James Gunn directs Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista in this sequel to the tongue in cheek a-holes save the universe smash.
Remember when we got two or three blockbusters a year? Now I just look forward to a rare week off. Maybe this review is tainted a little by mega-spectacle product fatigue as whatever negatives I am about to write the underlying point is GotGV2 is tons of daft fun. I was sold by the Lethal Weapon 2/3 inspired teaser where characters banter over a very dangerous bomb, Gunn’s riff on that old ruse proved to be a great advertisement yet again. And for the first hour Gurdians delivers exactly the same orgasmic rush as a Lethal Weapon sequel; an ensemble you already love, with a well established chemistry, bantering in a series of episodic adventure sequences. This first hour is a gooey, colourful buzz of entertainment. Everyone rocks… Bautista, Baby Groot and Michael Rooker’s Yondu especially. It is in the final half the party lurchingly flags. An overlong spaceship dominated finale, heroes Pratt and Saldana seem sidelined, bonus Kurt Russell loses his human form (big mistake as he’s perfect when he is actually on screen). It is not terrible but it noticeably is not on a par with its predecessor nor the preceding hour of hoot and heehaw. To look at another famous sequel, franchise shepherds often refer to Empire Strikes Back as the pinnacle of follow ups. That the fact it not only gave us more but went darker shows us the right way to expand a beloved hit. But look again at Empire Strikes Back. It has no plot. Hereoes get split up, go on seperate jaunts, reunite a little changed and matured. There’s no MacGuffin, no new threat, no finish line to race towards. The subplots are a means to an end to spend more time with the characters you love in a universe you want to explore. The first half of Guardians 2 embraces this ideal, the second half rejects it to tie the most elaborate knot to bind it all together and make it feel like an intentionally wholemeal tale. Knot tying is not fun. Silly, as it could have gotten away with just being a mixtape of cool, self evicerating, visually trippy moments. Like for example that glorious credit sequence of Baby Groot dancing while chaos unfurls around him. Or the five brilliant credit post credit stings… scenes that have little bearing on any grand narrative but serve as great irreverent punchlines. That’s how Guardians works best, giving the whole thing arcs and conclusions gets in the way of the fun. Just let em be the ragtag bunch of space pirates everyone ridicules, everyone needs.