Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - SPOILER-FREE Review

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Directed by: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell

Runtime: 137 min

After the huge success of the first film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team's adventures, being "family" the main thread of this film.

The Guardians fight to protect each other while Peter Quill / Star-Lord(Chris Pratt) learns the mysteries of his lineage and characters (new and old ones) from the comics show up for the delight of the fans.

The first installment of this saga was one of the biggest surprises of 2014. Its hilarious jokes and the visually mind-blowing action scenes plus a cast full of chemistry elevated a movie with a simple superhero plot to one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

GOTG Vol. 2 is pretty much the same, but with some family issues. I'll answer the question that everyone has on their minds: "is it better than the first one?" ... No. Honestly, I think the former is far better. Not that this one is bad (it isn't), but one of the main reasons the first film was successful was because everything was new and different. They used the more dramatic and suspenseful moments that we've seen over and over again in every single movie ever made and placed a comic relief moment in the middle or at the end of the scene. Even if the joke didn't land, it was still so original that most people really enjoyed the movie.

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The humor is as hilariously great as in the first film. Some jokes are indeed pushed too far and it ruins some scenes that could have received a better tone to it. Most of the comedy is successful mainly due to the incredible cast. Once again, Chris Pratt nails it, not only as the funny guy, but in the dramatic scenes he's compelling as well. Zoe Saldana (Gamora) and Karen Gillan (Nebula) have a lot of screen time together and, while the former really delivers, the latter ...  delivers too much, she overacts most of her scenes and that kind of threw me off.

However, believe it or not, the real star of this film is Yondu (Michael Rooker). This character has so much development throughout the movie and it's a joy to watch Rooker's amazing performance. As expected, the relationship between Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) is adorably funny and Dave Bautista (Drax) keeps surprising me (definitely the best wrestler-to-actor transition since Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).

As for final praises, the soundtrack is great once again (even if some of the choices are clearly some plot points), the action sequences are good enough and the visuals are amazingly stunning.

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These are the things that I (and most fans, I guess) expected, so until here I'm pretty much fine with the movie. The problem is that this second installment has a lot more issues than the first one ... For the first hour-ish, I spent the whole time thinking "is this going somewhere? Who's the villain? Is there a villain? Why do I feel bored? This joke is still going on?". The aim of this film isn't quite clear until the second half of the film and once I get there, there are a lot of pacing issues and the story becomes uneven (even if it has some thrilling action scenes spread through it).

If you've seen the trailers, Kurt Russell (Ego) is in this movie and he's great as always, but the main story that the film follows (with Kurt and Chris being a big part of it) didn't captivate me that much because there are so many subplots involving the other characters that when all of it comes together, it doesn't connect very well. It's like the film couldn't figure out what to do with so many supporting characters, they're just ... There.

There's also this civilization that you can see in the trailers (they're all gold ... they're all painted gold for some reason) that work fine for the opening scene, but they keep showing up throughout the film and it's just another thing that bothered me. This is definitely the more "stand-alone" movie from the MCU's Phase Three. There isn't a single tie or set-up to another film from the universe and the fanboy in me wished that it had something on it (even the FIVE post-credits scenes don't show that much).

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Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn't better than the first one, but it stays true to my expectations. The whole movie is hilarious, the cast has an unbelievable chemistry and Michael Rooker steals the show from Chris Pratt, who also has a great performance. The visuals are stunning, the action set pieces are good and the soundtrack keeps being awesome. However, there are some issues: the pacing is off, the comedy becomes forced, Karen Gillan is the worst part of the film, even if the Nebula-Gamora subplot is interesting, and the main story isn't as captivating as it should be since the supporting characters are terribly misused.

|  A+  : 9.3-10 |  A : 8.7-9.2 |  A-  : 8.0-8.6 |  B+  : 7.3-7.9 |  B : 6.7-7.2 |  B-  : 6.0-6.6 ||  C+  : 5.3-5.9 |  C : 4.7-5.2 |  C-  : 4.0-4.6 |  D+  : 3.3-3.9 |  D : 2.7-3.2 |  D-  : 2.0-2.6 |  F : 0-1.9 |

| A+ : 9.3-10 | A: 8.7-9.2 | A- : 8.0-8.6 | B+ : 7.3-7.9 | B: 6.7-7.2 | B- : 6.0-6.6 || C+ : 5.3-5.9 | C: 4.7-5.2 | C- : 4.0-4.6 | D+ : 3.3-3.9 | D: 2.7-3.2 | D- : 2.0-2.6 | F: 0-1.9 |