Although not as eternally memorable as the first film from 2014, this highly anticipated sequel by today’s standards is not bad at all
The highly anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is here in theatres, and it is pretty good: not as eternally memorable as the first film from 2014 that spawned hope in all of our hearts about mainstream cinema’s potential but still, by today’s standards, not bad at all.
The main problem of this sequel, which is also written and directed by the talented James Gunn, is its lack of restraint. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, this sequel gets unwieldy towards the end, proving, at least in my mind, that a $200 million budget is most certainly indulgent.
The film starts off well, with the signature soundtrack-oriented set pieces that made the first film so surprising, original, refreshing and delightful, a feeling that I experience so rarely when watching movies these days. The beloved characters are back in good form, with Chris Pratt as the unlikely hero Peter Quill aka Star Lord, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, the adorable, prickly, furry, furious, sarcastic, genetically modified creature that everyone loves to pick on, Zoe Saldana is great as the brooding, soft-hearted Gamora, fighter and love interest of Peter Quill, David Bautista continues to create hilarity as Drax, the Destroyer, who says exactly what he thinks, and finally, Vin Diesel, who excels as Baby Groot – the inarguable star of the show.
There are many wonderful moments in this film as the Guardians get up to their usual antics: Rocket stealing stuff that gets them into trouble and the incessant bickering that is so endearing, and is also their strength and their downfall.
Many old, familiar characters return to fill out this outlandish universe, including a cameo appearance from a very famous actor that will bring smiles to everyone’s faces. There is also the much-anticipated appearance of Peter’s father Ego (Kurt Russell), a seemingly heart-warming reunion that quickly goes astray.
As the film progresses into its final denouement, all the things that are good about it are overtaken by the over the top, quite frankly hideous special effects (I will not elaborate further, you will see for yourself), and by an overly long, drawn-out final battle scene that could really do with the lightness that made the opening scene of this film, and the final scene of the first, so very memorable.
After all, when characters like these are brought to life on the screen, what we really want is to get to know them better, not to see them hurtle across space yelling indecipherable things to each other as our eyes blur at purplish green space clouds. The emphasis on action here is at the expense of the development of Peter Quill’s gregarious personality, the heart-warming, cross-species friendship between the Guardians, and the funny, endlessly quotable jokes that stay with and incorporate themselves into our vocabulary. When Peter calls Rocket a “Trash Panda”, it becomes one of those moments. If only there were more than just the few.