Reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bit more difficult than I suspected before sitting down to write this. The short review is pretty simple: If you liked the first movie, you’ll like this one. The only element that is really missing between the two is the surprise of how good the first one was — you go into the second one expecting it to be as good as it is.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has moments that are laugh-out-loud funny and moments that are heartfelt, even if they border a bit too heavy handed. The characters are as much fun this time around as they were in the first film with Dave Bautista getting a lot more lines as Drax — who is pretty damn funny in every scene he’s in. In fact, where Groot and Rocket were the standout characters in the original, Drax absolutely shines here.
James Gunn paints the galaxy with a very colorful brush and adds his irreverent sensibility to everything. For example, the Sovereigns use remote piloted drones to go after the Guardians — but their whole set-up evokes a video arcade from the 80s down to the sounds and people crowding around one machine.
There’s so much to like in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2… and yet… something felt just a little off about this movie. Nothing big, per se, and it’s taken me a bit of thinking to figure it out. What I’ve come up with is that this film seems to lack a quest like the first movie.
Does Guardians Vol. 2 need a quest? Maybe not — but it does feel like the movie meanders a bit more than the origina,l until it becomes laser focused in the final act. Instead of going out on an adventure, circumstances come to them. Thankfully, the characters are just so much fun to watch they could have done nothing at all and still be entertaining.
So here we are, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a great movie with fantastic characters saying great dialogue in a fantastic setting. The only issue that the movie truly suffers from is the fact that first Guardians of the Galaxy exists to compare it to. In the end, anything I didn’t like is just so minor as to not really count.