Contains minor spoilers.
The much anticipated sequel to 2014’s beloved Marvel hit, Volume 2 brings back our favourite space rogues: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and (Baby) Groot as they discover god-like being Ego (Kurt Russell) who proclaims himself to be Peter’s father, while also facing danger from a race of beings who they have stolen from and from a band of space pirate Ravagers who have mutinied against Yondu.
OK, I hate to begin this review on a negative note but Volume 2 does have an inescapable flaw in that it includes far too many “touchy feely” scenes that lay on the sentimentality far too thick and this often results in a regrettable lack of energy. The middle section in particular, save for a few scenes that include Rocket’s ambush of the Ravagers (probably my favourite scene in the film given its great musical accompaniment), has the narrative practically standing still with the characters going through their own personal crises, looking all glum and moody; probably not surprising then that the audience members in the screening that I went to saw these scenes (especially the ones featuring Peter and Gamora’s arguing and Yondu’s imprisonment “reflection”) as perfect opportunities for a bathroom break – a mass exodus, if you will.
Granted, there are a few one liners that sneak in and attempt to keep the good humour up but overall, the sentimentality can get quite mawkish and seems to dominate the vast majority of the feature; I willed it all to be more anarchic and high energy as it was in the previous instalment.
Saying all of that though, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found as the film is never boring and the Guardians do get to kick ass all over the place while constantly sparring verbally with one another brilliantly. The story is quite interesting, it’s satisfying to see the mystery of Peter’s parentage finally solved and the finale is a worthy dramatic payoff – despite a couple of ropey effects, it’s all quite exciting and there’s definitely a moment where all hope genuinely seems lost (even though “love saves the day” eventually. Come on, man).
The lovable cast are still game for a laugh: Bradley Cooper yet again steals the show as Rocket, Drax becomes far more of a comedic character (which is a bit of a shame since I wanted to see more of him charging headfirst into battle, ballsy warrior that he is) and Michael Rooker gets a lot more to do as Yondu, mowing down countless enemies with that . . . “whistle stick” . . . of his – a weapon that is apparently able to take down scores of enemies without them even firing a single shot in retaliation. A shame then that Yondu wasn’t in The Avengers – he could have taken out that whole Chitauri horde in five seconds . . .
Elsewhere, Kurt Russell is charismatic enough as Peter’s dad and Pom Klementieff is a very welcome addition as the empathic Mantis; she is loveably sweet and with a childlike naivety that is not annoying or cloying in any way. But it is a shame that Glenn Close and John C. Reilly didn’t come back for the sequel and Sylvester Stallone, though he does well with what he’s given, was an ultimately unnecessary addition. And finally, Karen Gillan gets to imbue her character Nebula with a bit more depth but her eventual reconciliation with Gamora happened a bit too conveniently and unrealistically.
Oh, and I prefer Adult Groot. Sorry y’all.
The film has a fine soundtrack, though it’s regrettably underwhelming when compared to the previous film’s OST, and the jokes hit a fair amount of times, though some of the humour is just a bit too kid-friendly and certain moments were a bit too silly for my liking. And on that note, there were far too many instances of characters surviving through things that they really shouldn’t have (which is probably something that’s happened in many other Marvel films – I’ve probably just been spending too much time over at Cinema Sins) and there are also a few too many plot holes and preposterous/unrealistic moments.