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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Can a film be a kitschy cash-in when what it’s cashing in on has only been out a few years? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 suffers the sequel curse by doing more of what we’ve seen before, a lot more. The film feels like those behind it sat around a table asking what was popular in the first film and then someone said “just do more of that.”

With a new soundtrack front and center, this sequel is the Iron Man 2 of the latest batch of Marvel films. There’s some things that are better, but the film as a whole is a step back. The basic of the story is the Guardians stealing from a group called the Sovereign who then attempt to kill them, Star-Lord’s dad comes to visit, but he’s not all that he seems… and the Ravagers get more screen time. Plus Sylvester Stallone. With plot holes big enough to fly the Milano through (where does Star-Lord get batteries for his walkman?), the story is the flimsy way to connect action sequences and treat us to pretty visuals (which look fantastic in 3D).

But, through the plot, the main point of the film seems to be either making pop culture comments or playing “Where’s Waldo?” for Marvel comic fans. Intead of references to Footloose and Kevin Bacon, we have Knight Rider and David Hasselhoff. Did you like Drax talking about metpahors last film? This film has a bit about metaphors too. But, there’s laughs. There’s lots of laughs. There was clearly a decision somewhere to go that way taking a comedic route compared to the action/sci-fi film with comedic moments like the last film. And Baby Groot is front and center for both good and bad. All of that comes together for a film that feels about 30 minutes too long.

As I said, there’s lots of good. The cast is very charming and the quirks of each character is front and center, especially Drax who I appreciated much more in this film. The additions of lots of new characters doesn’t detract at all, though Kurt Russell as Ego at times just feels like Russell in any film.

But my biggest issue is the overall feel of the film which is that of a video game. With the emphasis on laughs and visuals, watching the film for a second time, this stood out to me even more (though something I thought about my first viewing). The open battle sequence and the end fight sequence, I fully expected to see squares and triangles top pop on the screen so that I can dodge and attack during the boss battles. The end battle especially felt like a combination of Tron, Star Trek V, and Arkanoid. I missed a controller in my hand.

The movie experience is a fun one overall, an early popcorn summer movie where you can turn off your brain and just enjoy all of the “in jokes” and references. The real enjoyment for me was seeing all of those Marvel comic references, some go back to the early days of the Guardians. This is a bridge movie whose role isn’t to tie into the bigger Marvel Universe but to get us to the third film which I expect we’ll see some of the same.

The film’s absolutely worth seeing for all of its flaws and this is one to see on the big screen and I’d even recommend it in 3D, IMAX, or IMAX 3D. It’s a popcorn film, it knows it is, and doesn’t try to make itself anything more than tha.

Overall Rating: 7.0

Almost American