Coming into 2017, one of the most anticipated films for the time was none other than the sequel to 2014’s surprise superhero hit, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, that anticipation and excitement for the then latest superhero flick proved out of order. Vol. 2 opened to a resounding 146 million opening weekend domestically, but was only able to stretch itself to a 389 million domestic haul, only 56 million ahead of its predecessor. Ultimately, it seemed that the sequel had not garnered the influx in audience that Feige and his fellow peers thought it would. This is due to the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an experience that may have heavy doses of exciting action sequences but still falls short of mediocrity with its loud, distracting CGI, weak character banter, and an abundant focus on storytelling below more CGI-bloated action sequences.
Following my analysis essay, The Importance of the Screenplay and after a second viewing of this film, it has become abundantly clear that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features faults in nearly all three of the listed traits of a screenplay. First to mention should be the pacing. Kicking off with an exciting action sequence headlined by Baby Groot, the film begins in a spectacular fashion, even if it is somewhat derivative of its predecessor. Regardless, the pacing continues to stride along until the characters literally crash into a forest, and unfortunately as of that moment, the film crashes alongside them. In the later scenes following the enjoyable opening, the audience is introduced to several new characters, including Kurt Russell’s character. But in all of these sequences leading up to a CGI-bloated third act, there is little attempt to justify the weak character banter. The banter and relations between characters in this film is a major step down from what Gunn achieved in its predecessor. Every time when a character would argue with another character, there is no sense of gravity or humor to the situation. It feels stale and is the single reason how the film grinds to a halt until the next action sequence.
However, in relation to other films with weak screenplays, Vol. 2 illustrates the proper form or layout of an enjoyable screenplay, but fails on its execution. The film attempts to place as much character banter in the film as possible, but ultimately comes off as a weak attempt to develop the characters of the film. It makes the whole experience feel incoherent as it bounces between set pieces with a lack of deep characterization outside of a brilliant sequence between Michael Rooker’s Yondu and Rocket. While the pacing ultimately feels like the weakest aspect in the screenplay, there are still certainly some redeemable aspects. As mentioned before, the dynamic between Yondu and Rocket was well done and easily the strongest aspect of the whole film. In addition, the character of Yondu in the film was portrayed excellently and was a clear stand-out, when compared to the laughable Ayesha, high priestess of the Sovereign and serves as one of the worst villains in the MCU to date. As for the primary villain of the film, whose name will be left out this review due to spoilers, the character is ultimately a mixed bag. On one hand, the character has some enjoyable lines, but on the other, misses the opportunity to create a critical emotional relationship with one of the film’s leads. The relationship, arguably one of the most emphasized aspects of the film, feels nothing more than a cheap attempt to bring emotion in a film where dry, repetitive humor is littered throughout.
As for the performances which try to lift and personify the screenplay onto the screen with their characters, they are certainly a mixed bag, similar to the screenplay itself. On the positive side, actor Michael Rooker delivers a heartfelt and driving performance in the film. He steals every scene he is in and is easily the best performance in the entire film. In addition, Bradley Copper as Rocket does a magnificent job, delivering dry humor with a balanced dose of emotion and flair. However, those two performances are the only quality ones in the film. Chris Pratt as Star-Lord appears to be trying too hard to deliver jokes that weren’t funny to begin with. His attempts come off as cheap and unwieldy, adjectives that disgrace what he achieved with the character in the 2014 predecessor. Zoe Saldana continues to be a clichéd and uninteresting character that never justifies her existence outside of serving as a necessary love interest for the lead protagonist. However, the weakest performance of the film is easily Dave Bautista as Drax, an utter shame considering the raw terror that the character was able to infuse in the predecessor. Instead of building on his character with interesting developments and dialogue, Gunn opts for a more humor-centric approach and eliminates who the character is and instead replaces that with a bumbling, stubborn idiot who is constantly churning out situational humor.
As for the two new characters, Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Kurt Russell’s character, they both do serviceable jobs in their somewhat minimalist roles.
When it comes to the action sequences of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, they are ultimately the reason or purpose of the film. Each scene seems to lead towards another set piece and is never takes a minimalist approach to its eye-pleasing sci-fi spectacle. While the action sequences are exciting from time to time, heightened by the excellent soundtrack, the other set pieces feel both ludicrous and bloated. They often feel out of place and only placed in the film to keep the audience from feeling bored with the weak screenplay. While their inclusion was necessary for the film to appeal to casual foreign and domestic audiences, I wish Gunn had the boldness to take a more minimalist approach to the action sequences rather than taking the expected blockbuster route of action over substance.
Ultimately, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a disappointing ride that will leave fans unhappy with the sequel to one of the greatest Marvel films. By focusing on CGI-bloated action sequences over proper storytelling, by focusing on a cheap laugh over a compelling character, Vol. 2 unfortunately becomes one of the films that reeks of a lack of understanding for the importance of the screenplay.
Score: 5.3 out of 10
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" continues the team's adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes' aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.