AngelsArcanum’s review published on Letterboxd:
Even for Marvel this is a REAL stretch, pretty pathetic excuse for a film, this is like the distilled essence of their workmanlike and lazy ethos of "filmmaking".
The whole "story" is kicked off by some shallow little incident of Rocket stealing some special batteries from this sovereign group they just assisted because "reasons" (namely money), and that leads to them being chased down by their entire fleet, only to coincidentally be saved by Quill's dad out of the blue, immediately wiping out all of them when they were just about to die. So much for a great escape.
They crash land on some planet to have Rocket fix the ship while Quinn goes off to his dad's planet, yadda yadda, elsewhere, Yondu gets into some vague argument with other bounty hunters like Sylvester Stallone, they yell about some shit, whatever, the sovereign people then hire Yondu to take down the Guardians for the battery incident, they invade the planet they are on, then Nebula, (Gamora's sister who was the reward from the sovereigns) having tried to manipulate the crew to let her go finally succeeds when Groot just lets her go because "hey, Groot is stupid". Like, these plot contrivances aren't endearing, this is just shoddy storytelling.
She breaks loose, shows up when Yondu's crew finds Rocket and fuels the seeds of mutiny and distrust that was beginning to take shape in Yondu's group and convinces them to overthrow Yondu while she tags along to get revenge on her sister.
Meanwhile on Ego's (Quill's dad) planet, Ego just says some hullabaloo about being the manifestation of an entire planet, talks about him and Quill being immortal, try to bond over some stuff, but nothing really happens on their end, and the only source of conflict seems to be from Nebula breaking loose and trying to get vengeance, but the film doesn't give her much of an imposing threat or presence as it instead takes its sweet time with Rocket and Yondu being locked up and trying to break out, which they eventually do, only to go on a killing spree instead of trying to reconcile with his old allies, because, of course, Marvel isn't good with words and prefers lots of violence (as evident with Civil War).
Gomorah becomes suspicious of Ego while Quill and him are bonding, saying it's just a "feeling", and soon after, Nebula shows up and hamfistedly tries to explain her relevancy to the story and why she matters since the film didn't really give her many motivations or a dangerous aura, so instead we get: "waaah, I have family issues too, daddy made me fight my sister and would replace my organic parts with robotic ones each time I'd lose, so now I'm mad at my sister." But coupled with the obviously suspect secrets Mantis kept keeping about Ego (avoided solely through the director switching to Rocket's side to get away from the subject instead of actually putting the characters' suspicions to rest) their bickering is put on hold because they find out *gasp* Ego is a bad guy after all!
I was actually thinking the film might go the high route and make the biological father be a good guy for a change seeing how Quill's hypothesis about Yondu's reason for keeping him was proved to be 100% correct as he almost verbatim explains those reasons to Rocket, so he was a bit of a jerk, but of course, the film does that old cliche "externally tough, unfeeling guy is actually a softie deep down and vice-versa" and Yondu in raising Quill for all these years never bothered to be straight about it. Just stop with that cheap bullshit. I've seen reveals like this a million times before, and this one especially is borderline illogical and I really hate that it is just some cheap manipulation for the narrative, just fuck off.
Of course, as you'd expect, Yondu has to be magically redeemed by one flimsy confession and opening up to Quill to soften up the viewer before he can die right after and it will all be framed as tragic, this is just really easy, almost evil emotional pull, with a story where so little happens and they suddenly just cram pretty much all of Yondu's hidden good qualities right until the end to make you sad is just disgusting.
There's more incidental stuff like a poor sort of Chekhov's Gun where the batteries Rocket stole and he kept were the only thing powerful enough to blow up Ego's core, tons of YELLING for EVERYTHING and people just being overly aggressive all the time, the sequel teaser which is again based on the sovereigns wanting revenge on the guardians (again, because Rocket is a dickweed), the dearth of set pieces, and even fewer ones that are actually satisfying or have much for stakes and a potentially staggering sequence of Quinn and Ego doing battle with seemingly boundless power and creation abilities that would add some visual flair to capture some emotional gravitas in their personal battle, which, to them would feel larger than life, but is shot with too much shaky-cam, debris cluttering the frame, little raw emotion and a really stupid gag to awkwardly undermine the entire thing.
Meanwhile, Gamorah was able to have SOME resolution with her sister at the end, but why did it have to wait until after nearly 2 movies to do it when she was already in the original and they could've tackled that earlier then? Goes to show Marvel's "fantastic" foresight for their cinematic universe and putting us through some over 2 hour slog of nothing for some trite family values spiel done elsewhere better many other times with more to their plots which also could've been covered as part of the first film.
There's also Stallone and some of the other seemingly endless bounty hunters (seeing how so many had been killed earlier) show up and pay their respects saying Yondu was a good man after all, but I still think he was largely a petty asshole, especially with slaughtering all his deserters and whatnot, even if they were being a little jerkish at times too, but with that said, this film TRIES to have SOME morals, so I'll give it a bit of credit. That and some of the visuals and Bautista as Drax having the odd moment of decent comic relief salvaged the film, but otherwise, bleck.
I'm part of the group of people cynical about superhero movies (especially Marvel) but I'm still a pretty lenient, forgiving person, and seeing some of the flamboyant visuals and energy along with thinking the first film was alright, I was willing to give it a go, but now I think I can safely say I won't be seeing the next one.