2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was without a doubt one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest surprises. In a year of comic book adaptations like the dead-serious X-Men: Days of Future Past and the disastrous The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we were given aliens, a talking raccoon, a walking tree, and a dude, all coming together to make a fun movie. Note that word: fun. The characters had their heavy moments, but the movie’s fun tone was never far behind.
This time around, the word of the day is still “fun”. The movie opens with the Guardians guarding some powerful batteries from some bad thing, and adorable baby Groot starts dancing. They then piss off the gilded Sovereigns (yes, they appear to be covered in gold), and crash land on a planet, where they meet an immortal Celestial named Ego (Kurt Russel), who claims to be Star-Lord’s father. He brings them to his planet and welcomes them warmly, but things seem a bit off. Is this paradise all that it seems to be?
True to its predecessor, this movie is very fun. It looks good – a manufactured sort of “good”, but still great to look at – and feels like a movie that was a lot of fun to make behind the scenes. I also care a good deal more about this film’s villain than the first Guardian‘s, as he is more interesting, and the good guys’ strategy ends up being more than simply shooting the bad guys. The soundtrack is a lot of fun as well, and there are some genuinely emotional scenes that caught me a bit off guard.
Despite its strengths, though, it lacked some of the narrative cohesiveness and character dynamics that the first film had. Vol 2 has far too many scenes of characters standing around and talking angrily and far too much bickering during what should otherwise be exciting scenes. I also can’t help but think that the presence of Kurt Russel and Sylvester Stalone, as well as the brief cameo from David Hasselhoff, are meant to tap into that juicy ’80s nostalgia that’s all the rage these days. The score is pretty lousy, often overly simple and saccharine or even contradictory to the mood that the scenes are working to build.
With all that said, I’m being pretty picky about this one. Guardians is a fun movie, and most opinions that I’ve heard have been positive. Congratulations to Marvel for not trying to shove this universe and these characters into its other films just yet; almost any cameos from the rest of the MCU would be horribly out of place. It’s not the funniest or funnest thing that you’ll ever see, but you’re bound to enjoy it.