Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review (Spoiler-Free)
It pretty much boils down to this: if you didn't like the first Guardians of the Galaxy, you won't like the second one. That being said, if you liked the first, there's more, way more of that in this one and that's a good yet bad thing.
The first GotG left us with Star Lord and the gang heading off to do something good, something bad or a bit of both. Vol. 2 picks up with them doing the third option for a group called The Sovereign who play a role throughout the movie thanks to some hijinks by Rocket. The group then commences on a mission to increase their bank account but as we all know, nothing ever goes according to plan in the movies which leads us along the main story line of Peter Quill/Star Lord finding out more about who the mystery man is that's his father. Saying too much more ruins the fun that is the second movie of this fun group of loveable miscreants.
With the many characters director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) is responsible for and does a good job with, it's Michael Rooker as Yondu who steals the film in my opinion. We learn more of his backstory and it changes your perspective of him from the first film. He becomes someone you want to root for. His scene that is set to the song Come a Little Bit Closer by Jay and the Americans was my favorite in the movie. The iconic Kurt Russell as Ego is great as always in whatever role he plays. There's even a fun cameo, although it's a little bigger role than that, by another icon of the film industry who is anything but Expendable.
The beginning credits are up in my top 5 along with Deadpool, Se7en, Watchmen and Lord of War. Their presentation is genius and a lot of fun. While on the subject of credits, there are 5 (yes 5) post-credits scenes. Amazingly about half the theater left after the second one as though they'd never seen a Marvel movie before that had a scene at the very end of the credits.
However as with the good, there is some bad. It's not anything to turn you off the movie by any means but it's mostly some overkill on Drax and his metaphors and usage of language. There's also some potty humor that deserved an eye-roll but it passed quickly. Also partway through the movie the team gets split up and we lose the fun chemistry between them that made the first movie work, BUT we also get to learn more of their personal backstories. While that's good, we also get more characters added as sequels are wont to do and that means a little bit of overload on people to follow but Gunn does do a good job of managing it.
Just as with the first Guardians movie, Gunn also does an excellent job again of choosing songs that fit the flow and emotions of the movie and expose the audience to music they might never have heard. I hadn't heard Brandy by Looking Glass or Lakeshore Drive by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah before this movie but they are now in rotation on my playlist. Some other standouts are Father and Son by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and the aforementioned Come a Little Bit Closer.
Overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable sequel that packs in a lot of emotional moments compared to the first one, especially at the end.