Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

Couldn’t resist using this Japanese poster

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 picks up just after where the original left off. Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is a baby now, Drax (Dave Bautista) understands communication a little better, Starlord (Christ Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are still doing the will they won’t they bit (something that is repeatedly pointed out by the characters themselves). It starts off with the Guardians defending a power station from a giant space monster at the behest of a race of aliens called the Sovereign. In exchange for the help the Sovereign give Gamora’s fugitive sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) to the Guardians. Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals some batteries from the Sovereign, who in turn shoot down the Guardians ship and strand them on a planet.

Here’s the big issue with Vol. 2. This movie doesn’t have a villain until there’s maybe 40 minutes left and there’s 15 minutes of movie after the climax. The Sovereign aren’t a true villain (at least not yet) but more of an annoyance. This is a problem that you would expect in the first movie of a series, where you have to do origin stories and character building, and not in a sequel where you already have those things set and can jump right into the plot. That’s not to say everything before there’s a villain is bad but when I got to the hour mark and there wasn’t a bad guy yet I started to think, “Alright what’s the plan here?”

Vol. 2, like the first film, is very funny. James Gunn’s sense of humor is apparent throughout the movie and it feels as though Marvel gave him more creative control this time around. That’s good and bad. The jokes fire off in an ADHD after a couple of Red Bulls style. Most land but there are a lot that made me groan. Drax is hilarious and when paired with newcomer Mantis (Pom Klementieff) the movie is at it’s peak. Baby Groot is great as a superhero with a toddler-esque understanding of the world. However, there are a couple of emotional moments where the movie should have let the scene speak for itself but James Gunn couldn’t help himself. He’s a legit weirdo in the best possible way and I’ll always advocate Hollywood putting weirdos like him in charge of expensive blockbusters but I think Guardians would have benefited from some studio notes. *SPOILER ALERT* When a major character is sacrificing themself do not put a hacky “fricking but he didn’t say fricking” joke right in the middle *END OF SPOILER* Gunn also has an issue with repeatedly recreating scenes from the first one. They may be bigger and better this time around but we’ve already seen them once so the novelty has worn off. Yondu’s big arrow scene I’m looking directly at you.

Overall it’s a good movie. I don’t think it measures up to the original as it feels much more like a chapter in the MCU designed to move that forward than a movie that stands on its own but it’s still well worth your time. The action is fine, the jokes are good, and the characters are great. If you haven’t seen it yet I recommend you fix that