Despite — or, perhaps, because of — its ragtag group of main characters, 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” became one of the most popular superhero films ever to hit theaters, grossing a record-breaking $94.3 million in North America in its first weekend.
The original was a perfect mix of a funny and likable cast, a space-action plot and an oldies soundtrack to boot. With the success of the original, Disney and Marvel have teamed up again to jump-start the summer 2017 movie season with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
The characters from the first film return for the second, including Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon and now Baby Groot, and continue their roles in a team of outcasts. In “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Star-Lord meets his long-lost father, Ego, and learns the truth about his lineage.
While many Marvel films have some sense of humor to them, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is one of the few that might be classified as an action-comedy. For the amount of humor attempted, it’s impressive how much holds up. The real triumph, however, is that the humor is often mixed with the action seamlessly, creating scenes that are a true delight to watch. In one of the earliest parts of the movie, an intense fight is played out in the background, while the foreground features comedic action. It is entertaining and charming, and sets a lively tone for the rest of the movie.
Another success of the movie is its villain. Most Marvel movies have their dynamic heroes fight dull villains with ill-defined motivations and little back-story. But “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” features an entertaining villain with an effective buildup and reveal. A good villain is critical to a good superhero movie, and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” benefits from a villain that’s both a formidable adversary and relatable to the viewer.
The film’s downfall is that the main conflict does not reveal itself until more than halfway into the movie. Before that, there are some smaller subplots that are considerably less entertaining than the main plot. The subplots would not necessarily be such a drag on the movie, but when they dominate the entire first half, it is annoying to wait for the main adventure to begin. The minor villains are foils, either there for a laugh or as a constant force against the guardians. Neither task feels important or engaging enough to justify them being in the movie.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” sets out to build on the success of the first movie, and for the most part, it is a success. In comparing the two movies head-to-head, the first one will definitely be seen as the better one, but “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” serves its purpose as an entertaining sequel that expands the universe of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and all Marvel movies in general.