Expectations could be the toughest obstacle for our Marvel Space Outlaws to overcome in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. After many questioned Disney’s reasoning in bringing the little known team that included a tree and raccoon to the big screen, the first film burst onto the scene in August of 2014 to become a smash hit that crossed generations. Chris Pratt became a mega star playing the sly Star-Lord, wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista had a breakout role as Drax and a tree managed to make audiences cry with his noble sacrifice. Guardians of the Galaxy became the hot new faces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe creating a huge shadow for all of its sequels to follow.
Director James Gunn attempts to wow audiences even more the second time around in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with an all out visual extravaganza. The film looks like a 1980s LSD trip with mind-blowing scenery involving a giant space squid and a planet that is actually alive. A scene involving Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his trusty Yaka arrow looks like a laser light show as the red streaking arrow dances violently across the screen much to the delight of Rocket. We also get a simple, yet dazzling effect morphing Kurt Russell back into his smirky 1980s self which is truly amazing considering how real it looks. After this display and recently Rogue One, the visual effects artists Disney has hired are making movie magic with their abilities to recreate performances from years gone past. James Gunn turns Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 into a kaleidoscope of space age imagery with tons of awesome Easter Eggs for die-hard Marvel fans helping the audience stay distracted from some of the follow up’s deficiencies.
There is entirely too much going on in terms of subplots causing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to spin its wheels at times deciding which path to lead our lovable gang of crooks turned saviors down in terms of story. The crew is split up for a good bit of the movie after a deal goes wrong with an alien race called the Sovereign. Star-Lord, Gamora and Drax hang out with (and on) Ego the Living Planet (Russell) while Rocket, Baby Groot and Yondu spend time dealing with Ravagers drama. The film feels like a bunch of smaller movies that are trying to fit into one big epic adventure and sometimes the pieces don’t always fit together as they should. All the planet hopping is still a good time, but the pacing issues prevents Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from reaching its true potential. Gunn struggles deciding if he wants his Guardians to stick to their outlaw roots or become the heroes they are destined to be while waiting to join the Infinity War in the Avengers franchise.
This sequel may have some issues, but what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 lacks in balance it makes up for in heart provided by our wonderful cast of characters. All the side stories manage to keep the audience attention thanks to sister squabbles between Gamora and Nebula and Baby Groot’s dance moves. The standout performance again comes from Dave Bautista as the blunt talking Drax the Destroyer. Sometimes sequels can overdo it the second time around with breakout characters (See Alan in The Hangover Franchise), but that is not the case with Drax. His scenes with welcome newcomer Pom Klementieff as the naive Mantis are both hilariously awkward and sweet. The lovable Drax makes up for the fact Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord deals with Daddy issues for most of the film and Groot (although adorable) is sidelined compared to last time. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is definitely a good time even if it lacks that certain special something which made the first film so fresh and fun.
Overall, I give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 the rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
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