Star-studded, but low on zing: Review of Guardians Vol 2 by Rashid Irani
What a surprising delight it was when this ragtag band of intergalactic adventurers first hit the screens three years ago. Based on a relatively obscure Marvel comic book series, Guardians of the Galaxy nonetheless turned out to be a box office winner.
Unfortunately, history isn’t likely to repeat itself with the second installment.
Tasked with saving the universe once again, the original quintet — a spacefarer (Chris Pratt), an emerald-skinned warrior (Zoe Saldana), a deadpan hulk (man-mountain Dave Bautista), a kleptomaniac raccoon (voiced to perfection by Bradley Cooper) and a vocabulary-challenged treeoid (Vin Diesel) — is back.
There are plenty of new characters too, including a golden-hued leader of an alien race (Elizabeth Debicki), a celestial being with a hidden agenda (Kurt Russell) and his protégé (Pom Klementieff), an empath who sports a pair of antennae on her forehead.
In what amounts to a glorified cameo, Sylvester Stallone fetches up as an interstellar mercenary. It’s the first time he and Kurt Russell are in the same film since Tango & Cash (1989), but anyone expecting sparks will be sorely disappointed.
Amid relentless mayhem and 3D gimmickry, there are occasional moments of goofball humour, mainly involving the sentient sapling who can still only say ‘I am Groot’.
Returning writer-director James Gunn relies on vintage ballads, once again, to set the beat. Expect snatches of songs by Fleetwood Mac and Cat Stevens; the appropriately titled ‘Awesome Mixtape’ even features a rap tune by Baywatch heartthrob David Hasselhoff.
Given extended roles in the sequel, both Michael Rooker (former bounty hunter-turned-ally) and Karen Gillan (the aggrieved adoptive sister) are the ensemble standouts.
Overall, though, Vol 2 suffers from blockbuster bloat. Hopefully the next installment, hinted at plentifully in the end credits, will recapture the fun-fuelled zing of the original.
Watch the trailer here