Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are back for another round in the highly expected Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2. A sequel that from day one carried the pressure of topping its predecessor’s incredible success, or if not, at least offering something that is just as good.
In this second chapter, backed by a brand new “awesome” soundtrack and once again written and directed by James Gunn, we’ll follow the now familiar group of anti-heroes fighting to save the galaxy (again), while still trying to figure out a few relationship issues – including fresh ones (with, of course, a lot of that sense of humor we loved so much in the first movie infused along the way). But the most important encounter in the film will be the one between Peter Quill (Pratt) and newcomer Ego (Kurt Russell), which will mark the beginning of Quill’s journey to self-discovery and in the meantime finally answer the mystery of his true parentage.
On paper all of this sounds pretty much like what every Guardians fan could wish for, but that’s without taking into account the incredibly high level of expectation that is following the first movie. A legacy that could have, well, pretty much jeopardized the success of Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2 by putting way too much pressure on James Gunn’s shoulders.
So, did the director manage to override this mountain of an obstacle? Let’s find out.
A New Chapter that Puts the Focus on its Characters More than the First One
This might be the best thing about Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2. Conscious about the fact that the plot will probably not meet the same level of excitement from audiences, “Gunn commits more to the characters than the plot this time around,” making the story take “a backseat to them.” And not surprisingly, this decision allows the film to stick on top of the list of Marvel’s sagas with the “best and most entertaining set of characters,” thanks to a result that “hasn’t lost its love for inspired lunacy,” as “family ties are ingrained in this script’s DNA.”
Yep. Expect this sequel to have a much more personal tone, where hero Star-Lord will juggle between his feelings for ace assassin Gamora – who will have other problems, “duking it out with her seething bionic adoptive sister Nebula (Karen Gillan),” – and getting to know his long-lost father in the person of Ego, “a powerful celestial being.” All of this, of course, without mentioning the come-back of the Ravagers leader Yondu (Michael Rooker, who gives an “excellent” performance), Peter’s kind of adoptive father, who will this time show a softer side of his personality.
An Ambitious Follow-up that Tries Too Hard
“Bigger in every way,” Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2 “doesn’t lose the charm and general likability of the first one,” but “the magic, though not entirely gone, has taken a serious hit, done in by a combination of prosperity and anxiety.”
As a result of trying too hard to maintain the first movie’s general wittiness and extravagance, the sequel “works harder for less fun.” While there’s not denying that it is “an adventure worth taking,” “this time you can sense just how hard the series’ wizard of a director, James Gunn […] is working to entertain you. Maybe a little too hard.”
It was evident that this Vol.2 couldn’t “match the sneak-attack surprise of its predecessor,” but the obvious “insistence on hitting everything twice as hard soon becomes wearing” and makes “what was engaging in the first film quickly overstay its welcome.”
Best quotes from the reviews:
“Could Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have been better? Sure. But it’s hard to complain about the Thanksgiving turkey being a little dry when the family around the dinner table is having such a wonderful time.” – Alan Cerny, Coming Soon
“It’s all impeccably staged, yet stuff happens because the movie needs stuff to keep happening.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Be careful what you wish for. ” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“The difference between the first “Guardians” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is that the new movie is flush with what a big deal it is. Ironically, that makes it a smaller deal.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety