James Gunn's Guardians come a-blazing and a-hazing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the highly-anticipated following chapter in this saga of sword-wielding, sarcastic soldiers of flawed fortune. Where the 2014 debut concluded, Star Lord a.k.a. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) received a second tape from his late Earthly mother and like him, fans and critics alike listened in faith that disappointment would not triumph. With Vol. 2, rest-assured Marvel's favourite dysfunctional family of fighters are back with a bang!
All the familiar faces return, with the sisterly conflict between warring sisters Gomora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) reaching new heights, Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) newfound fatherhood of Baby Groot (Vin Diesel - more to come on that), dry-humoured Drax and of course, Mr. Quill himself. As the team are on the run from a technologically-advanced race called The Sovereign, they are aided and taken in by whom is soon discovered to be Peter's long-lost father, a planet (that's right, a planet) named Ego (Kurt Russell). Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of ravagers, including his loyal compadre Kraglin (Sean Gunn in a welcomed larger role than before) seek a piece of the action, but not without having to deal with infighting issues of their own. In short, Vol. 2 expands upon the first in just about all the right ways that a quality sequel should; writer/director Gunn allows the plot to diverge and deepen, without losing his youthfulness and energy in what he's created here.
As promised, Baby Groot is all laughs and all-too-adorable (he is even referred to as "too adorable to kill" at one point) as he sways and swings his way through the opening credits to ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" as the team battle a tentacled monster in the background. This beautifully and rather aptly sets up a cinematic experience that, like its 2014 smash-hit prequel, is both fun and different; certainly different from anything MCU has offered prior. Perhaps though, it's a little too fun at times that it undermines the depth of its concepts concerning loneliness and life's purpose. Through Peter's relationship with his father, viewers are encouraged to explore a purpose that reaches beyond.
From the hip swingin' sounds of the seventies from Mix Tape #2 providing warm and nostalgic comfort throughout to an otherwise loud, effect-laden landscape that allows for both exquisite and extraordinarily dizzying visuals, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will certainly appease most expectant fans. Though a few laughs are stretched thin and it all feels as real and organic as coloured popcorn, Gunn and an incredible team of cast and crew have delivered a worthy sequel that puts a heart-shaped notch in Marvel's belt.