“Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" Is An Entertaining Yet Emotional Mess

Back in 2014, Marvel Studios demonstrated how truly loyal its brand is with fans going out in droves to see a film about a group of mismatched antiheroes in space that includes a raccoon and a talking tree. Guardians Of The Galaxy was a success although its sequel left me unsure about how it would fare. While far from a disappointment, it still is plagued with tropes present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 follows the gang from the first film: Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), on the run in the galaxy once more as they steal a few prized artifacts from Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the Sovereign race. After a space raid, they crash down on a mysterious planet and cross paths with Star Lord’s long lost father, Ego (Kurt Russell).

Much like in the last film, the chemistry between the main cast is present. While they often engage in witty bickering, their dynamic is given a lot more pathos this time around. Mainly because of how it focuses on the fact that they are lone outcasts who are each other’s family. To me, it demonstrates the theme of family better than The Fate Of The Furious because they don’t need to repeat the word “family” over and over like a broken record to tell us that the film is about family.

But one area in which this film improves upon its predecessor is how some of the secondary characters from the last film are fleshed out more. For instance, we get a better insight into the conflict between Gamora and her villainous half-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) as well as the dynamic between Star-Lord and the alien Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker), his father figure. Both storylines help carry out the film’s theme involving family.

As for where the film falters, it does start to lose momentum in the second act where there is not much action. I don’t just mean “fight ‘em up” action but not much really happens. Everything kind of slows down. Also, I found Elizabeth Debicki to be rather wasted. She does do a fine job with what she is given but she is barely given anything to do.

Without going into any major spoilers, there is another villain revealed. Said villain helps solve the issues the Marvel Cinematic Universe has with its poorly developed villains that aren’t named Loki (Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, etc..) because it has more charisma to hold our attention, but not by a whole lot with its cliched motivations.

Going back to positives, the soundtrack is pretty eclectic and of course a delight. The soundtrack is a key aspect as to what made the first film so enjoyable and distinctive from other MCU films while the soundtrack also served as Star-Lord’s connection to his life back on Earth. Even when the various classic songs (“Mr. Blue Sky” from ELO, “Fox On The Run” from Sweet, “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac, etc..) were in danger of overshadowing the storyline a la Suicide Squad, it always knew when to hold back.

Despite both its villainous and pacing flaws, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 still packs the same entertaining punch as its predecessor only with a lot more heart as well. Even if it’s not perfect, it is still a great way to start the summer movie season and is worth the price of admission.

Grade: B