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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Nathan Fillion, Tommy Flanagan, Sylvester Stallone, Glenn Close, David Hasselhoff, Michael Rosenbaum, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Miley Cyrus, Seth Green, Jeff Goldblum and Stan Lee and the voices of Bradley Cooper, Rob Zombie and Vin Diesel.

Screenplay by James Gunn.

Directed by James Gunn.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 135 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is an odd schizophrenic little blockbuster, a mixture of everything that is good and everything that is bad in the current world of comic book adaptations.

So first, to give Guardians 2 its due: the special effects are mostly very impressive, there are some significantly funny jokes in the film, it moves at an impressive clip and is rarely dull.

At the same time, it is also everything soul-crushingly shallow and predictable from the current incarnation of the Marvel Comic Universe. Non-heroic heroes? Check. An insane number of explosions and shotgun rounds fired on a near constant basis? Check. Dirty, grimy, hopeless locations? Check. Will-they-or-won’t-they romantic entanglements? Check. Giant fiery flying machines crashing to the ground? Check, check and check. Semi-clever old topical references that will go right over the heads of the target audience? Check. Kitschy old pop songs? Check. (Actually, the soundtrack music is one of the few purely fun parts of the movie.) They even overdo it on the end credit Easter Egg scenes, stuffing in an unwieldy four (count ‘em!) short “surprise” scenes during the final credits.

Speaking of unwieldy, did I mention this film goes on for two hours and fifteen minutes?

I’m not going to lie. A few years ago, I never understood why the first Guardians of the Galaxy film became such a big hit: a bunch of unknown and kinda dull superheroes shooting the shit out of several alien worlds while bickering amongst themselves. However, I will be the first to admit that I am one of the few people who didn’t seem to love the movie, in fact I felt that the film was pretty meh.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is opening to even more acclaim than its predecessor, even though as far as I can see they have only ramped up its mediocrity. So perhaps I am not the right source to find out about the new movie. I obviously just don’t get the series.

The biggest problem is a carryover from the original film; these superheroes are just not all that interesting. In reviewing the original I said that there was only one of the five members of the Guardians who I would see a stand-alone film of, Bradley Cooper’s animated talking raccoon Rocky. Starlord’s (Chris Pratt) character is relatively intriguing too, he’d make a decent sidekick to a more exciting hero, but is not worthy of carrying the film on his own back, which he pretty much must do.

Strangely, two of the Guardians became more complex characters in this go-around, though still not worthy of their own vehicles. Muscleman Drax (Dave Bautista) has grown a philosophical bent that only makes him more intriguing. And by changing woodman Groot (Vin Diesel) into a sapling at the end of the first film, his character can be used in new cute kid ways – though that will not last into the next film.

Still, the storyline – a mishmash with Starlord’s dad and Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) sister showing up, an angry race of gold-painted women, unspoiled planets, killer bounty hunters, skullduggery and yet another plot to destroy the galaxy (yawn!) – is a complete mess. It all feels rushed, manipulative and formulaic. In fact, the single most heartfelt, tragic moment in the film works only because the filmmakers grafted Cat Stevens’ gorgeous ballad “Father and Son” and a digital firework display above the action.

Will Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 be a smash hit? Yeah, probably. But for me it’s only a step above the cheesy incoherence of Transformers – empty calorie filmmaking, heavy on the action but way too light on the plot. Or, to quote the Bard: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: May 5, 2017.

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