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Star-Lord and his band of intergalactic A-holes are back for another adventure in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Without the element of surprise that helped the first film, can this sequel capture the magic (pelvic sorcery?) of it’s predecessor?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was an incredibly pleasant surprise. An unexpected success, at least by audiences, it demonstrated that Marvel Studios didn’t need to rely on their big names like Iron Man or Captain America ( or X-Men or Fantastic Four) .

With a kick-ass soundtrack and a bevy of heroes led by the ever ascending Chris Pratt, it might have helped that the script by Nicole Perlman and relative Hollywood outsider James Gunn was whip smart and funny.

So what has Gunn, now the sole writer as well as director, got in store this time?

Bring It On Home To Me

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 team

Well, after brief trip down memory lane with Star-Lord’s mother and father, and yet another outing for Disney/Marvel’s de-ageing technology (seriously do they have to use it in EVERY movie?), it’s down to business almost immediately as the Guardians take care of an inter-dimensional beast for snooty aliens The Sovereign, claim their bounty and promptly find themselves in a world of trouble, thanks to a certain Racoon’s light paws.

After ending up shipwrecked, half the team accepts “roadside assistance” from a man calling himself Ego (Kurt Russel), who claims to be Star-Lord’s father, while the other half works on repairing the ship and keeping an eye on their captive Nebula (Karen Gillen). It’s not long before Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his pirate band of Ravagers put in a repeat reappearance, and the Guardians need to reunite, with a few additions, to save the galaxy once more.

While missing the shock factor of the original, Gunn has managed to craft a worthy sequel that lives up to the previous movie but doesn’t quite overtake it. The opening’s breakneck pace may avoid any ponderous set up, but it can be a little jarring to be cast back into the crazy colourful world Gunn has created. Thankfully it’s a feeling that eventually dissipates as the plot, characters and jokes build up, with most, if not all, of the jokes landing. No mean feat considering how many so-called comedies can fail to raise even a grin. It’s even more remarkable when you consider just how weird many of the gags are.

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Fox on the Run

Unencumbered by the need to twist his story to fit in with Marvel’s overarching Infinity Stones epic and or lead into 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Gunn concentrates instead on filling in Star-lord’s past, Nebula’s future and developing the characters of Rocket and, oddly enough, Yondu? All performed to to the beat of Awesome Mix Volume 2. I found myself unconsciously tapping my feet with the music and action more than once.

The visuals also match the quality of the music. Bright coloured nebulae, thousands of on-screen space craft and of course Rocket and Groot are all achieved fantastically. Gunn has filled his sci-fi comic book world with sights unlike anything we see these days outside the odd Luc Besson flick. It’s actually a disservice to call Groot and Rocket “effects”. They are fully realised characters in their own right.

Chris Pratt leads his team with the usual charm although he and Zoe Saldanas Gamora probably have the least development, behind Dave Baustista’s Drax. Drax is mostly used for comic relief here, but this leaves more room for everyone else, including the oddball inhabitants of Marvel’s cosmic universe. Many of the smallest side characters get a moment to shine including Sean Gunn’s Kraglin and a host of Marvel universe characters, as well as the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. Speaking of cameos Sylvester Stallone’s role is far more than that, his character setting important aspects of the plot in in motion and his connection to the original Guardians of the Galaxy will have fans of the originals squeeing with joy.

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I am Groot

For any one worried, based upon the marketing, that Baby Groot might be too cute and destabilise the whole enterprise (aka “the Ewok effect“) he’s a joy. His cuteness saves him from death at the hands of a hardened villain because he’s “too adorable” but this is nicely offset by Gunn making him incredibly dumb. Hilariously he’s as thick as two sort planks, even if he’s shorter than them, but with the temperament of an unruly two year old; a two year old who can easily string you up by your ankles.

Kurt Russel shows just where Star-Lord got his swagger but it’s Michael Rooker who steals the show delivering a impressive, affecting performance as Yondu, despite the false teeth, blue skin and with a giant fin stuck to his head.

As rumoured there are indeed five post credits sequences to hang around for after the movie’s finished. With the exception of one, pretty obscure reference, they’re mostly gags rather than set ups anything up for future instalments, however the credits themselves are also entertaining enough to watch. One post credits sequence should be of special interest to Malaysian audiences (you ‘ll know it when you see it).

Mr Blue Sky

The Guardians second outing is a colourful, fun, rocking adventure that ends up being about “family” almost as much as that other big summer franchise which also stars Vin Diesel.

As the credit’s state “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return” in both Avengers: Infinity War, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which it has been confirmed will be written and directed by James Gunn and I can’t wait to see what wackiness he comes up with next.

 

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone,

Directed by: James Gunn

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Movie lover, project manager, coder. co-host of the McYapndFries movie podcast. Irish lost in Malaysia. Can be found on twitter @McNastyPrime (and yes, that IS the Iron Throne)