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Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2.

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I loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a fresh take on the Marvel superhero cinematic universe, and as a sci-fi action film, it was funny, had the wackiest ‘wild bunch’ of space characters, and a killer retro 70’s soundtrack to boot.

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So of course I wanted ‘Vol 2’ to rock out just as bad as the first one – and it certainly does from the opening sequence. As the Guardians fight off a giant extra terrestrial to the joyful tune of Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Mr Blue Sky”, the battle rages in the background , but the camera is only focussed on the cute Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) dancing to the track. It’s a total hoot and a visual delight.

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Baby Groot in the opening sequence

The characters are still fiesty and funny  and play off each other like a great (and also dysfunctional) Punk Rock band. Chris Pratt as Peter Quill  a.k.a ‘Star Lord’, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper’ as the voice of Rocket the Raccoon, Dave Bautista as Drax (who steals the funniest lines in the film), and of course Vin Diesel as Baby Groot are all on form. But this time they join forces with Gamora’s bad sister Nebula and Yondu (played by Michael Rooker) from the first film.

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Yondu and Rocket

The new characters range from an evil golden goddess to a guardian mantis to a villain who’s name everyone makes fun of – but the main villain is Kurt Russell playing Ego, who is Peter Quill’s father  (the name’s a bit of a dead giveaway on his intentions). He also sports the greatest ‘space mullet & beard’ combo since Ewan McGregor’s Obi Wan Kenobi in ‘Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones’ (although Mark Hamill as Luke Sywalker in the next Star Wars film ‘ The Last Jedi’ might challenge that number one spot this coming December). Beard oil anyone?

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Who has the best mullet and beard in the galaxy?

There’s also a nice cameo from Slyvester Stallone. Now how uber-retro-cool is that? It’s Kurt Russell & Sly Stallone together in a sci-fi film! Tango & Cash in space!

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Yo Rocky! You’re in a spaceship!

So after the great opening sequence and rollicking first act, the film somehow doesn’t reach those same heights again and it misses a bit of punch in the second and third act as it gets bogged down by a ‘father/son/ we are family’ plot. The soundtrack still rocks like old vinyl – with ELO’s opening track ‘Mr Blue Sky‘, Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run‘, ‘Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)‘ by Looking Glass, Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender‘, George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord‘ and Fleetwood Mac’s great song ‘The Chain‘ the big standouts. Hell, even country singer Glenn Campbell is in the awesome mix.  Of course, Cat Stevens ‘ Father and Son’ is sweet and totally appropriate for the story – but I kept thinking of that old Telecom ad when that song played in the film. Thanks a lot Saatchi & Saatchi.

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The references to Baywatch, David Hasselhoff, and Pac Man are funny, and the visual effects are great as usual and even psychedelic (Chris Pratt in an interview with Empire magazine says if the film was an album, it would be the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘sprawling and trippy’ but in some parts of the film it definitely felt like that always difficult second album. But that’s totally fine.

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Not quite Strawberry Fields…

Even director James Gunn as well as the cast knew that it would be hard to top the first film as Gunn says; “I’m not even gonna try to top the first film. I’m just gonna make it different.” He definitely succeeds in that respect.

Overall,  I thoroughly enjoyed being swept back into the spectacle that is the colourful, funked up, punked out, retro-rock space world of the Guardians.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how this motley crew join forces with Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and the gang of Avengers when the Infinity War against Thanos begins.

Bring on Volume 3.

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