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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

If you liked the first Guardians film, you’ll probably really enjoy this film. It shares the same sense of humour, cast of wacky characters and colourful space-based action sequences. The thing is, I hated the first film, and while this one is a slight improvement, it just reinforced my negative opinion of the first.

Volume 2 follows the continuing adventures of Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are on the run from the gold-covered Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and meet the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell), who is a figure from Star Lord’s past.

To be fair to this film, I went in with an open mind. I didn’t like Captain America: The First Avenger, but its sequel was a real breath of fresh air; maybe this sequel could do the same. However, even during the opening I could tell that this would just be more of the same.

The opening highlights the problem which plagues these films. It contains a fight with a space squid which was in all the trailers. They shoot this sequence in a very novel and imaginative way. Just when I thought that risks were being taken, this novelty was discarded, probably out of the fear that the audience might be challenged.

This film is filled with an emotional and creative immaturity which makes the whole thing seem utterly pointless. Emotional moments are not allowed to sit with us; instead they are swiftly thrown aside for another unfunny gag. It’s almost as if James Gunn, the writer/director, thinks that we, as the audience can’t handle anything of substance, as if colourful nonsense with no weight or meaning is all we want.

The problem is that certain members of the cast really want to sell this material. Chris Pratt (an actor I usually despise) is more charming and likeable than I’ve ever seen him, and if he wasn’t reciting from an awful script, I might care about his plight. It’s a telling thing when a character is crying from sadness and despair, and the audience is laughing.  Why should we carry on watching if every scene is undercut by jokes which range from toilet humour, to scatological, to jokes which were used in 1930s cartoons, and weren’t even funny then.

The cast struggle for the most part as the plot is simultaneously lacking and convoluted. This sounds like an oxymoron, but you could summarise this film in a sentence, while in the cinema it felt like wading through a mire of exposition and unfunny gags. Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan are even more boring than usual. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel return and contribute very little. The new additions include Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone. I admire both stars, but their roles are so poorly written that their only character traits are the two actors’ natural charm and gravitas.

I understand that people love these films. If you liked the first film, nothing I say will change that. You’ll see this one and it will probably be a slight disappointment. The story is much scrappier and less focused than the first, and this film doesn’t have the element of surprise like the first one did. However, I do despair a bit at the state of modern cinema. When imaginative, well-thought-through films such as Edge of Tomorrow, American Honey and Bone Tomahawk are pushed to the background for formulaic outings such as this, it does say something. Back when Spielberg was making incredible films such as Jaws, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park, blockbusters were holding a candle to the independent brilliance of the films of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. Nowadays, there is no Spielberg figure who is striving for the best films to be made. When TV is turning out series such as The People VS OJ Simpson, Fargo and Happy Valley, programmes which feel like individual, special projects, why are we settling for films which feel like enormously-budgeted fillers?

I know a lot of you will disagree but maybe if we stopped going to see these films, we might get the films that we deserve.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is now in cinemas across the UK. Image source: Screenrant.com