Release: May 5, 2017
Story: The Guardians of the Galaxy (played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper) are on the run from a race of gold-skinned, uptight aliens; the Ravagers, led by the blue-skinned Yondu (Michael Rooker); and Gamora’s vengeful sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan). They bump into Peter’s long lost father, a powerful celestial being known as Ego (Kurt Russel). With Ego is his assistant Mantis, a childlike empath played by Pom Klementieff. Ego wants Peter (the leader of the Guardians, played by Pratt) to join him on the planet he created to help accomplish the immortal Ego’s life purpose, but Peter and Gamora (Saldana) are suspicious of Ego’s intentions.
Thoughts: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not as good as its much-loved predecessor. It’s just okay. The plot is barely present until the last act, and most of the film feels like a series of events rather than an actual story. There are some great jokes, lines, and sight gags, but director and writer James Gunn often goes overboard with the humor and undermines the drama and the serious stakes. The personalities of our heroes are amped up from their last outing, particularly Rocket and Drax. It’s like Gunn, the actors, the studio, or someone said, “Hey, people really liked Drax’s laugh and social awkwardness in the first movie. Let’s multiply that by ten in the sequel, and the audience will love him even more.” Stuff like this doesn’t work. This, mixed with the overabundance of humor and the sometimes subpar acting or cheesy dramatic lines, can make it seem like you’re watching a Guardians of the Galaxy parody. Some of the drama doesn’t work, either, and certain character arcs and relationships aren’t given enough time to develop believably or things are needlessly spelled out to the audience.
I know that’s a lot of negatives. But, honest to God, I really don’t hate this movie. There is still fun to be had. Like I said, there are funny moments. It looks as good as ever, and there are some scenes between the characters that really work.
Mostly, though, Guardians 2 is a hollow, manufactured, paint-by-numbers film doing little you didn’t see done better in the first installment, which is all a shame when the first film had so much creativity and heart. The movie is worth seeing. Just don’t expect it to be as good as the first. I only hope that Gunn gets back on track for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.