by Paislee House, Film Critic
James Gunn’s second installment of the beloved “Guardians of the Galaxy” series is one hell of a ride. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is full of action, color and music just like the first, but does it improve on the formula? Not so much.
The story of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is nothing new and audiences will experience no grand revelations while watching it. Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, never knew his father and fans are well aware of his childhood, both the time he spent with his late mother and being informally recruited by Yondu Udonta. Early on in the film, Peter and the gang encounter a strange man and woman who take them to a magical planet where everything seems a bit too perfect. It is clear something isn’t quite right, and the story proceeds in a familiar manner. The generic plot has become indicative of studio mega productions, but that doesn’t mean these movies should continue to breeze by audiences by relying on looks.
Speaking of relying on looks, one of the more disappointing aspects of the film was Chris Pratt’s performance as Peter Quill. Pratt has perfected the comedic, lovable character type, and these aspects of Peter work well in the film. What falls short are the serious, heartfelt moments where Peter is supposed to be showing genuine emotion. The inability of Pratt to effectively convey these dramatic moments was a major miss for the film. However, where Pratt falls short, Michael Rooker shines. Rooker’s portrayal of the rough space pirate is funny while still hitting the emotional marks in a convincing manner. Yondu may be the best part of the entire movie and that’s a tough title to earn when you have to compete with the adorable Baby Groot.
Where “Guardians” shines the brightest is in its lighthearted tone and its ability to effectively use music for emotional cues. One of the greatest parts about James Gunn’s first “Guardians” film was how aware of itself it was and the fact that it wasn’t afraid to make some goofy jokes. The second film maintains these elements and is able to deliver laugh after laugh with ease. Though the tone is spot on with its levity, the star of the show is the soundtrack. “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” is reminiscent of the first with its throwback to classic rock and soul. While viewing the second “Guardians,” it’s easy to get lost in the music and find oneself bobbing their head to a song or maybe even dancing in their chair (I’m guilty of both). The best music moment comes at the very end of the film right before the credits role. Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” perfectly summarizes the movie. Providing the audience with a feeling of earnestness and an understanding of what the movie was trying to say.
It isn’t easy living up to the hype, but that doesn’t mean “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” isn’t worth a watch. The movie was immensely fun with a small dose of sincerity. With a carefully curated soundtrack, plucked straight out of your parents’ record collection, and beautiful images to boot, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a pretty good start to the official summer blockbuster season.