This ain’t Vol. 1, but it’s still a heck of a lot of fun!
Spoilers, as always. This warning may be a bit more pertinent, given that Guardians hasn’t been released in a lot of places yet.
The film is not exceptionally small in actual scale, but it’s a much smaller film in the sense that its focus is on character development and the theme of family rather than outright trying to muddle their way into saving the world.
While I wholeheartedly applaud the intent, given that the Guardians have had a lot less time for character development since they have so many characters introduced in one film, I can’t say I loved the execution. While it’s as slick as any Marvel Studios production, the split focus on so many character arcs makes the story choppy. It’s not hard to follow, but there’s little build up of tension and suspense before the final act.
I don’t exactly approve or disapprove of MacGuffins, but the Infinity Stone was used superbly in Vol. 1 to bring the team together to face a common enemy. But without a truly central plot this time, the story felt disjointed, without a real focus until we see the truth about Ego near the end. The integration of Yondu was much better than that of Nebula’s, which felt somewhat forced in order to progress Gamora’s character arc.
That said, Ego was a good if slightly predictable twist. The sacrifice of Yondu was a bit of a surprise too, and it was definitely more heartfelt than Quicksilver’s in Age of Ultron. However, he was cast as a ‘villain’ in Vol. 1, and without any scenes between him and Peter in Vol. 2 to establish a stronger bond, it felt odd to have Peter being so broken up about Yondu’s death.
Of course, plot aside, the acting was pretty good from everyone. There’s plenty of the usual Guardians humour too, with Drax and baby Groot the absolute stars of the show. The cinema was laughing out loud plenty of times to their antics, and baby Groot was just adorable. I was a little disappointed they milked him dry in the opening credits though, with that song and dance during their fight with the monster. It was reminiscent of Deadpool‘s freeze-frame opening credits sequence, but without the same sarcastic, self-referential humour, it fell flat when it dragged on for the length of the entire song.
Usually I can be pretty critical about the quality of a film, but for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I think it’s a matter of just following the same formula, pushing some character development and prepping the Guardians for their appearance in Infinity War. It’s more of the same good, family entertainment from Marvel Studios, and I think I can live with that. With Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok coming along, as well as the Russo brothers directing the Avengers, I doubt I’ll be jumping off the Marvel train any time soon, and certainly not because of the Guardians.