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‘Guardians Vol. 2’ is fun, but redundant

The anticipated sequel to the quirky superhero hit holds few surprises, but it’s still funny

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This week, I finally got a chance to see a major motion picture before its release, that film being “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

It is, well, the sequelest sequel that ever sequeled.

While the film keeps the same sense of humor and fun as its predecessor, the second installment is essentially the same material, an overall inoffensive entry in the Marvel universe.

The plot is complicated, but the majority of it revolves around the Guardians meeting Star-Lord’s long-lost father, Ego (Kurt Russell). Returning are the familiar faces of Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot, as well as a smattering of other characters.

In certain respects, “Guardians Vol. 2” gets the sequel thing right. The first movie had a winning formula, especially in terms of tone, and writer/director James Gunn more or less sticks to this, keeping the quirky sense of humor and unflinching adherence to fun.

The main problem with “Guardians Vol. 2” is that there isn’t much new – and what’s new isn’t all that interesting.

While in the first film the charm of the Guardians was their sense of humor in the face of not just danger but humorless foes (and allies), in “Guardians Vol. 2” everyone is cracking jokes.

For example, a nice change of pace within the humor of the first film was that Drax (Dave Bautista) was merely incidentally funny – that is, we (and Quill and Rocket) mostly laughed at him, not with him.

In “Guardians Vol. 2,” though, he’s cracking jokes – and so is Gamora’s sister, Nebula, and so is… well, everyone. And while this fits in terms of the development of some characters, it means almost every other line is some kind of quip, leaving the dialogue oversaturated.

Not much is new in terms of world-building, either. This is one kind of work an effective sequel can do – “John Wick: Chapter 2” unveiled much of the assassin underworld that was missing from the first film, so while much of the tone, plot, and action remained similar, there was still something to drive interest.

This isn’t really true of “Guardians Vol. 2.” We meet Quill’s father, we meet another Guardian (Mantis), and we see Ego’s home planet, which is… well, it’s just kind of colorful.

But this is more or less the extent of it – and in case you couldn’t tell by my openly mentioning it, there’s no suspense in meeting Quill’s father, as he shows up early on.

The film also borders on gratuitous at times with the sheer volume of referential humor – and while I’m on the subject, here’s where I need to soapbox: the Stan Lee cameo is the worst part of almost every Marvel movie.

It’s a distracting waste, and this time there’s even a second one at the very end of the film’s credits, a space generally reserved for something at least mildly interesting.

Still, I have to commend Gunn for reigning in the use of Baby Groot. While it would have been very easy to overuse him for cheap “Aww!” re-ations, he shows up just the right amount to still be entertaining (and yes, cute) by the end.

With the sheer volume of Marvel films out now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the studio to release memorable entries – like “Logan,” “The Avengers,” “Deadpool,” or the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” – that are wholly original and add nuance to the collection.

And while there’s not much wrong with this film, at the risk of sounding like I’m making a horrible pun, “Guardians Vol. 2” lacks gravity, adding little to the overall Marvel universe.

“Inoffensive” is probably the best descriptor for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” It will definitely please those who loved the first one, and it’s not a bad film overall – I certainly didn’t dislike it. But beyond that, it does little to challenge the audience.

As a final note, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who’s read my musings over the years, either regularly or sporadically. I appreciate your time, and I hope you might consider keeping tabs on me on social media, where I aim to be more active with reviews following my time with The Journal.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” rated PG-13, will be released on May 5. Like my reviews? Give me a shout on Twitter at @MovieMuseSean.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
‘Guardians Vol. 2’ is fun, but redundant