There are few films as anticipated as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The sequel to James Gunn’s hugely successful 2014 film, this dynamic return to our favourite team definitely lives up to excitement. Vol. 2 picks up not long after the original film and sees the Guardians working to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, whilst struggling to keep their newfound dysfunctional family together in the wake of the turmoil caused by their new enemy, the Sovereign. However, the film is let down by a lack of cohesion in plot as these two separate plotlines fail to mesh together well.
In general, the performances are really stepped up in Vol. 2, and we see a lot more character development with all of the central cast. There is a clear sense of development between films. Dave Bautista’s Drax is a funnier, richer character as he shares more of his past that was only teased in the first film, and he gets more blunt, hilarious lines that bring him to the fore. Sean Gunn’s Kraglin also came into his own with a far more developed personality and role within the film as a loyal follower of Yondu (Michael Rooker) and a member of the Ravagers. The refreshed dynamic between Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) is one of the best parts of the film, with Rocket now playing exasperated parent to the delightfully funny baby Groot.
Newcomer Pom Klementieff’s performance, whilst okay, feels a little pointless as her character Mantis doesn’t serve any larger purpose within the film. ‘Disgusting’ Mantis is often the subject to jokes and humour at her expense through her naivety and strange looks, which leaves her feeling at odds with the rest of the film. The standout character is clearly Yondu, who – as is the trend with the other characters in the film – is developed and fleshed out far more than in the original. Michael Rooker gives an incredible performance as a more emotional and involved Yondu that plays counterpoint to the introduction of Quill’s father. A series of sentimental scenes concerning the character highlight the paramount importance of family within Vol. 2.
The main problem afflicting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is that the two main plotlines fail to align properly and leave you feeling slightly confused about where writer James Gunn is attempting to go with this film. On the one hand, you follow the introduction of Ego the Living Planet and Quill’s parentage, and on the other, the villainous Sovereign with their vague motives are left feeling underdeveloped, especially in the face of the more clearly established Guardians and Ravagers. The main question I had at the end: who was the real enemy of the film? The one unifying feature is the theme of family – the dysfunctional family of the Guardians is crucial and underpins the entire film as they struggle through a troubled plot, enforced by the new additions of Kurt Russell’s Ego and Pom Klementieff’s Mantis.
Five post-credit scenes and some spectacular performances later, this hilarious new instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues the high standards set by previous Marvel films and provides a lot of levity in a greatly troubled time within the fictional MCU. As per usual, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is visually stunning with a superb soundtrack, jokes that land every time, and a sentimental story at the centre – there’s no doubt that it’s well worth a watch.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn is distributed in the UK by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Certificate 12A.