Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a roaring space adventure filled with humor and heart. It doesn't quite reach the greatness of the original, but comes close enough to be a smashing success. Director/writer James Gunn gives each character their moment to shine. The primary cast is superb, but the film is loaded with small roles that add up to a whole lot of quirkiness. Guardians 2 bursts unto the screen like a pack of rainbow Skittles. It's an eighties pop fueled ride that starts the summer movie season off with a technicolor bang. This review is completely spoiler free.

Guardians 2 leaps headfirst into the plot like a diver into a shallow pool. We pick up the crew: Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and the adorable Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), on a job that's gone decidedly south. As they battle their way out of trouble, a mysterious ally (Kurt Russell) with a whole lot to say joins the fracas. Meanwhile, across the galaxy, Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of Ravagers find themselves in a serious dilemma. Their previous engagement with the Guardians has had unforeseen consequences. All roads lead to Peter Quill as every faction is roped into a cosmos threatening conflict.

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The film plays out like a rollercoaster. It's up and down with quite a few curves. There are moments of insane action followed by scenes of sweet endearing. There's a lot of sentimentality to the plot. In a way, it interrupts the flow of the story with heavy moments. I think some people may be critical of these scenes. I view them as adding depth and dimension to the characters. There's a lot of history between them. It makes sense, gasp, that they would talk to each other about what's happening. I give James Gunn credit for giving his characters soul. They kick a whole lot of ass, but are emotionally bonded to each other. The family aspect is a strong thread.

Baby Groot will smother you into cuteness submission. His antics, while gurgling, "I am Groot"; never gets old. His big watery eyes suck you in like a vacuum. You really root for the little guy, especially when he gets hurt. Normally this character would seem cheap, but much like BB-8 in Star Wars, equally viable to the team and unfolding plot.

Guardians 2 continues the love affair with everything eighties. A few jokes might fly over the heads of younger audiences, but those who grew up in that period will be laughing hysterically. Pratt will have you howling with his constant references to his childhood idols. Dave Bautista's Drax is also a riot with his brutal honesty. His interaction with the others is comic gold. It's akin to having Don Rickles, or an insult comic, every step of the way.

It is getting annoying to have mutliple scenes that run through the end credits. Guardians 2 has four additional scenes that follow the ending. They are funny and set up sequels, but I think four bonus scenes pushes it. You might as well include them in the actual film. Guardians 2 runs two hours and eighteen minutes. Do not drink a large soda in the first five minutes or you will regret it.

I cannot wait to see this film again. Coming from Disney and Marvel, The Guardians of the Galaxy are now as much a draw as The Avengers and X-Men. James Gunn has really solidified these characters in the public zeitgeist. Marvel has carte blanche to create multiple spin-off stories based solely on these characters. The groundwork has truly been set with this awesome sequel.

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Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman