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It might lack some of the freshness of the original – but this sequel is still an epic adventure that reaches for the stars.

This follow-up to 2014’s surprise smash hit superhero ensemble is a little overstuffed with some pacing issues, but director James Gunn doesn’t let it get out of control by pulling it together to provide another entertaining family thrill ride.

Again, there’s humour in abundance – it’s probably even funnier than the first film – with several terrific action set-pieces and multiple plot lines that takes Volume Two above the genre norm – particularly when you factor in another cracking soundtrack.

Set to the backdrop of Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) Awesome Mixtape 2 (Sam Cooke, ELO, Fleetwood Mac to name a few), the newly-formed Guardians team – which includes Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and (now Baby) Groot (Vin Diesel) – continue their adventures, this time looking to unravel the mysteries of Quill’s true parentage, which involves Kurt Russell’s ancient and mysterious cosmic being called Ego, The Living Planet.

In fact it’s this main quest where the film is at its weakest (and will probably be at its most boring to youngsters), with the sub-plots providing the high points. These include old foes Yondu (Michael Rooker) – see his movie-stealing ship escape after his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny – and Nebula (Karen Gillan) showing some strained allegiance, the introduction of Pom Klementieff’s empathic-powered Mantis, and Rocket antagonising Elizabeth Debicki’s (The Man from UNCLE) perfectionist Sovereign race after an enigmatic opening scene.

But the over-riding enjoyment still centres on the top-notch humour interludes which is headlined by Rocket/Taserface, Drax/Mantis and Baby Groot’s attempts to help Yondu/Rocket fight for freedom mini scenes, which are immediately worth a second viewing alone.

The female protagonists are a little underused – particularly the tagged-on Gamora/Nebula sisterly relationship – as well as slightly tedious ‘will they, won’t they?’ Star-Lord/Gamora continuation from the first film, but these are minor gripes with Gunn pretty much hitting the target once again throughout the action-packed duration.

It’s probably just a shade under the overall quality of the more compact original – it’s a bit like what Star Trek: Into Darkness was to the 2009 reboot – but there’s no denying this enigmatic rag-tag team are now firm fan favourites in Marvel’s impressively evolving cinematic universe.

Gunn has undoubtedly fired out another golden box-office bullet, and after this Star-Lord’s posse will undoubtedly have a major impact in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War.

And that is simply a mouth-watering prospect of galactic proportions.

Gavin Miller [youtube id=”rEpsPXUt4R0″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

Cast: Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, Sean Gunn, Laura Haddock, Michelle Yeoh, Michael Rosenbaum, Ving Rhames, and the voices of Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel

Running Time: 2 Hrs16 Mins

Director: James Gunn

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