Set against the backdrop of the cool retro sounds emitting from Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix Vol. 2 cassette tape, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the highly-anticipated sequel to 2014’s surprise smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Written and directed once again by James Gunn, the second film reunites everyone’s favourite cosmic heroes, in an action packed, hilarious film full of heart and vibrant colour so good it not only lives up to the hype but could very well be Marvel’s best outing yet.

Set just months after the events of the first film, the Guardians, led by Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), are considered heroes among the galaxy. Following a mission to defend a sovereign alien race from an inter-dimensional beast, Quill along with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and baby Groot (Vin Diesel) encounter Ego (Kurt Russell), claiming to be Quill’s long lost father. As the Guardians fight to keep their newfound family together while unravelling the mysteries behind their leader’s true parentage, old foes become allies as Nebula (Karen Gillan), Yondu (Michael Rooker) and new friend Mantis (Pom Klementieff) team together to save the galaxy from destruction a second time.

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Expanding the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe further with a self-contained story not relying on The Avengers to make an appearance and picking up right where we left off the first time, the family element and heart present throughout these beloved characters is what holds it all together and what helps set it apart from other films under the same umbrella. 

The original film essentially Marvel’s first big risk, taking a gamble on a lesser-known property with an obscure title, it went on to shatter all expectations, grossing almost $800 million worldwide to become the highest grossing comic book film of 2014. Praised for its humour, action, brilliant soundtrack, visual effects and acting, it wasn’t long before the world knew the names of the Guardians of the Galaxy; quickly becoming somewhat of an overnight pop culture phenomenon rivalling even that of its MCU co-stars Iron Man and Captain America whilst also paving the way for equally lesser known marvel characters like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange debuting in the films that followed.

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With full credit due to writer/director James Gunn’s skills as both excellent scriptwriter and hands on director evident in the level of detail and life he breathes into every frame, his deep love for these characters and knowledge of the comic series on which they are based is where these films benefit from having such a gifted individual and self professed super-fan at the helm. Sharing a strong bond with his cast and crew and given free reign to fully realize his vision, each individual character is given their own arc to follow as we learn more about each, making for an above-par superhero romp that while still hitting all the expected beats the genre has come to know, remains about characters and the struggles they face.

When you’ve got funny-man turned international superstar Pratt as the lead in your movie, you know you’re in for a good time. Now undoubtedly a fully fledged bankable movie-star, in many respects the modern-day Harrison Ford thanks to roles in Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven and even The Lego Movie, he’s come a long way since his humble television beginnings, here reprising the role of Star-Lord.

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Maintaining his reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest guys around, Pratt’s charisma and every-man attitude adds to the believability of a leader tasked with the responsibility of steering his friends in the right direction while benefitting from having the likes of great actors and real life friends Saldana and Bautista by his side.

Bradley Cooper’s voice and motion capture performance as the always angry but decidedly loveablegenetically engineered raccoon Rocket is a highlight in a particular scene involving the blue skinned favourite Yondu and the so cute it almost hurts Baby Groot voiced by Diesel. The screen legend that is Kurt Russell stands out as a welcomed addition to the ensemble, so perfectly cast he eats up every second of screen time given, delivering some of the film’s best moments as Ego, Peter’s father and celestial being who possesses his own planet.

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The perfect excuse to get the gang back together again with dazzling visuals and belly bursting joke after joke hitting all the right funny bones resulting in eruptive laughter from its audience, this isn’t just the most fun cinema experience you can have right now, but it’s also the funniest superhero film to date. With even Sylvester Stallone signing up for the fun in a small role, the film knows what it is, and it delivers on all fronts.

Addressing all the unanswered questions from the first film while gearing you up for more Guardians action with what’s next in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an incredible space opera sequel with plenty of surprises, adorable baby Groot, another red-hot soundtrack and something on offer for everyone. Plus, five end credit scenes.

You only get the chance to save the galaxy twice.

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