• Note: There are 3 post credit scenes, none of which provide any teasers or connections to the Marvel Universe.

It’s safe to say that the talking raccoon and tree-walking surprise that was Guardians of the Galaxy 1 (written practically over a weekend from a virtually unheard of director) was a major hit that blindsided everyone and showcased the sheer versatility that Marvel was capable of. I have always seen Guardians of the Galaxy as James Gunn’s version of a rebadged and modernized “Star Wars IV” consisting of the same winning elements with the Gunn twist that made it all the more unique and boy did it deliver, but what of vol. 2? Is this his Empire or much like Iron Man is Guardians 1 the dragon that Marvel will chase for the rest their lives?

At just over 2 hours, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 opens with one of the coolest openings I’ve seen and blitzes through material in familiar fashion, from one planet to the next while keeping tabs on all the characters from the first film. Planets, technology and life forms that were showcased were both unique and intriguing, this being core elements in a sci-fi film of such scale. Gunn once again keeps the theme or space being a sowxtscle as set pieces, costumes and aliens were vibrant and engaging reminiscent of 60s era sci-fo films such as Barbarella (I’m looking at you Star Wars with your fucking single topographical planets and Japanese aliens).

Most importantly, Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is great. Although I didn’t think much of it at first, having given the soundtrack a little more of a chance I’ve since been hooked (it’s playing in the background as I write this). With catchy songs that will have you listening to them again and again, The Chain — Fleetwood Mac (every band member watched the scene before giving their go ahead) and Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang — Silver took took the cake for me and are both firmly cemented in my playlist.

Guardians 2 is definitely not methodical and nor is it conventional by being a solely character driven film where the true purpose of the film and its characters are not realized until the final act. This deviation from basic structure in just a handful of moments left the plot a little clunky and disjointed coupled with the need to move the story along by jumping from location to location. Though this could have probably been fixed with a bit more editing, luckily you only feel this in just a few instances.

Guardians 2 has matched its former self in brilliant fashion. With Groot and Drax providing much of the laugh-out-loud humor, the script shines through everyone’s perfect delivery (“I’m Mary Poppins ya’ll!” — best line). Kurt Russel was a fitting choice for Peter Quill’s father and I must say, the surprise cameos were epic! I can’t wait to see where Gunn takes them as he’s already expressed an interest in doing so! As David Hasselhoff sings in the closing credits “We. Are. Groot”. — ★★★★☆