Could it have been as good as the original, anyway?
It’s hard living in someone else’s shadow, as explored in and experienced by the new Marvel sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (GOTGV2).
When the original stormed theaters in 2014, success was in doubt due to these characters being a tier or two below B-lister Iron Man at the time… but “Iron Man” fared well even with its lower standing, or possibly because of it; low expectations can be advantageous.
But Marvel audiences are nothing if not enthusiastic, and the Star Wars-style Guardians 2014 made over $773 million worldwide, making expectations worryingly high for its sequel… and we saw how “Iron Man 2” blinked in the face of high expectations.
But the odd sequel improves on its original, and perhaps taking inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back, GOTGV2 has its fair-share of daddy issues, too, maybe an oversized amount; to say the GOTGV2 script is overstuffed is an understatement.
Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) confronts absentee dad Ego (Kurt Russell) while still dealing with his adopted father, Yondu (Michael Rooker), who himself finds a kindred, wounded soul in Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) who is basically raising a Baby Groot (still voiced by Vin Diesel). Meanwhile, sisters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan ) bond over a shared hatred of their father, while Drax (Dave Bautista) meets his match in social awkwardness in Ego’s sidekick Mantis (Pom Klementieff). I haven’t even mentioned Yondu’s redemption in the eyes of his fellow Ravagers led by Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), or clingy Groot constantly trying to earn his keep, or the um, you know, PLOT.
Additionally, every inch of screen is packed with SFX that admittedly are worth every penny. But many other elements fall short of the original, such as the titular Volume 2 soundtrack not being as memorable, and the take not being as fresh. All of that drama is inelegantly shoehorned to make room for the ample jokes, which practically everyone but Nebula cracks.
But even with all of these shortcomings, GOTGV2 is still an entertaining adventure through the stars, one that will no doubt earn its money and sequel(s). And once “Vol. 2” proves the first wasn’t a fluke, perhaps they can step out of the shade that overshadowed them during these initial outings and leave their issues behind.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content