It pains me to say that if you liked this year’s Power Rangers (I did not), than you’ll really enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If you enjoy the Fast and Furious franchise (I know I do), then you’ll enjoy this film. If the combination of those two films makes you want to wait for this film to come on Netflix, do it. While it has the self-awareness and humor of its’ predecessor, this sequel is just another step in the ever widening pyramid that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We find the Guardians protecting batteries for an elite group of beings in the opening scene. The scene encapsulates the fun that we’ve come to like with baby Groot dancing in the midst of danger. Director James Gunn keeps us focused on Groot without letting us know what’s really happening in the fight. Gunn nails his vision and direction in this film, but traded his effort in the writing. Just as quickly as the Guardians become heroes, they have the same group of elite beings chasing them through the galaxy. Thus, the film takes off.
Family is the tie that binds the movie together much like the Fast and Furious. Whether the Guardians are dealing with blood relatives, or their own makeshift family, they each have to learn what family is all about. The cast has great chemistry and it comes through in the film but more so when they're fighting and taking jabs at each other. Seeing them learn the true meaning of family in the midst of saving the galaxy from insurmountable odds is the part that’s tough to swallow. You can easily visualize the index cards mapped on the writer’s room board with each character, what they should learn in this installment, and lines connecting them to the points in the film where it should happen.
The problem with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is that it feels like re-hashed soap opera storylines set to a decent soundtrack and beautiful visuals. It has the son who finally finds his long lost father, the sibling rivalry so strong that they’re enemies...except they love each other deep down, a character who tries to protect his own heart by keeping people at a distance by being a jerk, and so on. The movie is full of moments that should make you tear up or feel good inside, but they feel forced and designed, much like Power Rangers.
Basically, this film wants to ride the successful formula of Vol. 1 but doesn’t want to put in the real work to make it great. So while the film was entertaining and a break from the real world for me, it couldn’t stop me from checking my watch. Sure, it did its job in expanding the MCU, but this was a bland installment. I dare someone to tell me this doesn’t look like The Expendables 6 with its cameos and characters at points in the movie! Stay to the end of the movie for the multiple credit scenes, but you could also just stay home this weekend.