feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
The original Guardians of the Galaxy was a near perfect portrait of the origins of Marvel Studios’ first wild card, hilarious to the brim and filled at almost every corner with personality, bringing life to what can be argued is a methodical and unshackled filmography. Expectations were certainly high for this sequel, but I figured that under the helm of James Gunn that to meet such standards would be effortless, bested even. Unfortunately, that was far from the case.
In the first film, it was emphasised of the clashing personalities of its five anti-heroes, each with their own agenda, led by the film’s McGuffin, the “orb”, in which in their possession could either bring them riches or danger. It was a journey that emphasises the natural gelling of these individuals into a singular unit in order to stop the grand threat that lies before them. It was a narrative drive that made up for the studio’s usual route of epic danger against the face of civilisation, making the particular outcomes to be rewarding; by its end, I truly made a greater connection with the characters than I had with other Marvel films.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a sequel that seems to dwell on the thematic core of family and identity, with characters spending throughout the entire film reflecting their existence, value, and relationships. No doubt this is an ambitious feat, and if pulled off effectively, would bring forth another deeply rewarding experience by Gunn and the studio. It is to my disappointment that much of the energy, momentum, and grand scale has been completely reverted on its head, taking a far too much of a step back in its storytelling choices, diluting it with characterisation rather than action. I am all for a film focusing greatly on its characters, but this was a film that found an uneven balance that suffered the overall experience, feeling stunted in its pace as it demonstrates moments of interaction and reflection that never really brings forth anything rewarding.
The film managed to save itself through the trademark humour that littered its original film, pushing the boundaries slightly on the comedic punchlines, although don’t expect to break any moulds like Deadpool. Laughter is far more prevalent in this experience than I had with the original film, and much of it is due to the stronger awareness that Gunn has for Dave Bautista’s Drax, who undoubtedly won most of the reactions from the theatre. The other characters have their jokes to land here and there, but rarely do they generate the same outburst and gut-wrenching responses from the audience.
What else is there to say? The film is gorgeous, as expected from a Marvel Studios film. However, the film seems to have lost the formula that allowed the first film to thrive, and instead, we are left with a half-baked project that deserved far more than what it received.