Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★

"Did you make a penis?"

You either die James Gunn or you live long enough to see yourself become...James Gunn?

I shouldn't play the blame game right out. I don't know if it was the studio giving Gunn Batman Returns level free reign over the project, or if it was Gunn getting all his toys taken and sanitised by the studio machine. Whatever it was, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels weirdly...hollow.

We return to our loveable group of rascals some time after the events of the first film. Remember the first film? Oh, don't worry. They'll remind you. The loveable Peter, the charming Gamora, the oddly irritating Rocket, the show stealing Drax and the infuriating Baby Groot are all here on another adventure that splits the team up and gives us what I can only describe as Empire Strikes Back meets Mamma Mia (but with papas) except pumped up on Skittles and energy drinks. The story is a mess, with some great stuff about family and Father/Son relationships lost in a swarm off TMSGO (Too Much Shit Going On).

The cast do a fine job in their parts. Kurt Russell does absolutely fine, giving us what is probably Marvel's best type of SPOILER character role yet. Michael Rooker gives what is probably the best performance in the movie, giving us plenty of subtlety and so forth. Chris Pratt actually struggles with some of the heavier stuff, screaming and making lines come off as awkward and often being let down by weak dialogue or (and this is probably the movie's greatest sin) a visual gag that ruins all dramatic tension (looking at you, David). The rest of the cast try and succeed, particularly Batista. There's also plenty of small roles given to notable Sci-Fi and B-List actors. Ben Browder is in there, and made me do a little squeal.

The direction from Gunn is a little mixed. You can almost tell which parts he enjoyed doing more than others. Digital trickery aside, his use of camera movement often feels limited other than the scene with Yondu and his arrow. In addition, you also get the sense that he favoured close-ups more than anything else. I think I've seen enough of Chris Pratt's minute facial details for a lifetime after this.

It's not all a mixed bag though. When the humour hits, it hits. When the emotions hit, they kinda hit. When the action comes, it's fun enough. The banter isn't the sharpest, but it works in the way only Guardians can work.

Is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a disaster? No, not at all. Is it great? Nup. What it is, is a fun but pretty flat time at the cinema. The characters grow a little, the story is problematic, the direction is mixed, the laughs are plentiful and the enjoyment is very much there. Check it out in the comfort of your home, this one is more of a rental than an IMAX must see.

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