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Guardians 2 2Released: 28th April 2017

Directed By: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel

Certificate: 12A

Reviewed By: Van Connor

2014 may have seen Marvel hand the keys to the proverbial kingdom to the Russo brothers, but Marvel’s most undervalued achievement of their spectacular summer that year was unquestionably the catapulting of fan-fave horror craftsman James Gunn onto the A-List. While Guardians of the Galaxy saw Gunn taking his tentative steps into blockbuster terrain however, Vol. 2 sees the Troma alum kick his game into full-blown sci-fi epic calibre, with a rollicking sequel that will have audiences grinning ear to ear from its opening frame to the closing second of it’s (fifth!) post-credits sequence.

Refreshingly, Vol. 2 ignores the wider events of the MCU’s past three years to pick up mere months on in the lives of our now well-and-truly for-hire Guardians. When a botched job sees them on the run from a race of sanctimonious genetic-bigots though, the unlikely family find themselves rescued by none other than Peter Quill’s mysterious father, Ego, who whisks them away to his home world to gift his son the heritage previously unknown to him. Meanwhile, Rocket and (the newly Baby) Groot wind up captives of the now-mutinous Ravagers, and are forced to team up with a broken Yondu in order to stage their bid for freedom.

Ditching the momentum of the first movie for something deeper, darker, and more textured, Vol. 2 sees the retroactively restrained Gunn whip out every trick in his arsenal – there’s a wholehearted Sam Raimi moment at one point – to deliver a gleefully OTT romp stocked to the gills with zippy one-liners, insightful character beats and set pieces so extreme they often threaten to collapse the film in on itself amidst the sheer gorge of both text and subtext. That the Slither helmer even finds time then to cram in the single greatest meta textual gag in the history of internet fandom is ultimately gravy, the cherry on top of what’s ultimately the MCU’s biggest – and, most surprisingly, standalone – sequel to date.

The cast are all on the same brilliantly gauged form as last time around, with newcomers Kurt Russell and Pom Klementieff fitting in seamlessly yet making a grand impression, and a wealth of cameos too off-kilter to sanely reel off. Of particular note this time around though is Michael Rooker, whose beefed-up turn as Yondu emerges the picture’s stand-out performance. There’s nary a weak link to be found in this terrific second outing, with Henry Braham’s joyous visuals ensuring it well and truly pops, Tyler Bates’ perfectly-balanced score bolstering the cast’s emotional heft, and the return of not just Tango, but Cash too. We are Groot, but be Groot in the first screening you possibly make it to.

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