A rag-tag bands of space-mercenaries rattles around the galaxy. They take dirty jobs for low pay and stay mostly one step ahead of the law/various people who want to kill them.
Peter Quill, also known as Star Lord, wants to find his father. Others in the gang which to survive/profit, or have no particular motivation. They travel from planet to planet fighting humanoid aliens with different-coloured skin and non-humanoid aliens with large teeth.
I really liked the first Guardians of the Galaxy – it was fresh, polished, affecting. Regrettably, while this sequel is competent, it’s missing a lot of the charm and heart. As a film, it’s fine, but it’s just Marvel going through the motions, applying a formula that works, but without a good understanding of what made the first film interesting.
The plot doesn’t really exist until the end of the film. While there are conflicts and drives that could be used as the plot earlier on, the majority of the film is simply a sequence of chronological events. No one really strives for anything, and the eventual villain/problem presents itself to the unwitting characters directly, rather than being something that they deliberately seek out. It’s an odd move for Marvel, particularly for a film which follows the formula in other respects.
This is definitely more of a comedy film than an action one, but it has an action film’s big set-piece resolution. That’s a problem, because it means that when you are meant to be feeling pathos or rage, there’s nothing there – the characters spent all of their time quipping instead of building solid ground to feel for them, and final sacrifices and reconciliations feel tacked on. The humour is adolescent, which is fine for a children’s film, but what you ideally get in such a film is a second layer of more complex humour, and that’s missing here.
There are some things to like about this film. It’s visually appealing, with modern CGI creating exciting new planets and spaceships. I love the setting, and think that more films should do space opera. We get tantalising glimpses of various planets and societies, all with their own exciting technologies. I’m pleased to see a non-Star Wars big budget sci-fi film that takes such a large, galaxy-spanning scope.
Overall, I found this disappointing. It’s not funny enough to be a good comedy, and not exciting enough to play it straight. It’s got all of the bits that made up the previous film, but none of the heart, and occasionally comes across as a little desperate, dialling everything up to 11 in an effort to capture the appeal of the first one. I get the impression that everyone tried very hard, and it’s stuffed with actors I have a lot of time for, but in the end it falls flat.