The a-holes are back for another trip through the cosmos. In 2014 we were introduced to Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot in a very enjoyable space adventure that occupied another corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will director James Gunn repeat the success he helmed 3 years ago? Or would this film suffer the same fate as many sequels?

The adventure picks up mere months after the film and the Guardians are doing what they do best, taking care of business for others. After the film opens with another fun musical selection (Come and Get You Love opening the original is still on of my favorite theater experiences) the team is on the run after Rocket steals some powerful batteries from the same client who hired them to retrieve them. After a pursuit, the Guardians are stranded and from this point on we are treated to a new adventure which involves the mystery of Peter Quill’s heritage.

All the elements that made Guardians of the Galaxy a great film are still present in Vol 2. A core group of quirky characters, humorous situations, a splashy sci-fi backdrop, a banging soundtrack, great dialogue and some really nice earnest moments. However this time we get all of that and more, as Vol 2 gives us some fantastic side stories involving characters who didn’t get as much shine in the prior film. If I were to relate this to video games, I would compare it with Bioware’s Mass Effect games. the original Mass Effect was a great introduction to the series, but it was Mass Effect 2 that raised the bar with expanding the world and giving us development with characters outside of the main focus.

About 1/3rd of the way through the film our  heroes split up. I liked the story taking this route becuase it allowed for some breathing room with the characters. The focus of the first film was to bring these people together so taking the time to have some time apart did wonders for the character growth.

We get some great side stories involving Gamora and Nebula, Yondu and Rocket, and also some moments with Drax and Mantis that were actually more interesting for me than Peter’s individual storyline. And that’s not a slight becuase there were some great moments there as well. There were a couple of lines that straight up gut-punched me with their sincerity. A lot of sequels have issues with expanding while giving us more of what we love and Vol 2 gives us new layers to characters we already knew. It’s a great balance with the material we already expect from a Guardians film and the MCU. Even the film’s villain has a story that has you in his shoes despite the path that he’s going to eventually take. I actually find it the gem of this story that focuses on the fact that blood isn’t always family. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is an awesome continuation of the adventures of the ragtag group. Everything that people loved is still there plus more with great character moments for almost everyone while maintaining its balance and never feeling overstuffed or overlong.

Final Rating: 3.5/4

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