Bounding out of Marvel Studios backlot with a frenzied bubblegum plotline, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a moreish intergalactic swirl of lurid landscapes and laser battles, until now only dreamt of outside seventies sci-fi book jackets.
Perhaps Marvel's most unknown and unsung superheroes previous to 2015's battle to save the known universe, this time around Guardians is as over-brimming with bickering comebacks and astounding action as ever.
It's likely to strike it big at the box offices, so expect big explosions, big space battles, big jokes in an ante-upping tiltawhirl of ebullient, overtly idiosyncratic science fiction, buoyed along by the crew's joie de vivre and unchecked id. Essentially space-teens grafted into a begrudging family unit, they're scatalogical, cunning, bombastic and stupid; rag-tagging along from one disaster to the next, glued together only by their self-propelled chaotic quest for adventure as well as some actual outcast kinship.
It's a toss up whether the Guardians are closer to The Mighty Ducks in space or The Breakfast Club by way of Joss Whedon but in Vol. 2 the space bros / galaxy friends / star buddies fly the cosmos as mercenaries for hire. Chris Pratt is still cultivating his legacy as Peter Quill Starlord, with Zoe Saldana's green-skinned Gamora remaining a badass in battle. The Bradley Cooper voiced and bio-engineered to fly, Rocket Racoon fires guns, blows things up and has general combative attitude disorder; and the boom-laughed Drax continues to steal the show with more unwittingly aberrant social decorum. Rounding off the crew, as evident in the last film's coda, Vin Diesel‘s behemoth Ent has reduced in stature, devolving into a cutesy scene-stealing CGI sapling.
Delivering early and unrepentantly on Vol. 1's eight-track promise, there's no real separation between story and soundtrack here, song-to-song or sequence-to-sequence; Fleetwood Mac accompanies ELO accompanies Cheap Trick, alongside a complete loss of tactical force from the squad. An opening scene where the Guardians battle a mammoth space squid to the death becomes a distant backdrop to “I am Groot” unleashing his own adorable tour-de-force on audiences as he dances unfetteredly to ELO's Mr Blue Sky, a scene that's worth rewatching for millennia. (In space no-one can hear you squee!)
The narrative proper kicks off when Rocket double-crosses snootier-than-thou alien race Kree, by absconding with their highly volatile and valuable energy batteries. The gold-painted, regal oddities place a bounty firmly on the Guardians' heads and soon placed in various against-all-odds danger, they jet off with a new addition in Karen Gillan's Nebula, who quickly reconvenes her snarling sibling dual with her sister, Gamora.
The ante-upping paintball phantasmagoria is as unsubtle as it is unabated and, frankly, it would be all too much to handle if it wasn't so darn exciting. Between avoiding the Kree; assault by the Ravagers; and father-son bonding on an idyllic planet that's somehow the manifest extension of Kurt Russell's character Ego. Well, wow, essentially Guardians' throws a lot of disparate story strands our way. They all seem to stick however and Guardians' sheer potluck of promise comes good in a way that just works.
It might be one big sugar rush ad infinitum but the movie has magic, a certain amount of knowing schmaltz and to be frank is one of the few times on-screen CGI hasn't felt like foxfire fantasticness.
Bow down to director James Gunn!