Returning to save the world for a second time, the ragtag misfits known as the Guardians Of The Galaxy return for volume 2. Despite some solid jokes, impressive action scenes and surprisingly good emotional weight shown by each of the characters, it never quite lives up to the standards set by the first film.
The story kicks off with the group battling an intergalactic monster in a flurry of well choreographed scenes over the opening credits. Its a nice touch and sets the tone with baby groot (Vin Diesel) dancing to the fantastic soundtrack that accompanies the action throughout. After the frantic opening, the Guardians ultimately wind up in more trouble when Rocket The Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) steals a sachet of alien batteries from a golden-skinned priestess whom the group battle the monster for.
On top of this, Star Lord (Chris Pratt) runs into his Father who offers to bring him to his planet to give Star Lord more insight into his origin and his “true purpose” in life. Add on top of this Zamora (Zoe Saldana) being reunited with her evil(ish) sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu’s (Michael Rooker) inner conflict, there’s a lot going on. The first hour or so is where the jokes come thick and fast and its a good thing too, without the humour, surprising cameos and the big action set pieces, its painfully obvious there’s no plot or clear objective for the characters.
There’s no villain until at least 2/3 of the way through the film and although the subplots around each of the characters’ inner conflicts are really well developed and have satisfying character arcs, it does feel a little meaningless without the bigger conflict at stake. It feels like each of the characters have their own mini films within this one and there’s a big, empty hole where the main villain should sit, gleefully watching the action ensue. This was my own quibble though and even when the villain finally does show and rear its ugly head, it suffer from “villain wants to destroy the galaxy” syndrome.
The biggest selling point is definitely the characters though, their well defined arcs and all their conflicts were resolved to a satisfying standard and this was by far the main drawing point. I felt an emotional investment to these characters, more so than the first, and everyone from Yondu to Baby Groot were well written and very well acted. The chemistry between the actors was great and the action scenes were impressive from start to finish.
Overall, Guardians Vol 2. is a lot of fun. The jokes are funny, the action is extremely well shot, making good use of camera angles and slow motion, and the characters are as lovable as ever. Every character has a sufficient amount of screen time and this band of misfits do genuinely feel like a disjointed family when the credits roll. Its not quite at the same lofty heights the first film reached, but its a fun ride and one well worth taking if you can forgive the disjointed first hour or so.