As one of my most anticipated films of 2017, I was anxious to see how this next volume of “Guardians of the Galaxy” stacked up to its first mixtape. I unapologetically gave that first edition a well-deserved Top 5 ranking on my Best Films of 2014 list. In fact, this charming group--led by space scavenger Peter Quill—replaced Tony Stark’s initial “Iron Man” as my favorite comic book-to-movie release of all-time. Well, until last year’s unbelievably edgy adventure “Deadpool” (my 4th ranked film of 2016) elevated the superhero movie game to new heights.
So now comes “Guardians” v2.0 and I am left feeling very disappointed. Disappointed not because this sequel tried too hard to match the flamboyance of its predecessor. Disappointed because Vol. 2 didn’t try at all. The camaraderie, non-stop humor, and sexual tension on the big-screen from three years is all diluted down to a younger audience and visions of the saga’s future third installment.
Chris Pratt’s Quill character has lost of the confidence and moxie worthy of a Star-Lord. The journey that the lackluster Quill takes to find the identity of his father is both predictable and painfully slow to discount David Hasselhoff & Co. as DNA possibilities. The film’s mercilessly slow start extends well beyond halftime and before three subplots begin to get cleaned up in good ol’ “Guardians” fashion. I am Groot.
We’re told the space heroes’ camaraderie established in 2014 has now grown into a loving “family” of characters. The smoldering sexual tension between Quill and green-chick Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has dramatically cooled off to an “unspoken” love interest—resembling the innocence of a first-grade crush. With several subplots juggled throughout the galaxy, few scenes have the Guardians all together to exude their collective mojo and eye-poke each other.
Another missed opportunity is the fine performance by Kurt Russell as an “Ego”-maniac with worldly powers. Russell’s complicated existence is summarily presented to finally bring closure to film’s 137-minute ordeal. No one buys Russell’s sales pitch as the god-like Ego except for the meek Star-Lord.
The film’s superstar is the smart-aleck raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper). His wise-cracking personality and penchant to steal carries this storyline and movie. With perfect comedic timing perhaps only rivalled in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Robert Downey Jr., Cooper’s Rocket physically and verbally destroys all standing before him. In a distant second place for humor comes Dave Bautista’s laughable Drax the Destroyer. His awkward laughs out loud is both contagious and funny to viewers.
Five short scenes (all specific to this “Guardians” tale) take place within seven minutes of the film’s final cut, as the credits roll. All are underwhelming and indicative of this movie’s overall punch-less endeavor with flashes of humor indiscriminately thrown in.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content. Its running time is 2 hours and 17 minutes, along with 5 bonus scenes during the credits.