The Guardians of the Galaxy have finally returned with a triumphant sequel that easily stands up against their 2014 debut. This time, the story centres around Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finding his long-lost father Ego (Kurt Russell), as the team is also faced with overcoming a number of their inter-galactic enemies.

Opening with a genius sequence set to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, it immediately becomes clear that the Guardians haven’t lost any charm during their three-year absence. The wacky sense of humour established in the first movie returns, with an unending stream of jokes running for the duration of the movie. Remarkably, almost all of them hit their mark with very few duds to be found, but laughs are not all this film has to offer.

By choosing to add only a few new characters, writer-director James Gunn has plenty of time to explore the Guardians in greater depth than he could in the first entry. He does an excellent job giving us an insight into the minds of every member of the team, finding time for each to have at least one emotional moment. Indeed, for a film that celebrates its own insanity, Volume 2 effectively builds to a genuinely touching finale that could leave some movie-goers feeling weepy.

“The action sequences don’t disappoint.”

Of course, a major selling point of this movie will be the action sequences and they don’t disappoint. Gunn excels at framing space battles that are vast in scope without overwhelming his audience, while also delivering some memorable smaller scale fights. As was the case in the first film, Gunn also integrates a fantastic soundtrack into the events unfolding on-screen, continually finding ways to do this in a manner that feels fresh and original.

Credit must be given to some of the best visual effects yet to be seen in a Marvel film, or perhaps blockbuster cinema as a whole. Each planet has a unique and fascinating design which is beautifully brought to life, while characters like Groot and Rocket are so lifelike it becomes easy to forget they’re completely computer generated.

“Volume 2 remains one of the best super hero films of recent years.”

Although the plot meanders slightly as it refuses to settle on a single key villain or plot line, Volume 2 remains one of the best super hero films of recent years. This is due to a compelling focus on character, which leaves each member of the team emotionally exposed. What at first seemed like a ridiculous roster of kid-friendly characters, is revealed to be a group dominated by very human insecurities and traumas. Rather than exploring every corner of the galaxy, Volume 2 explores a group of people who reside there, and is far more interesting as a result.

★★★★★

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