GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 Spoiler-Free Review; "An Out Of This World Experience"

There's just one more week to go until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is released, so hit the jump for our completely spoiler-free verdict on this highly anticipated sequel from Marvel Studios...

Guardians of the Galaxy exceeded expectations in every way possible back in 2014, so to say that hopes were high for the sequel to deliver would be an understatement. From finding the same magic soundtrack to special effects and story, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the odds stacked against it from the start despite the return of writer/director James Gunn and the brilliant ensemble cast from the first instalment. It's amazing then that this is one of those rare follow-ups which not only delivers but exceeds the aforementioned expectations, actually eclipsing the first in damn near every way possible as a result. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is in some ways more contained than the first movie (which often felt like something of a road trip through outer space). While there's plenty of spectacle and jaw-dropping new planets to behold, much of the action is takes place in just a handful of locations. That would hurt a lot of movies, but Gunn makes such great use of the story and characters that it never matters and is unlikely to be something you ever really notice. It goes without saying that the returning cast members are all great, though it's Chris Pratt who steals the show this time as Star-Lord is taken on an emotional and compelling journey of discovering his father's identity and what exactly that means for him. It was, of course, Dave Bautista who stole it last time around, but Drax's unique brand of humour is a tad hit and miss in this outing, an issue which proves to be Vol. 2's only real issue. While the jokes made by our heroes land a good 90% of the time, there is that 10% which just don't work, something which results in some lines feeling a little forced or out of place.

That's a pretty minor complaint, though, and there's no denying that this is a fun movie with a strong story and performances which will stick with you for a long time to come. It goes without saying that Kurt Russell is superb as Ego the Living Planet, while newcomers Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki are also excellent (the former will make a much bigger impression on you as a character you want to see more of, but the latter sets up something pretty huge for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and escapes being a typical generic Marvel villain as a result). The work of Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn as Yondu and Kraglin also deserves to be highlighted as both take two entertaining characters from the first movie and give them a heck of a lot of heart here. However, despite all of this, it should come as no surprise to learn that Baby Groot is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's true star. Hilarious in places and heart-wrenching in others, the tiny sentient tree is destined to become a firm fan-favourite and may just be the best thing Marvel has done to date. If you don't want your own Baby Groot by the time all is said and done, you may very well be dead inside. Just saying. 

In terms of story, the movie is a little lighter than some other comic book adaptations, but that's no bad thing when there's so much going on. Splitting the team up proves to be a wise move and the huge amount of heart they bring to the table help make this a sequel to remember. The father and son theme is a strong one too and things head in some unexpected directions throughout making this an even bigger triumph than the first in terms of sheer originality. Special effects are flawless, while the soundtrack is arguably better than the first thanks to some great tunes from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, and Cheap Trick. There's a lot to dissect in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (we'll get to all that in some upcoming feature), but this is by far one of the best and most inventive superhero movies to date; where else will you find an adorable living tree dancing to ELO as his teammates get their asses kicked in the background? 

An out of this world experience packed full of strong performances, stellar story beats, and fresh ideas help ensure that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of Marvel's best movies to date. It may, in fact, be their greatest of all-time. 

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