“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I like the way you say it.” is a good line, more for my review rather than that of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It summarises my thoughts on this piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather nicely, for I have no clue what this instalment of the franchise intends to be, but there is a part of me that enjoys it. Was this the rut? Or has it been a decade-long rut all along? The master con is not that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has nothing going on, but that this whole phase had no real impact or influence. What better to do when there is time to kill than bulk up some of the newer characters? It is better than doing nothing at all. That would, however, imply Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does anything.
Enjoying a power shift between Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 centres in on the arrogance of two butting heads. These moments will serve as the flimsy story that guides us through the strong soundtrack and celebrity-infested universe these guardians find themselves in. Peter meeting his father, Ego (Kurt Russell) has all the narrative complexities Marvel can manage. A lot of foreshadowing so James Gunn and his merry band of space pirates can focus on character dynamics and cruddy jokes make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a dull film indeed. But that should be expected. In the four or so years since its release, Father Time has not been pleasant to the works of Gunn, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is no exception.
Most of the issues come from the one-note newcomers. Taserface (Chris Sullivan) for instance, is the prime example of Marvel’s key audience. His joke is in the name, he riffs on it frequently and is a bad guy. That is all we need from this character for the few bad jokes to fly through. He presents both a threat and humour. Marvel would balance it well had they not ground down the joke with repetitive pangs of awful writing. Annoyingly poor at times, the repetition here proves that, to some degree, the key to comedy is not repetition or timing. According to Gunn’s work here, the key to comedy is infantile humour, swears and pop culture references that will get a cheap pop from the consumerist crowd. There isn’t much here that can really be revelled in as pushing the boundaries of what this lengthy series of films could do, nor is there a moment that inspires much hope for that ever happening.
What I remember most in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not for reasons of competency, but for glimmering flickers of colour. It is a colourful film, but aren’t all these products? Gunn overdoes it, but at least his soundtrack is masquerading the weaker components of a film that has surprisingly little going for it. Clean fun is the express intent of this piece, and that much it manages. At times, the cameo roles from former big names are a nice distraction, but should we be actively seeking distraction from this skewered story? Yes, we should, for it has all the sustenance of a light, nighttime snack. It will do little for so many, but, then, that is the strongest aspect of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a film that gets away with doing nothing in particular.