Writer and director James Gunn is back with another round of Guardians, and while I didn't think Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 was a bad movie, I did feel Gunn went a little overboard trying to be funny. So much so I thought it took away from the overall story and at times had the movie bordering on corniness. I know the Guardians movies are supposed to be a bit more lighthearted than most Marvel movies, but - unlike the first movie which I thought had a nice balance between the comedic moments and the overall story - I felt this one took things a little too far. That said, this movie definitely had good moments that will make you laugh, such as when Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) receives a Zune to replace his Walkman as the most modern device Earth people use to store and listen to their music on. For those who actually remember what a Zune is, I think you will find that scene pretty funny. Also, there are a number of 80's references including the appearances of a certain yellow chomping pixelated character and the Hoff himself that will have you rolling.
The basic premise of this movie revolves around Star-Lord discovering who his real father is, a revelation of cosmic proportions. Even though the identity of Star-Lord's father is one of the Internet's worst kept secrets and the identity is revealed in the opening scene of the movie, I won't give it away here in the review. After that revelation, the movie immediately goes into an action/comedic scene where the Guardians take on a giant space creature while Kid Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) jams to some tunes Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) set up for Star-Lord. This basically sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Oh and their some strange gold people named the Sovereign who pop up periodically throughout the movie, which were more of an annoyance to both the Guardians and the audience than anything else. It's possible they could play an important role down the road, but in this film I was just wishing they would go away.
While the movie was heavy on humor - in that Guardians of the Galaxy way - it also explored the meaning of family as Star-Lord and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) re-examined relationships in their lives. Star-Lord's father fills a hole in his life - at least at first. Their interactions lead Star-Lord to look at what he perceives as family with the Guardians and even Yondu (Michael Rooker), who I thought was one of the best characters in the movie. Similarly, Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) reveal new information about their childhood interactions and their relationship with Thanos, who is only mentioned in this movie by name.
I was most disappointed with how little this movie advanced the overall franchise story. If you're looking for developments on Thanos or indications of how the Guardians will end up joining the Avengers in next year's Infinity War, expect to be disappointed. The movie appeared to be more self-contained than part of an overall franchise, which for me personally was a bit disappointing.
But references and set-ups for upcoming Guardians movies were abound. If you are into Marvel cosmic characters, this movie will have a lot for you to chew on. You also will want to stay through the ending credits for a total of five after-credit scenes. Two are simply comic relief, one is comic relief but sheds light on things from previous Marvel movies, and two set up future events - one for a future Guardians movie and possibly one for the Infinity War.
Special effects (especially if you see the movie in 3D IMAX) should dazzle you, and the soundtrack is the one thing I think surpasses the first film.
Overall I liked this movie, but felt the first Guardians did a better job of balancing the humor, action and overall plot. You will definitely laugh at times, and maybe even cry, but you may also feel the story was sacrificed a bit in favor of cuteness and humor, at least that is how I came out of the theater feeling.