Three years ago, I stumbled upon the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie completely by accident. (No seriously, you can read that review here) Approximately three weeks later, Marvel realized they had stumbled into an unexpected juggernaut of epic money printing proportions, meaning that it was always going to be fated that the two of us would meet again sometime in 2017.

The result? Well, for more than a week now I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to summarize, eventually succumbing to letting the experts do that for me. After reading a handful of them, it appears they all have pretty much the same thoughts as me.

Which is essentially, for as much effortless fun as the first one was, this one was effort-full?

The beauty of the first film was that it was an origin story that never felt like one. We weren’t forced to look back at diapers-to-adulthood summaries of all parties and w/ the small exception of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, didn’t meet any of the characters until the moment in time the film begins.

This time, we are taken on a multi-generational space (soap) opera that has a whole lot of daddy issues coming from a whole lot of directions. (Not to mention Stallone doing a cameo for the sole purpose of setting up future installments, ditto for a race of golden bodied people that I’m still not sure needed to be there…and Kurt Russell CGI’d back to being 21. For serious.)

That’s not to say it isn’t fun or worth seeing. The set pieces are absolutely astounding, and the interplay of Drax and the newly-added Nebula is excellent. Ditto for Michael Rooker as Yandu, who pretty much steals the movie and could be nominated for some acting awards w/o anybody snickering at the prospect.

What it does say is don’t go in expecting the same kind of banter and light, fun fare as the first time. Saddled w/ the massive expectations of carrying the start of summer blockbuster season and being able to fit seamlessly into the rest of the Marvel Universe this time out, the film buckles slightly under the weight.

As most sequels are want to do. This just happens to be one particular instance where it didn’t have to.

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