t is difficult to catch lightning in a bottle twice, and that's exactly what James gun tries to do in 'Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2'. Ultimately volume 2 isn't as amazing a film as the first and suffers from some pacing issues, but it still proves to be a fun time with a lot of heart.
Family is a big theme in volume 2 and serves as its unifying plot tread, if the first 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' was about bringing the team together this one is about testing that bond.
While the movie does a good job of earning the group Arch the journey, this involves splitting the team for their own personal missions. Glamora and Drax join Peter when he goes off with Ego and Mantis. Rocket and Groot end up pairing with Yondu and Nebular; this team grapples with the conflicts and personal demons that threatens to tear them apart. Their individual stories tend to dominate the movie, which would be fine if each arch was a bit better balanced, but with each of these more isolated story threads comes a new cast of supporting characters and it's in trying to flesh them out, that volume 2 starts to get unwieldy.
All these moving parts cause one to start to lose track as to where the main thread of the movie is and it becomes problematic that major characters who are important in the third act; are absent for big chunks of the second act, this balance issues a new problem with volume 2 that wasn't present in the more streamline story of the first guardians.
The best thing volume 2 has offer, is the love that we already have for each team member. From the start of this movie you are already routing for these characters even though the team chemistry isn't there for parts of the movie; splitting everyone apart does allow each characters arch room to grow and build on the foundation of the first film, but volume 2 tries too hard to lean into what people loved and responded to in the first Guardians. James gun plays to the strengths of his character's but goes a bit too far with some of them.
Overusing certain gimmicks like baby Groot makes some of the moments lose their punch. Volume 2 lacks a lot of the effortless charisma of the first because it's trying hard to meet and surpass a lot of the expectations. That being said Guardians brings itself together in the act.
This is one of the most emotional conclusions to a Marvel movie to date. It also shouldn't be understated that 'Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2' is as beautiful to look at as the first movie, with its bright and psychedelic aesthetic apparently being more 70's influenced this time around, but while 'Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2' has a lot more problems in terms of pacing and story telling than the first installment it's still very much a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie.
There is no slavish need to tie this into every other movie in the franchise in fact this is probably one of the most stand alone Marvel Cinematic movies in phase 3, for all that it over delivers; the things you love about Guardians Of The Galaxy are all still there, and in any other movie the problems with volume 2 might have made for a much more satisfying film going experience.
It's hard to complain about another adventure with characters you love and in that sense 'Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2' fully delivers.