Finally we have another major release to talk about! April has been a very long month in that regard. As someone who has never seen a Fast and the Furious movie, I've been biding my time for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 since Beauty and the Beast came out in March. From here on out we're getting a blockbuster a week until the end of summer, and I couldn't be happier! It's been almost three years since the first Guardians of the Galaxy was released, and given its unexpected success it was surprising that Marvel took their time churning out this hotly anticipated sequel. But how did this film measure up to the heightened expectations after the surprise success of the first film?
Well, it was always going to be tough for this film to match up to its predecessor. There was almost no expectations for Guardians when it first came out, and that made it seem that much better to most audiences. How could a movie with a talking raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree possibly be any good? It was sort of a catch-22 by producing a sequel to that film, as it was almost guaranteed to make a bunch of money, but would almost certainly disappoint by comparison. To sum up my review, that was exactly what happened.
Where the humor mostly seemed naturally integrated into the story of the first film, in Vol 2 the balance seemed to be way off from scene to scene. Sometimes the humor would overpower the story entirely, and other times there would be some truly dramatic scenes that could have benefited from a bit of levity. Not only was the ratio a bit off at times, but the level of humor was cranked to a level that seemed almost desperate in certain moments. The first movie did a great job of weaving humor into the plot to provide comic relief in what could otherwise have been a dark and somber affair. That's not to say that this movie isn't funny. Indeed, it may have funnier moments than even the first film. There are just waaaay more jokes here than there probably needed to be.
The linchpin for this film's success was the father-son dynamic between Chris Pratt and Kurt Russell. I for one was surprised to see that Marvel was willing to disclose this information in the trailer for the film, as they're normally so cagey about what details they are willing to divulge in marketing materials. However, that wasn't the biggest surprise of this film, so perhaps they didn't feel the need to keep it close to the vest in this case. Either way, Kurt Russell was perfectly cast as Peter Quill's father, (aka, Ego The Living Planet). Not only do they both have a similar swagger that makes them so likable, but they also have the acting chops to sell some father-son bonding moments that could easily come off cheesy.
There's a lot going on in this film, and not enough time to delve into all of it. Besides, I like to keep my reviews relatively spoiler-free, so I'll refrain from going into any more plot details. Suffice it to say that this is a fun, colorful, and exciting film that furthers the story of these characters and sets us up for potentially many more movies that could spin off from what happens here. The more Marvel makes these films, the more I'm beginning to realize that there seems to be a ceiling and floor that the MCU is capable of filling with the quality of their films. That guarantees a certain level of quality for each outing, but also prevents anything truly great from getting through their filters. The Captain America films seem to be the anomaly here.
Anyway, I really did enjoy this film for the most part. I found parts of it disingenuous, and the action scenes were played in hyper-speed, but it was undoubtedly entertaining. Perhaps this was Disney's intent, but it made me really excited to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction at Disneyland as soon as possible. Though I didn't think it measured up to the original, I think it's a pretty solid entry into the MCU. Hopefully Marvel doesn't fall in love with the box office this film is going to garner and transform all of their properties into clones of the Guardians (as I'm fearing for Thor: Ragnarok). All-in-all, I think this movie deserves a solid three stars.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content