Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Resisting the temptation to tinker with a winning formula and go dark or go bigger, Vol. 2 continues in the same flippant, frivolous and often very funny way as its predecessor did. Furthermore, just like Vol. 1 models after Star Wars: A New Hope and so it is that Vol. 2 has an air of The Empire Strikes Back to it – not only in its narrative structure (thank you, Bazza, for pointing that out) but also in the father/son relationship that is so central to both films (with further homages to films such as The Blob and North by Northwest for keen cinephiles out there).  I will admit that the central theme of family as people you choose to be with as opposed to those you are actually related to, is a familiar and corny one, and the story here is thin to hang a movie that’s over 2hrs long on; but luckily the pacing never lacks momentum and the simpler story line means that the film has more time for character development for every member of the growing cast, with Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yonda (Michael Rooker) in particular gaining both screen time and dimensionality to their previous simplistic villainy.  While Vol. 2 has lost the element of surprise and the underdog status that Vol. 1 made full and effective use of, it retains Chris Pratt as its charming anchor and writer-director James Gunn, who subtly yet confidently handles the well incorporated CGIs, 80s visuals and sight gags and kickass soundtrack in an intelligent and amusing way, delivering a structured and well thought out summer blockbuster that is just too joyful to resist. With that difficult second album well and truly conquered, I, for one, cannot wait for Vol. 3.

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