Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features strong performances from the supporting cast which helps dull the pain of a bloated narrative.
The film has quite a promising start as the prologue takes place during the 1980’s and we are quickly introduced to Kurt Russell, playing Peter Quill’s father. We are then jettisoned to the present as our favorite band of galactic heroes who are in the midst of a mission to protect the Sovereign’s energy supply that quickly transitions into the best opening sequence ever for a Marvel film.
Rocket gets the crazy idea that it would be a great to steal from the very same people who had just hired them a short time ago. Of course, this idea goes horribly wrong and leads to an intergalactic shootout culminating in a mystery oval-shaped ship showing up at the last second to save them from certain death. The Guardians’ vessel ends up crashing on the planet below, and our mystery ship lands next to them. The oval ship is piloted by Ego (Kurt Russell) who just happens to be Peter’s dad. The family reunion is short as Peter (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) head off with Ego to his home world while Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) stay back to repair their ship. It’s at this point that things go from bad to worse as Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the extremely pissed off High Priestess of the Sovereign contracts Yondu to hunt down the Guardians and bring them back to her.
Part of the reason why Guardians of the Galaxy was such a success is due to the energetic acting performances. Chris Pratt cemented his current status of a leading man based on the role of Peter Quill. Dave Bautista proved to the world that not all wrestlers are bad actors, just ones named Hulk Hogan. However, the acting in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. wasn’t nearly enough to elevate the film.
Chris Pratt’s performance in the film was a mixture of teen angst with a little sprinkle of daddy issues. Zoe Saldana portrayal of Gamora was drab and didn’t have the same spark as the first film. The best acting in this highly anticipated sequel came from the unlikeliest of cast members. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel’s lines in the movie had the audience roaring with laughter. Dave Bautista nearly stole the film from the entire cast with his dry Drax like delivery. The best acting came from Micheal Rooker and his portrayal of Yondu. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu is nothing more than a thief who kidnapped a young Peter Quill. This time around, he’s more concerned about his legacy, and there is more to him than swiping things. Without getting into spoilers, Rooker gives his character a tremendous amount of depth which was pleasantly surprising.
James Gunn manages to navigate the pressure of a sequel with relative ease. This time around he has a much bigger budget than the original film, and you get the sense the felt the need to spend every penny on visual effects and production design. Ego’s planet was extremely psychedelic and was a bit of an overkill. However, the space battles with the Sovereign looked incredibly fresh and added to the film watching experience.
From the onset, it was obvious that the focus of this film was going to be family (specifically Peter’s). We, of course, get into that whole dynamic in which Ego and Peter finally find each other after all these years. Could Peter finally feel complete? Could he be genuinely at peace after 34 years? Before we are allowed to find that answer out, Gunn takes the narrative in a dozen different offshoots where we discuss the horrible family lives of Gamora, Rocket, and Yondu. Why? Their family lives have no impact on Peter’s impression of his dad. Maybe Gunn feels the need to pound that theme into the ground?
Even with all the issues surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the film will still be a major commercial success for Marvel. The narrative delivers just enough for the comic book fans to be satisfied. Average fans will forgive the thin plot line because they’ll still be guffawing over a line Rocket just yelled. The musical selections are so perfect that one can’t help but wonder if Gunn picked what songs were going to be on the soundtrack before he even wrote the screenplay. If you plan on going this weekend, don’t expect the same brilliance of the original film. That’s just a standard this film has no chance of reaching.