, the jokes and humor take front stage, often times overshadowing the action. This both works and fails magnificently, giving us a bit of a mixed bag. After an exceptionally great spaceship battle in a quantum asteroid field, the Guardians are approached by Ego (Kurt Russell). Ego reveals himself to be the father of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the leader of the Guardians. Quill has mixed emotions about the sincerity of Ego, and agrees to hear him out.
Explaining any more would be spoiler territory, so I’ll try to remain vague from here on out. As far as narrative is concerned, Guardians 2 is more of a collection of stories rather than one cohesive one. This time around, the Guardians end up separated quite often, occupied with their own respective sub plots. We get some more backstory concerning Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Rocket and Yandu (Michael Rooker) end up spending some time together. Alternatively, Drax (David Bautista) doesn’t get to do much. Both Drax and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are primarily used as comedic relief. New characters like Mantis (Pom Klementieff) get a decent amount of screen time, but the primary focus is on the father-son relationship of Quill and Ego.
The narrative structure lends itself well to quickly hopping from set piece to set piece, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. The film wraps up nicely and delivers a heartfelt ending, but the majority of the narrative is pretty hollow. However, the main issue with Guardians 2 is not the narrative, but the comedy. Guardians 2 has much more comedy than it needs to, and it quickly becomes a distraction rather than an addition. It feels as though every scene ends with a punch line, whether or not it’s appropriate. As the film continues, scenes lose their ability to hold drama or seriousness, as you’re constantly awaiting the joke or nod. It’s not a huge deal when the comedy lands, but unfortunately, a lot of them don’t.
Fans were specifically impressed with the original Guardians soundtrack, thanks to its collection of fantastic 80’s tunes. While Guardians 2 has a pretty decent soundtrack, it doesn’t even come close to the original. However, the original Guardians film used music to punctuate emotional scenes, and then would revisit the same music to recall those emotions. Guardians 2 doesn’t do that as well, so the soundtrack loses its emotional grip. However, the visual design is fantastic.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 erupts off the screen, constantly impressing with its use of color and spectacle. It’s a huge CGI party, but one that uses the entire spectrum of the rainbow. I was consistently impressed with not only the impressive use of color, but the entire aesthetic of the film. Sometimes, Guardians 2 evokes a minimal vibe with its set design. Other times, there are literal fireworks displays. If anything, the pure spectacle of Guardians 2 makes it worth the cost of admission.
Generally speaking, Guardians 2 is a weaker film than the original. However, it still manages to be an enjoyable time. Although the comedy tends to fall flat (and is drawn out a bit too often), when it hits, it hits well. In fact, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement and charm of the film. There’s plenty to love about Guardians 2, but digging deep into its narrative and scope might leave you disappointed. It’s a popcorn film in the truest sense; if you’re able to temper your expectations and suspend your disbelief, Guardians 2 will be enjoyable. Looking back, I don’t have the same urge to rewatch Guardians 2 as I did with the original. However, I can easily recommend it for a fun night out at the theater. Whether you’re a huge fan of the original, simply like comic book movies, or want a colorful action movie to let loose with, Guardians 2 will do that for you.
Movie Rating: 4 stars.
Movie Ratings Guide
1 Star = Unwatchable
2 Stars = Cannot Recommend
3 Stars = Great for the Fans
4 Stars = A Solid Movie
5 Stars = Must Own (DVD/Stream Download)
I'm a life long gamer and an overall media junkie. In addition to writing great articles like this, I host a gaming/comedy podcast called "Super Gamecast 64" available on iTunes and Stitcher. I also watch an unhealthy amount of movies, and try to spread as much love into the world as I can. Hope you enjoyed the content!