Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s both a description, and a pretty good indicator of whether or not you’ll like this movie.
It features a slamming retro soundtrack, a lot of explosions and impressive special effects, and plenty of humor, that comes from well-written characters interacting together.
Basically, if you like Guardians of the Galaxy and you want more of that general thing, you’ll like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. It’s a pretty solid, safe, standard continuation of the initial formula.
If, on the other hand, you were hoping for the same kind of big, surprising, mindblowing experience that you got with the first Guardians film, you might need to reign in your anticipation a bit.
James Gunn can’t pull the same trick twice. This time around, the quirks that made Guardians so unique are not only a proven formula, but they’ve been aped and copied by pretty much every movie studio that’s managed to squeeze out a film in the past three years.
We’ve had lots of Chris Pratt in other properties, so it’s hardly a surprise to see a Parks and Rec alum as an action star.
Suicide Squad tried to piggyback on the trend for fun pop songs in a comic book movie, so that’s not exactly a novel concept anymore either.
A lot of great ideas from the first Guardians have stopped being novelties anymore, so this movie isn’t quite as fresh and unexpectedly brilliant as the first film.
That’s not to say this isn’t a good movie. Guardians 2 is a very enjoyable experience. It’s just not he Second Coming of James Gunn, and it’s hardly in the same league as sequels such as Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight, which improve upon their originals to such an extent that they surpass the reputation of what’s come before.
The problem here is probably that Marvel doesn’t approach movies as single statements anymore. Every new movie is part of a larger whole, and by this point, the MCU is essentially the world’s most expensive television series, rather than a collection of stellar movies that are capable of holding their own without leaning on each other for narrative support.
It's hard to say what a Marvel newcomer might make of Guardians 2 – it’s probably not a hugely accessible movie if you’re not up to speed on what happened in the first movie, although to its credit, a lot of the characters are so well written that you don’t necessarily need to know their extensive backstories to get what’s going on.
Don’t expect to be blown away in the same way that you were by the first movie. Marvel has deliberately played it safe here, and that’s perfectly fine, but in all fairness, this is more of an Age of Ultron than a Winter Soldier in terms of how fondly people will remember this film in years to come.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is more of the same, and if you’re happy to accept it as being a fun way to spend two hours, and you’re willing to buy into Marvel’s continually expanding serial movie universe, you’ll have a good time.