Chris Pratt’s cocksure Peter Quill and his gang of misfit space adventurers return to save the galaxy a second time.
The mix of tongue-in-cheek banter and even more tongue-in-cheek action is much as before, but this time the caper doesn’t have quite the fizz of the first outing.
Even so, the opening sequence is guaranteed to put a smile on your face as Baby Groot, sprig offshoot of Vin Diesel’s walking tree in the first film, grooves away to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky while Peter and his companions flail away in the background, attempting to defeat an alien monster.
Returning writer-director James Gunn can’t fully sustain this level of fun when the story proper gets going. Most of the plot is concerned with daddy issues, with a sidebar of sister strife, as Peter encounters his celestial father Ego (Kurt Russell) for the first time, while Zoe Saldana’s green-skinned Gamora pursues her feud with cyborg sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). The tiffs and spats sometimes hold up the action, at one point prompting this request from Gamora: ‘Can we put the bickering on hold until after we survive this massive space battle?’
Unsurprisingly, the film is at least 15 minutes too long. Yet fans of the original will find the Guardians – including Bradley Cooper’s wise-ass talking raccoon Rocket and Dave Bautista’s dim hulk Drax – as endearingly disreputable as ever. They’ll also get a kick from the killer 1970s pop and knowing pop-culture references, which this time embrace everything from Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain to Mary Poppins and David Hasselhoff.