Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

  • Time: 137 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: James Gunn
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

Storyline:

Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.

2 reviews

  • For film franchises, the second go-round tends to be a minefield of expectations: can it be as good or better than the first film? The answer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the follow-up to the highly successful Guardians of the Galaxy, is…sort of.

    The opening sequence is a blast, an auspicious beginning that perfectly encapsulates the irreverence, bonhomie, virtuosic razzle dazzle, and soundtrack-driven action that made the first film so irresistible. The Guardians have been tasked to destroy a tentacled space monster, but that action is mere background to the adorable sight of Baby Groot dancing around to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” The sprout is lost in his own bliss as the mayhem swirls around and behind him – for the Guardians, fun reigns above all and, by attempting to deepen the characters and their back stories, Vol. 2 ends up falling just short.

    “My name is Ego, and I’m your dad.” So announces Kurt Russell to Chris Pratt’s wisecracking marauder Peter Quill, and thus Vol. 2 establishes its intent to make its tale mostly about Peter’s daddy issues. On the one hand, few can begrudge Gunn this narrative strand especially since Russell is an always welcome presence and one believes the familial rapport between him and Pratt, whose Peter is initially wary of finally meeting the father he has wished for for so long. On the other hand, this exploration of Peter’s origin story bogs down the film instead of raising the emotional stakes.

    More successfully wrought is the dynamic between green-skinned badass Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her cyborg sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). The latter, every bit as fierce as her sister in battle and temperament, has been bitterly stoking the fires of jealousy over their father Thanos’ not-so-hidden preference for Gamora. Their physical and emotional confrontation is one of the highlights of Vol. 2. Another highlight is the expanded role of Drax, winningly played by wrestler Dave Bautista, whose literal-mindedness makes for consistent comic relief. His dealings with Ego’s empath, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), are both funny and endearing and are executed with a lighter touch than the push-and-pull romance between Peter and Gamora.

    The whole affair is meticulously staged. There are shootouts and showdowns galore, plenty of emotional strings are plucked and pulled, and laughs are plentiful. There’s no denying that Vol. 2 is a highly enjoyable ride, but there is a nagging sense that this has all been done before and better. The Guardians will be back – presumably with increased roles for Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh and Ving Rhames, all of whom make cameo appearances here, and possibly for Elizabeth Debicki, who makes a striking impression as the gold-skinned Ayesha – and one can only hope for a return to the original’s rambunctious spirit.

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  • (RATING: ☆☆☆½ out of 5 )

    GRADE: B-

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: Not nearly as much fun as its predecessor, this film still entertains.

    SYNOPSIS: That dysfunctional band of lovable space fighters as they solve one problem only to uncover another.

    RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs., 17 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: There is a scene in the new chapter of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 which has the right flippant tone that most of the film lacks. Playing to the song of Jay and the Americans’ Come A Little Bit Closer, the images of combat resonate with a stylish flair and a sense of wit. This sequence is very well choreographed and cleverly done. Would that the rest of the film have that same polish. I just couldn’t get remotely close to this new entry to the Marvel series, especially when comparing it to the first marvelous 2014 Marvel movie.

    This film entertains but unlike its highly enjoyable predecessor, this sequel lacks originality, inventiveness, and humor. Oh, it tries hard, but it leaves one with a feeling of bloated desperation. You really want to have that giddy feeling of joy once again, but everything this time around seems artificial and forced.
    The jokes repeatedly fall flat, the action is formulaic, and the plot(s) are heavy-handed. Many scenes go on far too long as the movie rambles from one misadventure on one planet to the next. All that is left is the faint reminder of camaraderie served by its capable cast and their yeomanlike contributions to their likable, if underwritten, characters.

    Fortunately for the film, the actors bring on the charm in major doses. Chris Pratt as wisecracking Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as the tough warrior Gamora, Dave Bautista as the brutish but lovable Drax, and the fine voiceover work of Bradley Cooper as Rocket and Vin Diesel as Baby Groot reprise their misfit roles with finesse. Adding strong support are Mike Rooker, Karen Gillian, and a robust energy force in the form of Kurt Russell as Ego, Peter’s long lost father.

    While James Gunn’s direction is solid enough, his writing efforts are a disappointing mix. His dialogue is bereft of one-liners that zing. He tries (and mostly succeeds) adding more backstories to his characters and their dysfunctional relationships. The real problem is his script which sacrifices its more interesting sub-plots (the relationship between Peter and Gamora, Drax’s new love interest, the sibling rivalry of Gamora and her sister, Rocket’s rude personality issues, Baby Groot’s learning curve) with the main storyline, a dull routine father-son conflict.

    Technically, some of his visuals are poorly executed. For a big budget blockbuster, the CGI is uneven. The characters of Rocket and particularly, Baby Groot are spot-on, Yet, the production design on most planets use of matte backdrops are far from authentic looking, lacking depth and details. Especially obvious in its ineptitude is Ego’s world, showcasing a garish Jeff Poons vibe.

    Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 will entertain its loyal audience, but already the franchise is losing its comic focus. This installment keeps the action moving, but it rarely catches its breath as it huffs and puffs its way to its conclusion. Well, let me re-phrase that…until its next chapter. Yes moviegoers, Vol. 3 will be coming to a theater near you very soon…let’s hope that chapter breaks out of its own comfort zone as it explores the ever-changing universe.

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