Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana & Michael Rooker
Synopsis: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.
Rating: 12A Duration: 136 minutes Release date: 28 April (UK)

Whatever criticisms others may want to lay at the door of Marvel Studios, one can never say that their films are not fun. Even the likes of Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World and Doctor Strange have enough going for them to be enjoyable throwaway films. On that basis Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is heaps of fun and while it has lost some of the originality of the first film, it is still an absolute blast.

Picking up after the events of the first film, our heroes are now regarded by those they come across as the Guardians of the Galaxy and are hired to do well-paid, high-risk jobs. We catch up with them as they are preparing to battle some sort of inter-dimensional monster that is threatening to steal some very valuable batteries. Unfortunately for our heroes, Rocket decides to double cross their employers and steals the batteries for himself. Duly chased by the leader of the Sovereign race; Ayesha, the Guardians look all but doomed until a mysterious figure blasts those pursuing them to smithereens. Their saviour turns out to be a Celestial known as Ego, who is claiming to be Peter Quill’s father.

When Guardians of the Galaxy was released three years ago it was deemed by many as a risk. Marvel had been playing it safe until thent, but they were finally prepared to roll the dice and try something different. GOTG was a space-opera set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it definitely did not feel like a superhero film. Springing a walking tree and a talking raccoon on audiences was a big step, as was giving James Gunn the directors chair. Marvel didn’t need to take the risk, they had been making good films and plenty of money up until then, but it all worked out remarkably well. Perhaps if GOTG 2 has a fault, it’s that it rides too close to the first film and plays it relatively safe this time around. Risk taking is in short supply here and it can feel a bit familiar at times.

It’s difficult to judge whether this was intentional or not. Despite the rebellious yell of the first film, it’s easy to see why Marvel would want to stick to the formula that worked so well before. On the other hand it would have been nice if they had tried to better that film instead of making one that is just as good. James Gunn seems to be on the same page as many of the films fans and even if GOTG 2 is somewhat risk averse then it digs deeper into the characters he has lovingly crafted. There are moments in the films final third where we truly see why they stick together and what makes them a family instead of just a team. Some moments serve the film better than others and some may seem a step too far.

Arguably GOTG 2 takes too long to get to its point. Two thirds of the film, as joyous as they are, leave the Guardians with little to do. It is no doubt fun, but some elements feel inconsequential by the end. Despite this, GOTG 2 is a film that demands to be enjoyed. At times it is very funny, but it is crying out for another “Jackson Pollock” line. The action is coherent and the usual Marvel colour palette is used to great effect, with one scene in particular showcasing Gunn’s eye for great comedy-action shots (is that a thing or have I just made that up?). Regardless of any faults it may have, Guardians is a brilliant roller-coaster ride full of everything great popcorn cinema should have even if it doesn’t feel new any more.

4/5

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