Chris Pratt’s cocksure space adventurer Peter Quill and his band of kooky misfits are back for another round of intergalactic capers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
The mix of tongue-in-cheek banter and even more tongue-in-cheek action is much as before, but this time the gang’s antics don’t have quite the fizz of their 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. Puncturing the ridiculousness of cosmic comic-book battles, it’s a joyously silly sequence.
Daddy issues and sister strife
Sadly, returning writer-director James Gunn can’t fully sustain this level of fun when the story proper gets going. The Guardians run into trouble with the Sovereign, a gold-skinned race of aliens whose taste for bling makes Trump Tower look restrained, and face further tribulation from the piratical, bounty-hunting Ravagers, hired to capture them by the Sovereign’s hacked-off high-priestess (Elizabeth Debicki).
But 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 wiseass talking raccoon Rocket and Dave Bautista’s dim hulk Drax – as endearingly disreputable as ever; and they’ll still 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 Hasselfhoff.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 136 mins. Director James Gunn
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 4 September.