James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm when it was released back in 2014; it was widely inventive, hugely ambitious and packed with characters that were unfamiliar to the general audience yet grew to love as a result. It was highly-regarded as one of the best comic book movies of all time, and to some people, the best instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Expectations were high for this sequel, and much like the first movie, this is a fun, action-packed romp in deep space with the same likeable characters you knew from before, as well as a few new faces along the way. However, some of the uniqueness from before has been slightly lost with Vol. 2, and as a result some of the shine has dulled.
While the first film cleverly balanced character with a story that benefited from great pacing and editing, in this film, character and relationship building is pushed is key and centre, which comes at the expense of narrative and pacing. It’s clear that what Gunn is trying to do is deliver a movie that is much darker than its predecessor with the themes of family, growing up and moving on pushed to the very forefront. On the plus side, this allows for the cast to shine, with Chris Pratt still as likeable and charming as before and his scenes with Kurt Russell’s Ego are brilliantly well handled. Both Rocket Raccoon and Drax provide some of the big laughs in the film, Baby Groot almost steals the show, and Gamora is more fleshed out than before. The dynamic feud between her and her sister Nebula is expended upon in more detail and hints at bigger things to come with Thanos, whilst Michael Rooker’s Yondu is given a big story arc that is well deserved and pays off beautifully. As for new addition Mantis, she proves to be a fun addition to the team with great chemistry between her and Drax, and Pom Klementieff absolutely shines in her role.
Saying that though, the villains involved here were another bunch of forgettable Marvel foes that don’t actually do anything beyond what the script requires them to do. Despite that, characters are fleshed out, backstories are expanded upon, stuff explodes, there is an abundance of CGI, and Stan Lee’s cameo is extremely pleasing. But, it’s just a shame that it suffers from the Iron Man 2/Avengers: Age of Ultron syndrome; while there is a lot of entertaining stuff happening, there is very little in the way of an actual plot and that results in an uneven pace. Nevertheless, this is still a hugely entertaining movie despite its shortcomings, and that’s mostly down to the fact that this film is more of an out-and-out comedy than before. Speaking of which, the numerous jokes do raise a chuckle or a laugh, but sometimes they lessen the impact of the more dramatic and romantic sequences.
In the end, this a film feels very much like a Volume 2 by being less of a sequel and more akin to an expansion pack for the first movie. It’s very fun, exciting, interesting, the characters are still entertaining to watch and fans of the Marvel franchise will more likely get their money’s worth, but it just lacks the heart of the first movie and while the action and spectacle have been ramped up to spectacular peaks and heights, the story and pacing do suffer as a result.
Dir: James Gunn
Scr: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell
Prd: Kevin Feige
DOP: Henry Braham
Music: Tyler Bates
Run time: 136 mins
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is out in cinemas now.