Even though this follow-up to the 2014 surprise smash is a bit of a dud, Marvel's unstoppable hit machine is not going to be derailed by its 15th chapter, a hotly anticipated sequel that falters more than not. And to be fair, there is probably just enough of The Awesome in GOTGV2 to keep the all-important fanboy base satisfied. Unfortunately, though, despite some moments of true inspiration, writer/director James Gunn's creation appears to be inspired more by the over-confidence that can sometimes come with a blockbuster, as opposed to the self-control that comes with simple confidence.
Hey, it's Friday and Fridays are awesome, so let's start with the good stuff…
Y'all remember the Time In a Bottle scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the scene with Quicksilver set to that marvelous Jim Croce ballad? GOTGV2 has one of those, a marvel of a sequence set to Jay and the Americans' spectacularly infectious Come a Little Bit Closer. There are also a few pretty big laughs thanks primarily to Drax (David Bautista) and his famous inability to filter-out all things inappropriate. A surprising and welcome source delivers the story's heart, Michael Rooker's Yondu, who, for my money, steals the movie. Oh, and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is adorable, just shy of cloying.
The problem are those long moments of tedium in-between. Yes, tedium. The story just isn't very good, nor is it involving, and an interminable hour passes before we really know why we are even here. At 136 minutes, GOTGV2 is 15 minutes longer than its predecessor, which itself could have easily lost 10 minutes, and you feel every one of them.
In an inspired bit of casting, Kurt Russell (looking a lot like Neptune) plays Ego, father to our hero Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). Ego has been searching a long, long, long time for his son and is now eager to bond and have a game of catch. On the run from an uppity race of vengeful snobs called the Sovereigns (they're reminiscent of our own Social Justice Warriors: easily offended supremacists prone to violence), Star-Lord and his gang of galaxy guardians are more than happy to accept Ego's invitation to spend a little time hiding out on his Eden-like planet.
Russell is, as you would expect, superb in his role. He brings zest and commitment, even to heaping paragraphs of exposition. Making you long for the days when an irreverent action movie could clock in at 100 minutes, Russell's Tango and Cash (1989) partner Sylvester Stallone has also been hired to deliver a whole lot of exposition (and, we assume, take a larger role in the inevitable Vol. 3).
The theme at work here is "family," which hits the mark with a whole lot more competence in Vin Diesel's other franchise, The Fast and the Furious. You see, GOTGV2 wants it both ways, to be irreverent, to be a finger in the eye to all those other comic book flicks, and then it wants to be just like the others by having an admirably unsentimental character like Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) put a lump in your throat because his character arc requires he reveal his true heart, which is made of pure gold.
Yeah, no thanks.
Another mistake is sidelining Pratt for 100 minutes as he works through his Daddy Issues. Oh, and Gamora (Zoe Saldana, who could use a sandwich) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillian) also work through their own Daddy Issues. And around all of them, things just happen, usually for stupid reasons just to make them happen, like Rocket stealing those batteries.
The first half is filled with countless scenes that go on waaaay too long. After the information necessary to push the story forward is delivered, and just when you think the plot is going to move, everything stops so Gunn can get his irreverence on, which is rarely worth the death of momentum.
The third act's talking planet that sprouts giant pillars of stone might give some of you flashbacks to a better movie, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989). Yes, I just said that.
Like all Marvel movies, GOTGV2 offers up a post-credits scene.
Oh, wait, there are actually FIVE post-credits scenes.
Count 'em, FIVE, and only two are any good. And that sorry batting average combined with the bloat -- which has you slumping instead of skipping out the door wishing for more, perfectly sums up the entire experience.