GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol.2 Review: 7 out of 10 ("I AM SEQUEL!")
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 is exactly what it needs to be and for nearly everyone who wants to see it, that is likely good enough. This is the sequel to 2014's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. This film has been announced since before the release of the initial movie because that is the machine that Disney/Marvel has built.
Gunn chose to set the sequel shortly after the first film to explore the characters' new roles as the Guardians, and to follow the storyline of Quill's father established throughout the first film. Working as part mercenaries and part altruistic badasses, the Guardians end up working to help a group called the "Sovereigns" in exchange for Gamora's estranged sister Nebula. However, because these are rogues, after all, they end up on the run from the very ones that hired them. Soon after, they cross paths with Ego (Kurt Russell) who invites the Guardians back to his home planet all so he can reunite with his long lost son Peter Quill/Star-Lord.
GOTGv2 is a departure from most superhero films in that it seems so much more self-aware. Caring far less about connecting to other movies in the MCU, it actually takes what it did so well in the initial film and doubles down on nearly all of it again here, including another 70s/80s infused hipster soundtrack. If most Marvel films seem quippy and clever, this one is overly so. GOTG2 is really more of an action comedy--and this film seems heavier on comedy than even its predecessor. Add in Baby Groot running around with as much cuteness as a basket of puppies and Bautista as Drax who has at least double the screen time as the previous film. Heck, it is nearly *his* film here. And all that is fine and fun and entertaining.
Sure. Why not.
But like so many other MCU films, it lacks much in terms of developing much in the way of conflict and tension--although there is more here than other MCU chapters. The antagonistic forces in the film don't really arrive till the final act, and the tale told to get there is so movie-worn in its telling that we must wonder why a bunch of characters in a movie that are all so self-aware can't see the threat they face, despite it being terribly obvious. And that is just part of this movie's undoing. For as many "insider" references to 80s culture that Peter Quill (and James Gunn) want to make here, a few of them are a little *too* inside. Though they might be some fun easter eggs for the 40ish crowd, no doubt some of them will have teens and 20 somethings hitting up Google after the credits run. And speaking of credits and easter eggs, there are five(!) different post-film easter eggs but, alas, none of them really amount to much. Stay if you want, but there likely isn't much here to reference for anyone except the most hardcore Marvel fanatics.
But in the big picture, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 is still a lot of fun. It delivers on its promise to its audience. You get exactly what you expect. And that is enough. Just don't expect any more than that.