Recently I offered an outpouring of love for James Gunn's surprisingly successful first installment, Guardians of the Galaxy, by labeling it as the best entry within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Needless to say, my anticipation for the franchise's second film was astronomical, something I haven't said about any sequel for quite some time. Yet, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 fails to advance the Marvel story with a dull and lifeless character examination of Peter Quill.
Daddy issues resurface as the mystery surrounding Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) biological father becomes quickly addressed. Kurt Russell co-stars as Ego, the mystery man who helped spawn Star-Lord, and he returns with a bit of surprising news. Ego is what's referred to as a celestial, a god-like being with immense powers, and he helps Peter recognize his own superior abilities as they slowly reconnect after decades apart.
As I have stated before, I am no purist to the Marvel comics. In fact, the MCU is merely a refreshing brand of comedic and action-packed superhero fodder that's managed to progress and expand fluidly into an unstoppable machine. However, GOTG Vol. 2 takes a step out of the natural progression and dives deep into its source material's influence. James Gunn uses a wide combination of both familiar characters and new ones, bolstering a lineup that comic book loyalists are sure to appreciate, in order to expand on Star-Lord's character rather than act as a proper stepping stone towards the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. While this approach isn't necessarily destined to fail all on its own, Peter Quill's lack of personal conflict in the third act butchers this entire game-plan. Moreover, the film's rampant attempts at comedic relief feel nowhere near as natural as its predecessor and, in conjunction with hokey dramatics and an irritatingly mind-numbing dose of Baby Groot, this sequel feels wildly off the mark. Marvel's typical formulaic approach is scrapped from James Gunn's latest work and, oddly enough, it leaves you longing for the cookie-cutter sequel. Simply stated, GOTG Vol. 2 feels twice as long and about half as good as the original.