Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review

Title: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt,
Zoe Saldana,
Dave Bautista,
Kurt Russell,
Bradley Cooper
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-fi, Superhero
Runtime: 2 Hours 16 mins
Music: Tyler bates
Studio: Marvel Studios
Certificate: US: PG-13
UK: 12A
Release Date: US: May 5th 2017
UK: Apr 28 2017
See If You Like: Guardians of the Galaxy,
Starlord Vs. raised expectations…

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, the voice of Bradley Cooper, and a loveable mo-cap of Vin Diesel (which proves to be far less wooden than his usual acting style) have returned as the loveable band of misfit heroes which won our cautiously optimistic hearts back in 2014. Yet while the gang are all here, the energy’s still high, the action’s just as regular, and the laughs keep on coming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a highly enjoyable, thoroughly entertaining, though completely unnecessary sequel.

With our band of bickering adventurers quickly living up to their closing promise of film one (travelling the galaxy to do a little bit of good and a little bit of bad), the crux of the story revolves around Peter Quill/Starlord (Pratt) discovering his father (Kurt Russel, Fast & Furious 8); who he is, what he is, why he wasn’t around, and answering all the questions abandoned children have when discovering their lineage, plus several more (there’s bound to be extras when your Daddy turns out to be a space god – little ‘g’).

Along the way Drax (Bautista) makes a new friend (Pom Klementieff, Oldboy), Rocket (Cooper) has an internal-wrestle with his need to be constantly mean, Gamora (Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) have some sister-issues to work out, Yondu (Michael Rooker) wrestles with both his inner conscience and the entire ravager community, and just about everyone comes afoul of an alien nation chasing down the Guardians for their own vengeance.

Oh, and Groot – Baby Groot – dances. Has fun. Ups the comedy with every scene he’s in, is ridiculously adorable, steals the show every time he’s on screen, keeps saying “I am Groot”, and is just about the cutest thing to ever grace the big screen.

The problem is, while there’s a lot going on, and it’s impressively paced (being so enjoyable, and so fast-moving, the two-and-a-quarter hour runtime flies by), there’s an air of pointlessness to the whole thing; by the end of the movie, despite all the internal conflicts, the big revelations, the space battles, family reunions, and settled arguments, there has been zero character progression from start to finish.

Last time we saw our heroes go from argumentative criminal misfits, to to a tight-knit band of caring, galaxy-saving, heroes who, after initially being forced to work together, came to regard one another as family. Here not only is the family needlessly extended (in some cases at least), but our heroes undergo no significant emotional changes, see no bonds strengthened or broken, and end up in exactly the same position as when they started; if this was TV, it’d be very definition of a ‘filler episode’.

Summed up by its soundtrack, and a couple of questionably amusing cameos, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is nostalgic (if you can get nostalgic about something which is barely 3 years old), highly enjoyable, though less than especially memorable, and tries too hard to simply emulate the successes of the first movie without traversing any new ground (the thing we all loved Guardians for doing the first time around), and sadly fails to live up to its initial offering.

Still succeeding from a technical point-of-view, the costuming, makeup, and entirety of the production design manage to both meet and surpass expectations. The visuals effects are stunning throughout, and James Gunn’s direction is once again perfectly suited to the kinetic, comedic, space carnage surrounding the Guardians’ adventures.

All of the major cast members clearly have a lot of fun in their various roles, it’s great to see more involvement from Michael Rooker’s Yondu (in case any Marvel TV exec is reading – a Yondu-based Ravager TV spin-off would be awesome!), and as exciting as ever to see Kurt Russell on the big screen. We even see Sylvester Stallone’s first Marvel role, and are introduced to a number of new supporting players. But the undeniably high-energy from Pratt and co., and the injection of new blood, simply can’t make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 more than what it is; an episodic re-hash, suffering from the law-of-diminishing-returns in comedy (yes, seeing Drax laugh is amusing, but when he chortles every single time he’s on screen, it loses all impact), and lacking the big set-pieces and interesting locales of the first.

So, a pointless, plotless, filler movie which, for some, almost impossible-to-pinpoint, reason (Baby Groot?) still comes highly recommended. Sure there’s no plot, no character progression, no memorable locales or set-pieces, a poor-by-comparison soundtrack, and the sense of emptiness felt when a film which never really gets going ends, but it’s still a well made, highly energised, super-fun, comedy space-romp which is well worth the price of admission, and guaranteed to entertain viewers of all ages.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

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Matt Wheeldon is the Founder, and Editor in Chief of Good Film Guide. He still refers to the cinema as "the pictures", and has what some would describe as a misguided appreciation for Waterworld.