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October 2018

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action
Publisher: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: May 5, 2017


Movie Review - 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'

by Adam Pavlacka on May 5, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team's adventures as it unravels the mystery of Peter Quill's parentage.

In the two-and-a-half years since "Guardians of the Galaxy" hit the silver screen, plenty of things have happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As far as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his merry band of outlaws are concerned, though, it's been no time at all. That's because "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" picks up shortly after the events of the first movie and focuses on the aftermath of saving the galaxy. As a result, the Guardians are still finding their way in the universe and with each other.

The first film focused on the development of Star-Lord as an individual, and "Vol. 2" continues that trend by finally reuniting him with his long-lost cosmic father, Ego (Kurt Russell). Russell hams it up as Ego, both in the flashbacks when he was courting Peter's mother and in the present day. It's a perfect fit for a narcissistic character, and Russell pulls it off brilliantly.

Watching Pratt and Russell interact as father and son is easily the highlight of the film, especially as Peter learns the truth about his past and some family secrets are brought to light. Unfortunately, those powerful scenes are intercut with forced comedy that makes you cringe rather than laugh. It's as though the screenplay were written by two entirely different people because when it's on, it's spot-on, but when it misses the mark, it falls short by a noticeable degree.

The problem isn't the use of lowbrow humor. The first film pulled that off masterfully, and there are moments that are just as good here. If anything, it's a matter of timing. Jokes that would have worked as quick riffs are drawn out for no perceptible reason.

Similar issues arise with the action scenes. Some parts of "Vol. 2" feel tightly choreographed, with both a sense of tension and progression, while others feel as though they were drawn out simply because the VFX team wanted to show off its latest rendering hardware. An escape sequence in the middle of the film manages to combine the worst of both, giving us a rather boring, slow-mo escape, followed up by a comedy bit that felt like it was missing a laugh track.

Still, the good outweighs the bad here, and "Vol. 2" is plenty enjoyable. In the end, it's a visually impressive popcorn flick with a simple plot and contrived dialogue. As a summer action film, it hits most of the right notes, and it does look great on an IMAX 3-D screen. When you compare "Vol. 2" to the original, though, it's difficult to shake the feeling that director James Gunn was trying too hard to be "cool" and, as a result, missed the magic that made the first film work.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" wasn't a massive hit because it checked off all the right boxes. It was a massive hit because it didn't worry about doing the right thing. Absurdity in the original felt fresh and flowed with the story and the characters. Absurdity in the sequel just feels forced. It's kind of like when your parents try to be cool but miss the point. Or, to compare it to another Marvel film, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" compares to "Guardians of the Galaxy" much like "Iron Man 3" compares to the original "Iron Man."

Score: 7.5/10

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D, and IMAX 3-D.

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