The Marvel Cinematic Universe has found a winning formula by creating films filled with interesting but relatable characters and just enough humor to keep the audience laughing but not go over the edge into farce. Guardians of the Galaxy might be the series best example of this, which made a sequel to the 2014 box office hit inevitable. Unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 suffers from sequel-itis just like so many other MCU films (Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World) have. While Vol. 2 is able to find some of the magic that made the original so great, the film suffers from dull new characters, repetitive humor and a disappointing use of the much-hyped appearance of Baby Groot.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens up with one of the most entertaining and visually exciting opening credits sequences in cinematic history (which is saying a lot considering the opening credits sequence for the first film was already a classic). From there it appears the film is going to attempt to create an entire film’s plot based off the actions of the main characters in this opening sequence as the Guardians are chased down by a group of Golden aliens after Rocket (the boisterous raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals a set of super batteries that they were originally hired to protect.
Unfortunately, the film decides not to attempt such a gimmicky premise in favor of a storyline about Star Lord (Chris Pratt) meeting his long lost father (Kurt Russell). This storyline ends up becoming so generic and predictable (and it’s filmed in such a CGI-heavy format) that it’s hard to get any sort of joy out of it. While Dave Bautista gets a bunch of great material as Drax the Destroyer, other scene-stealers of the series such as Rocket and Baby Groot are forced into secondary storylines. That’s a real shame because while he delights often while on screen, Baby Groot doesn’t get the amount of screen time or dedication in the script that should have easily made the appearance of this cute but vicious talking tree a slam dunk.
While the film does struggle with honoring the characters that it built up in the first film, that is not the case with Yondu. The rogue space scavenger was a nice touch in the first film, but that’s really all he was, a little energetic spice to add to the main product. Here Yondu is given much more importance, and the always-underrated Michael Rooker makes the most of his character’s new found significance. While most of this film is filled with disappointments, Rooker’s performance is one of the true highlights of the cinematic year.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 recycles a lot of what made the first film so great to middling effect.