May 9, 2017 -- The Guardians of the Galaxy sequel tries mightily to match the original with strained humor and sentimentality, but, like most sequels, it falls short of matching the story quality of the original film. But, you have to hand it to the mighty Marvel Studios machine, which made this into a hit anyway. The only thing Marvel can't do, apparently, is work the same magic with the Fantastic Four.
What does work in this film is the appeal of the characters themselves and the chemistry those characters have while working together. Most of the same actors who appeared in the original film return for this one, and the chemistry is still there. In fact, of all the teams of actors in the insanely successful film franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Guardian team works the best, with the Ant-Man team a close second.
The team consists of three comic characters, Peter Quill/Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt), the sarcastic talking racoon, Rocket and the awkward tree-like Groot. Then there are two serious characters (like “straight men” in a comedy team) the literal-minded warrior, Drax (Dave Bautista) and fierce, conflicted warrior Gamora (Zoe Saldana). But fortunately, the best character in the first film, the enigmatic criminal Yondu (Michael Rooker), returns in this film to reveal more about himself.
Other returning characters who have expanded roles in this film are Gamora's sister, Nebula (played by Karen Gillan of “Dr. Who”) and Yondu's pirate officer, Kraglin (played by Sean Gunn, brother of the film's writer-director, James Gunn). Some new characters are introduced in this film, including Quill's enigmatic father, Ego (Kurt Russell of “Furious 7”) the empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and the bumbling pirate, Taserface (Chris Sullivan).
Once again, the Guardians have to save the galaxy from a megalomaniac, but this time, at least, it doesn't have anything to do with infinity stones (the multi-movie infinity stones subplots are building up to a culmination in the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War”). The story in this film is built around the past history of several characters, Quill, Ego, Yondu, Gamora and Nebula.
I found the plot not as tight as the first film, and the humor and sentimentality seemed a bit forced this time around. The internal logic of the plot is a bit loose, too, but you can't argue with the success of this movie. To me, what carries the film are the characters, and the way they interact. This film rates a C+.
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