Published: Thu, April 27, 2017
Entertainment | By Johnnie Parsons

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is Wall-to-Wall Delightful

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is Wall-to-Wall Delightful

They are now in the service of the Sovereigns, a race of perfectly bred individuals who don't wish to sully their hands when an interdimensional monster comes knocking on their door.

Despite its flaws, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is immensely fun. If the original was a focused chase centred around an infinity stone MacGuffin, Vol an expansive, confident exploration of its characters which places heart above sci-fi spectacle. (Where have we seen that story before in a far away galaxy?) But the other Guardians' own issues don't get drowned out. So does Vol. 2 manage to reach the heights of its predecessor? But Gunn is clearly uninterested in what he should do and so this is actually a film about the group realising that, despite their huge differences, they function best as the universe's most dysfunctional family. After all, to quote one of this Guardians' biggest and best featured songs - "you would never break the chain". As with all sequels to a universally loved film, expectations run unbelievably high. However, there's a reason that the Guardians of the Galaxy "Mission Breakout" attraction at Disneyland.

It's bigger, louder and injects plenty of fun without ditching the main thing that grabbed audiences - the characterisation.

As we open in 1980's Missouri where a digitally youthenised Kurt Russell hints at a grander, more intergalactic involvement for his mysterious character, the catapulted action to present day where the titular motley crew face off against an oversized creature of sorts as the pint-sized tree-creature Baby Groot (unrecognisably voiced by Vin Diesel) dances on-screen in the foreground sets the tone for what's to come.

Those moments of stillness stand out the most.

Director James Gunn's newfound confidence in his heroes is clear from the beginning, opening with a stunning sequence which uses a showdown with a pink-tentacled beast as a backdrop for Baby Groot's jives to ELO's Mr Blue Sky. In fact, this film may be the most fun Marvel film yet.

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It was groundbreaking - bold and new. What happens here leads into their pursuit of the Guardians. It slows down the pace quite a bit, but it also allows for a lot more intimacy-we really get into the psyche of Peter's struggles of finally meeting his dad, of Gamora and her step-sister Nebula's contentious relationship, and of how Rocket feels about the team. On top of this, the insalubrious Ravagers - the interstellar band of thieves we met in the first film - have an axe to grind. We latch onto the Peter/Ego story, then have to cut to Yondu and Rocket.

But this is not a film about Peter Quill's father, this is a film about his entire family, including teammates old and new. The script is irreverent, the characters are sarcastic, and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) generates laugh after laugh as the hulking brute with zero self-awareness.

Described as an important character in the Marvel Universe, Sylvester Stallone plays the role of Stakar Ogord/Starhawk, a high-ranking Ravager who once encountered Yondu.

Suffice to say, there's a lot to take in.

Stakar had banished Yondu years ago because he did something wrong. And the final battle, try as it might, can't help but become a greenscreen jamboree.

The first film, though revelling in the tropes of the archetypal blockbuster movie - felt unique, the way it blended its irreverent comedy with its emotional core, complete with an indelible soundtrack - and it felt the only way to emulate that would be to do it all over again, which can be a tough thing to get right, without contrivance, anyway.

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