Can it be bad to have too much of a good thing?
The first Guardians of the Galaxy brought a breath of fresh air to the superhero genre, not taking itself too seriously, making fun out of its heroes, talking racoons and trees. The main issue with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is that the directors have tried to recapture the same essence of playful sillyness but have, unfortunately, taken it a few gags too far. Whilst the majority of the jokes are still genuinely funny, the shear number of them makes you feel the film has been written around the gags, rather than a story line.
In this film we see the team of ragtags, composed of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Zaldana), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Drax (Dave Bautista) quickly divided into teams and into their own storylines: Quill spends the majority of the film hoping for a relationship with his long-lost father Ego, an immortal Mr Know It All God (Kurt Russel). Gamora has to deal with sibling issues with her sister, villain Nebula (Karen Gillian). Baby Groot, Rocket and Drax are consigned to smaller side missions, which is a shame a the trio are usually the most entertaining of the group.
The film, written and directed by James Gunn, starts in Misouri in 1980, the year Kurt Russell’s Ego meets Quill’s mum whilst he was visiting earth. 34 years later, the Guardians are in the middle of a battle with an intergalactic squid on a mission that quickly turns sour when Rocket inadvertently crosses a race of gold skin humanoids called The Sovereign, led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). With the events set in motion the film goes full throttle on family drama: can Gamora and Nebula work through their differences and get over their overly screwed-up childhoold? Can Quill’s Celestial father convince him to leave his team behind and join his side as a demi god? With the main premises for the film established, there isn’t a huge amount of space left for the rest of the team, leaving them more as fringe, support characters.
The family storyline drags a bit, Kurt Russel is an amazing actor, but his part is the least interesting of the whole plot and it stops Chris Pratt from showing off his heroic and goofy self, the entire reason for his casting. Even Chris Pratt’s and Zoe Saldana’s characters, who spend most of the film dabbling in a will they or won’t they relationship struggle (they make very good company together), detracts from the film. The addition of a romantic element, even done in an ironic way, constantly acknowledging itself, is at total odds with the rest of the film.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good film, it’s still an entertaining film and it’s still a funny film. It just isn’t as good as the first one.