Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm when it released back in 2014, and nobody expected that from this little-known comic book license would emerge one of Marvel's finest films, but that's what happened. Guardians of the Galaxy was well-received by critics and viewers alike, in the process becoming a box office hit, combining a light mood with amazing special effects, science fiction, and a roster of characters that quickly won the hearts of many.
With the same cast confirmed for the upcoming Marvel films, specifically for the next two Avengers movies, it was decided that a new standalone Guardians film had to be released before Marvel's end-game. The goal was to repeat what made the first so special, so Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has more jokes, better special effects, and more spaceships on screen, but is it a better film? Not really.
Without spoiling the plot, the focus of this film is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his mysterious father, but there are several parallel stories at play, such as the relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), the unexpected connection between Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Yondu (Michael Rooker), and the hilarious interaction between Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
Although some relevant events unfold, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn't really add anything meaningful to the larger Marvel universe. We know that the Guardians will appear in the upcoming Avengers films (maybe even in Thor: Ragnarok?), but there's nothing here that looks in that direction, not even in the several after-credits scenes. Director James Gunn focuses only on the Guardians here, and when the film is over, everything is mostly the same in terms of the group dynamic. It's an inconsequential story, then, albeit still a fun one.
The film is full of jokes and humour (more so than in the first film), and although some don't work or become overused, there are many that succeed. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is also a film with a lot of CGI, maybe even more than Dr. Strange and the original Guardians, which means that there are a lot of CGI landscapes and effects, but without major real backdrops to balance things out, the CGI sometimes feels excessive, which ends up breaking some immersion and credibility.
The group dynamic, however, continues to be fantastic, although it's mostly more of the same of what we saw in the original. The actors were great once again in their roles, even though not all of them have the same degree of relevance in the film compared to the first, as the focus on Peter Quill and his relationship with his father takes centre stage.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun film, but while the original is one of Marvel's best, this sequel simply isn't as good. It's a film that adds little to the big picture of Marvel's cinematic universe, and if for some reason you end up missing it, you won't be missing much ahead of the next round of films.