CAUTION: May contain MINOR spoilers if you are a comic book geek.  If you aren’t you have zero to worry about…

I loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy film pretty much from beginning to its very, very end (HOWARD THE DUCK!).  The film made me damn happy and it was quite a different film then what Marvel had done before.  From the previews all the way until the film told me the Guardians of the Galaxy would return I was pretty happy.

The sequel?  I thought the marketing was decent but I knew this was not the story I was looking for.  Baby Groot?  I mean it was cute that Groot survived the first film and was this little baby, sure.  But now there’s an entire film where he is this Baby Groot?  Why?  For what reason?  To be humorous?  Possibly.  I mean this is a movie featuring a walking tree, a killer raccoon, 2 aliens, and a human on a spaceship so maybe I shouldn’t be so judgmental?  But then again…I felt like something was missing.

So I sat down and watched the credits.  Everyone is back playing the same roles.  Oooh there’s Kurt Russell!  And Sly Stallone?  Neat!  I watched the credits all the way through when the director credit, the last to come up, finally arrived.  Written and Directed by Sean Gunn.

I knew what was missing.  One woman: Nicole Perlman.

Who is Nicole Perlman?  Probably the one person who made the first film happen.  The woman who plucked the Guardians of the Galaxy from obscurity and wrote a screenplay about them.  James Gunn came along to direct and “James Gunned” the script – but it was Perlman who I really believe is the heart of the Guardians of the Galaxy team.  Would the sequel be a fun romp returning us to that galaxy far, far away.  Or would I be watching a mediocre throwback that tries too hard to be funny?  It is the latter.

Plot?  The plot is the Guardians are hired by Ayesha (aka Her aka Kismet if you know your comic books and/or your Wikipedia) to stop a creature from stealing batteries.  They stop the creature then Rocket steals the batteries.  A whole armada comes after the Guardians who then crash lands on a planet.

Then some guy arrives and says he’s Peter Quill’s father.  It’s Kurt Russell and he is playing Ego.  If you don’t know your comic book history it looks like Kurt Russell.  If you know your comic history you know that Ego is a living planet.

Anyway Peter Quill, Gamora, and Drax go with Ego to his planet.  Rocket stays behind with Baby Groot and the just captured Nebula (who the Guardians were briging to prison) when they are attacked by Yondu and the Ravager gang.

Then stuff happens…because movie.  And boring stuff happens because……….SHIT TONS OF FUCKING EXPOSITION.  What do you want from a space movie?  You want some fun shit to happen, right?  Well there’s lots of sitting around and talking in this film, so be prepared.  It’s peppered with action but hot damn…it so misses the mark.

This is the type of film that critics like because it isn’t Suicide Squad or Batman V Superman.  It’s colorful and there’s a ton of humor so it must be good.  But mark my words in a couple years people WILL look back at this movie and say that it really wasn’t that great.  I’m saying it now.  It is nowhere near as fun, as exciting, as lovable, as action packed, or as spectacular as the last film.  Not even close.

The worst part is the first act is pretty useless as it sets up what ultimately is a pretty bad plot.  There is a serious lack of a proper villain which is usually the case in most Marvel Studios film.  I mean I guess they aren’t facing off against some faceless army that is shooting something into the sky (the plot of most superhero films). SO I guess that’s a major positive.

So I think I’ll stick with the bad for a second.  First off Peter’s knowledge of Earth is pretty good considering he left as a little kid back in 1988.  I mean I remember my childhood pretty good as well.  I remember David Hasselhoff as Knight Rider because I grew up in America in the 80’s.  Peter Quill remembers Hasselhoff as a famous actor and singer.  But Hasselhoff’s first album came out in….1989.  It’s nitpicky shit I know but come on…does no one read these scripts before shooting them?

If you like pop culture don’t worry there’s plenty of it in this film with Quill constantly spouting shit about Pac-Man, Skeletor, and Heather Locklear.

Did I mention that they go to a planet and kind of just sit around?  Stand around?  Just sit there B.S.ing?  This is the space film sequel we all wanted!?!?!?

The good?  Well I was very happy to see that Taserface was one of the Reavers – who was a really fun character created by Jim Valentino during his Guardians comic run in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  It was also great to see Jim thanked at the end of the film.  Taserface was a damn fun character in this film and he was a welcomed addition.

The film also features Charlie-27, Martinex, Aleta, and Starhawk from the original Guardians crew.  No Vance Astro and no Nikki….but I’ll certainly take it.  Especially as those characters (Yondu included) are from the future in the comic books.  So I thought that was pretty great…never thought I’d see a live action version of Martinex.  He really looked great too.

The Watchers were in the film but if you don’t read the comic books you don’t get it.  You see these big bald guys and most moviegoers will go, “Who the fuck are they?”  No worries…they are there for comic book fans but are NEVER explained for people like my wife, my mom, or my kid who have never read a Marvel comic book in their life.

There’s a bit of Wrath of Khan AND Empire Strikes Back near the end of the film.  That I liked.

But let me turn that back around a bit.  Let’s say in the third act of Empire Strikes Back Luke confronts Vader and Vader tells Luke, “No.  I am your father.”  And then imagine that they walked around the halls of Bespin for 20 minutes talking about it.  This is how Guardians 2 is.  It’s exactly how it is.

Baby Groot?  Abysmal.  What a horrible way for the character to grow and while it may entertain movie fans like my kid I betcha 20 bucks in 5 years he looks at me and says, “Dude, Baby Groot is stupid.”

It’s funny who Stallone actually plays in the film but if you don’t know the comics, once again, you have no clue.  And there’s really no explanation though there is a nice throwback in one of the 32 end credit scenes that pop up.

The flick just looks like it was completely shot on a green-screened backlot.  They may have spend $200 million on the budget of this film and have the best computer guys to generate the most amazing backgrounds ever but it felt like Attack of the Clones where everything just looked really………fake.

My favorite character from the first film returns.  I won’t spoil that for those who haven’t seen the movie.

The best part?  I’d say the soundtrack.  George Harrison!  Looking Glass!  ELO!  The opening credits are actually set to Mr. Blue Sky and while the opening credits were pretty god awful (we watch Baby Groot dance around oh so cute while the rest of the Guardians fight a space monster off-screen) it turns out that Mr. Blue Sky is a great song to have in an action sequence.  Producers of John Wick take note for your sequel.

Second best part?  DUDE TANGO AND CASH ARE BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!  Sly and Kurt don’t have any scenes together but how cool is it having Tango and Cash back in a film!??!?!  Do I smell Tango and Cash sequel!??!?!?!

At the end of the day this film is just missing the fun and adventure of the first film.  It REALLY dragged at times.  I think I’ll need to watch it again but I won’t be returning to theaters to see this one.  Maybe when it’s on sale on Black Friday for 8 bucks I’ll snag it.  If you love Marvel movies see it.  If the kids MUST see the new Guardians flick, take em.  The film is not entirely awful but if you are expecting the same whimsy just know that lightning do not strike twice.

RANK: C