Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

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Megan Shankle, Editor-in-chief

I, like the rest of the American public, was enamored with the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, released in the summer of 2014 to wide critical acclaim. I keep “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” in the glovebox of my car and have a Star Lord bobblehead on my bookshelf. So naturally, I slid into my seat on May 4 apprehensive yet excited, my souvenir baby Groot cup in hand.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opens with a taste of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt’s) origins: his parents, driving down a winding country road in a convertible with “Lake Shore Drive” blaring in the background. It’s a fitting entrance for a sequel that ends up focusing on Peter’s backstory more than anything else. A few months after the events of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the team comprised of Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and baby Groot (played by Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively) is still fighting together, this time to protect valuable batteries for an alien race called the Sovereign in exchange for the release of Gamora’s imprisoned sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan). When Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals some of the batteries, the Sovereign make chase and the Guardians are fugitives once again.

After crash landing on an unfamiliar planet, the Guardians encounter Ego, a man claiming to be Peter’s father. Well, it turns out Ego is not only a god, but a god whose power is rooted in a planet of his own creation (which reads almost exactly like an episode of “Futurama” and not in a good way). The rest of the film devolves into a series of disjointed plot points that don’t seem to come together in any cohesive way.

The good: “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” is just as nostalgic and comprehensive as “Vol. 1,” and the timing of music during crucial scenes is breathtaking. A particular favorite is the Fleetwood Mac hit “The Chain,” the acoustic instrumentals serving as the perfect background to a slow motion entrance.

While the comedy can be heavy-handed, it’s certainly effective. A particular scene involving Groot and Yondu’s fin had me in tears from laughing so hard, and, judging from the guffaws around me, the rest of the audience as well. Dave Bautista packs a comedic punch in the role of Drax, and his flawless timing and deadpan delivery is what takes certain jokes to the next level.

There’s also the chemistry between all five Guardians “Vol. 2” is the first time the audience gets to see them as an established team, and their growing bonds show sides of characters never seen before. Peter and Gamora keep up their “will they/won’t they” act and Rocket is his crass, loveable self, constantly bickering with everyone in earshot.

The bad: in the wake of the hilarity and familial bonding, the plot gets lost. It’s easy to be confused by the seemingly random shifts in narrative and conflict and the influx of pointless new characters. There’s a continuity missing that takes away from the depth, and pacing issues that leave a bad taste in my mouth every scene lasts a minute or two too long, and it shows in the awkward transitions and clichéd dialogue.

The script, while hilarious, just isn’t as genuine as its predecessor and has no connection to the overarching plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe besides Gamora’s past with Thanos. This oversight comes as a surprise, especially with “Avengers: Infinity War” set to release in May 2018. “Infinity War” will feature an ensemble cast including the Guardians as they attempt to stop Thanos from acquiring the Infinity Stones.

In comparison to the first movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” just doesn’t live up to its own standards. But after the five (yes, five) post-credit scenes, the words “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return” flashed across the screen in traditional Marvel fashion so better luck next time, James Gunn.

B-