Film review: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – Does lightning strike twice?

To say 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit is a slight understatement. Many had predicted Marvel’s gamble to sink the studio with its unknown characters and very unique sense of style, but it ended up being one of the year’s best films grossing nearly $800million.

Three years on, director James Gunn returns with the plucky group of space stars. But can lightning strike twice? Or have the Guardians had their time to shine?

Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) struggle to keep their newfound family together as they desperately try to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy.

To our cast of space vigilantes, James Gunn has thrown in a few new personas and fleshed out some secondary characters, resulting in a film that rivals Avengers: Age of Ultron for the amount of people jostling for screen-time. Unfortunately, Volume 2 also suffers from many of the same problems as its earthly stablemate.

The biggest joy of watching Guardians 2 is seeing those secondary characters getting their chance in the spotlight. In particular, Michael Rooker’s Yondu makes a massive impact throughout the running time and is a highlight throughout. Elsewhere, Karen Gillan’s villainous Nebula gets a similar treatment, though not quite to the same extent.

Moreover, the team we have all come to know and love is on fine form, even if they are split from one another for the majority of the film. Chris Pratt is probably the biggest star in Hollywood at the moment and he looks like he’s having the time of his life. However, it’s not Star Lord that shines brightest this time around. That honour goes to Dave Bautista’s Drax.

The addition of Kurt Russell as Pratt’s father, Ego is an ingenious piece of casting and his ‘pet’ Mantis, played wonderfully by Pom Klementieff steals the show in every scene. Her brief moments with Bautista are where the film really succeeds.

Another witty script crafted by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman ensures that Guardians 2 is absolutely hilarious. Some of the one-liners are absolute corkers and it often outdoes its predecessor, raising the bar very high for future Marvel projects in the process.

To look at, Volume 2 is pleasant if unspectacular. Colourful? Yes. Detailed? Not so much. With so much going on at once, it’s easy for the film to feel overwhelmed with some of the CGI being downright poor. The opening scene in which our heroes battle a hideous octopus-like beast, whilst fun to watch, isn’t crafted to the same level as its predecessor’s introductory sequence. The finale is a little anti-climactic, unfortunately falling into the same pitfalls that so many big blockbusters do nowadays – needless and frankly ugly CGI.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 is another accomplished film in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, like Avengers: Age of Ultron, it suffers from its predecessor’s popularity and is overstuffed with too many characters elbowing for screen-time.

Unfortunately, the new approach the first film took has disappeared a little this time around. Because Volume 1 was such a delightful change from the rest of the crowd-pleasing blockbusters, Guardians 2 was bound to be a bit of a disappointment.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 rating: 7/10