Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

There was a certain magic to Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2014 smash hit film by James Gunn. That magic is gone.

Jack Lynch, Online Managing Editor

There was a certain magic to Guardians of the Galaxy, the 2014 smash hit film by James Gunn. That magic is gone.

Vol. 2 is lacking a lot of things: plot, character development, even humor in some spots (as surprising as that may sound), but the biggest thing it’s missing is the heart that the first installment had. Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket’s progression as a team was natural in the prior film. This time around, Quill and Rocket are far more malicious in their insults, Groot is a loveable baby, Gamora seems even more disinterested than before. Only Drax is still himself, the straight-talking and often unsettling “destroyer.”

The acting in this film is much like the film itself: very good but not quite great. Much of Pratt’s early dialogue feels forced and uncomfortable. Both Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan give good performances but Gamora and Nebula’s subplot about sisterly love feels shoe-horned into the film, and the actresses’ actions in this movie completely disregard those in the first film. The standout performances were those of Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff as Drax and Mantis, respectively. Their innocent and misguided banter offers comic relief in a slow middle section of the film. Sylvester Stallone is also present in order to set Yondu (played by Michael Rooker) up as even more of an outsider, something that could have been done far better if it was set up in the previous film. Stallone’s two scenes (three if you count one of multiple post-credits scenes) feel entirely natural, it is just jarring to hear Stallone’s near-incoherent mumbling in a Marvel film.

The visual effects were as to be expected: amazing. The alien worlds are fully realized down to their tiniest imperfections and eccentricities.

There were three relationships examined in this film. Peter Quill and his father, Ego. Gamora and her sister, Nebula. Rocket and Yandu. Two of them were well developed and satisfying. The one which was lacking is the most surprising: Gamora and Nebula. Both characters were introduced in the first film, so the fact that their subplot felt forced is disappointing. Quill and Ego’s story was genuinely heartwarming until the twist. And this is a really good twist. It is an earned moment. This isn’t a film that expects you to care about the characters for no reason (@ Suicide Squad) but you care about them because you know them. And you feel for them when it hurts, and oh it hurts. The third relationship is the most surprising and the most heartfelt. Rocket and Yandu bond while held captive by the aptly named Taserface. Their relationship is one of genuine respect and foul-mouthed humor.

No matter what I say, you will most likely see this movie. Not only is it Marvel, but it is Guardians of the Galaxy. This film will roll in the dough and it is a good movie, but it’s not the best movie of the year, I doubt it will even be the best Marvel movie of the year. Your day will not be made worse by seeing it, but you will start to forget it before you even leave your theater.