Genre: Science Fiction, Superhero Directed by: James Gunn Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel

(Another subtitle I was considering related to the name of a certain villain in this film, but I wanted to avoid spoilers, but its bloody hilarious)

In case you’re wondering, yes I bought the soundtrack for both the first and the second Guardians of the Galaxy films. And yes I did have fun with it because of that, thank you for asking.

When I watched the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’m not sure what I was expecting. After all, The Avengers was such a massive hit and remains one of Marvel’s most successful films to date, how would they top that? Well they didn’t really, Age of Ultron was still an excellent film, but it wasn’t such a drastic step from its predecessor.

Why bring this up? Well because it feels like I’ve had the same reaction regarding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. Honestly how could they possibly match how awesome an experience that the first of these films was?

Vol.2 is essentially more of Guardians of the Galaxy, and that’s still a good thing, I need to say this now before you think I actually dislike it.

We once again follow this ragtag band of treasure hunter Star Lord (Chris Pratt) assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) knife weilding maniac Drax, (Dave Bautista) mutated woodland creature Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and talking tree’s – now bite size – Groot (Vin Diesel) as they continue to make a name for themselves throughout the galaxy. On one of their missions they are contacted by Peter’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell) who has finally found his son and summons him to his planet. Along the way we encounter everyone’s favourite pirate captain Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Gamora’s vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillian) as they have scores to settle and come to crash the party.

Its funny how a film that seems to have a lot going on can also have less to it than you’d think. Yes, there are subplots abound in this film, but most of these are related to specific characters rather than some big galaxy spanning danger or event like in the last Guardians film. The tighter focus on the characters is something I know that I appreciated as doing a repeat of the first film probably would not have worked so well. It is very possible to come in to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 having not watched the first film, and still understand what is happening.

Not that this is as much of an issue with other Marvel films as you’d expect but I’d still make the argument that Guardians is one of the most approachable set of films that the studio has made as we enter later phases of the Cinematic Universe.

In fact, there really isn’t much that connects this film to others in the Cinematic Universe; apart from the obligatory Stan Lee cameo (which seems to confirm one or two suspicions..) and references to Thanos the villain for the upcoming Avengers films, nothing new is really learned. No infinity stones, real hints towards upcoming films, Vol.2 seems to stand out on its own without having to rely upon its predecessors.

This is likely to be a good thing in Guardians’s case, since not many would be watching it for these sorts of world building connections, but for its story, its comedy and of course the music.

The story is passable I suppose, it wasn’t anything particularly engrossing or on the level of other Marvel films like Civil War. But it is serviceable; it gives added depth to characters and the opportunity for these personalities to clash once again.

And when they do clash, its always entertaining, with particular stand outs being Rocket and Drax when they get particularly angry or hilarious, always with great comedic effect. Other characters are good too, with Peter and Gamora continuing to be cool and having their “unspoken moment” between them. And of course there’s Groot, and he is Groot.

We have other characters too with Yondu and Nebula having expanded roles; often serving as family figures to the Guardian’s, while having a story of their own, like mutiny among the Ravagers or Nebula’s continuing need for revenge.

And again, this is where Guardian’s strength is; its characters and the charm that they all have, it makes following their stories all the more worthwhile.

Not much else I can really say about the story or the characters; its pretty self-explanatory. I will say that there aren’t any real surprises in this one. If you’ve seen any movie where an orphan boy meets his parent for the first time you can usually expect one of three scenario’s to occur. Kind of predictable there.

But the problem is there’s this shock revelation that occurs part way through the film, and I was left feeling more confused about it than shocked.

I’d talk more about the effects and visuals in Guardians but, frankly, you already know that this looks good; its use of colour and animation gives some stunning moments throughout the film and give it such life in addition to the fun characters.

And that’s ultimately what I consider Vol.2; a great fun adventure that – while doing nothing new – continues to build with the foundation that the first Guardians gave it. It also helps that the fantastic soundtrack is still there, with a lot of ‘new’ songs to keep us entertained (and also to boost my awareness of good songs because I’m a little.. antiquated with my tastes)

So yeah, go watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 if you haven’t already (I’d be surprised if you weren’t intending to being Marvel fans) its essentially more of the Guardians, and for now, that’s enough.

Oh and Sylvester Stallone might be getting involved in Guardians at some point.. which you know, seems pretty cool.

Rating: 4.5/5

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