Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★½

If Whedon is credited with infusing comedy in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (in reality one may argue that he laid the groundwork and the Russo Brothers are actually responsible for that), then James Gunn can shoulder the blame for taking that to its most testing extremes. Even more so than the first, VOL. 2 not only hasn't met a joke that it doesn't like, but it gives the impression that it hasn't found one that it thinks to be absolutely hysterical, at times bordering on DEADPOOL levels of insufferable in terms of the script.

But this is a superhero movie, so at least there's the action to fall back on; however, most of the big set piece moments fall flat. Instead, the strengths of the film are mostly found in the artistic direction, from the vibrant colors used both in the backgrounds and with the characters. And this translates to the more successful action bits, where huge space battles are cast aside for more inventive, insular moments of combat.

The cast is strong enough, with the exception of Sly who was maybe in the first film but I don't even know. Pratt is charismatic enough, continuing to pull a 'reverse Jonah Hill' with his career, but mostly just inoffensive. And the soundtrack is what one would expect it to be. Which makes so much of it feel boring, and removed. Which is fine, but there are just enough echoes of something larger that it makes me worry about what happens when Marvel's weakest franchise finally starts to interact directly with the upcoming Infinity War.