“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” gives more awesome and MOAR GROOT

Because 1) this is the best damn poster ever, and 2) y’all know what the Guardians look like. So, GROOT!

Nutshell: Hey, remember how Guardians of the Galaxy was an amazeballs kickass good time?  Well, get ready for more of the same.  The gang is a more cohesive unit this go-round, and the set design and FX are a trippy blend of the first film and Doctor Strange‘s far-out multiverse.  Good times y’all.  Or, as a certain twig would say; I am Groot!  Grade: A

“That was awesome!  Yes!”

Story: Those bunch of a-holes are still doing their thing, with the usual blend of success, failure, and screw-ups.  But things really go nuts when Star Lord’s dad Ego (because of course) enters the picture.  Can the gang sort out their issues, figure out what’s up with Ego, and dodge the inevitable throng of folks gunning for their hides? GROOT!

Genre I’d put it in: Kickass Marvel Sequels That Avoid Sophomore Slump

Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and based on the Marvel comics.

Gotta say: The juggernaut that was Guardians of the Galaxy was surprising only in the intensity of the love shown to these heretofore little-known characters.  Could Marvel pull off another round of well thought out, emotionally satisfying funtimes with this crew?  Oh yeah, you betcha.  Marvel needs to do whatever it takes to lock down James Gunn for however many GotG films they’re planning on dishing out.  Gunn’s ability to take the source material and spin it into box office gold is in fine form here, and I just don’t want it to end.

Speaking of fine form, the cast is just as groovy.  Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana have great onscreen chemistry, and their “Sam and Diane thing” works well without derailing the overall story.  Dave Bautista showed he could do straight-guy humor and genuine pathos in the first film, and really hones his craft here.  No small feat, what with all that latex.

Karen Gillan and Michael Rooker reprise their roles as Gamora’s sister-with-issues Nebula and Peter Quill/Star Lord’s former boss Yondu, and are given more to do in this film.  In fact, as they’re on the poster I think I can say that their roles as antiheroes breathe life into the Guardians, adding a new twist to the dynamic between the gang.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing how Nebula goes forward after this film.  Will she best her inner demons, or become this series’ Loki?  Time will tell, and with Gillian’s fine performance here, I can’t wait.

As Ego’s assistant (and possible new Guardian’s member) Mantis, Pom Klementieff, plays it sweet but gets to unleash a bit of badass when the moment calls for it; her performance works with the original members, and has just the right amount of otherness mixed with camaraderie.  And of course Vin Disel and Bradley Cooper are amazing as the voices of Baby Groot and Rocket.  One of my favorite scenes is a discussion between Yondu and Rocket.  Glad to see Gunn gives Cooper something to sink his chops into.

Without getting too spoiler-y, this is more of a Love Boat style film, with several subplots doing their thing before they all come together.  And that lets individual characters shine, and avoids the Field Trip Day feel large ensemble pieces can give off.  In Vol. 2, it’s not just a bunch of folks all huddled together.  They’re each doing their part, and Gunn’s screenplay weaves these interconnected stories into a cohesive whole.  All the while giving us plenty of Baby Groot.  No, not so much of his adorableness to make it cloying or twee.  This doesn’t feel milked for effect (though I’m quite sure that’s the case, thanks to his huge popularity in the first film), as he’s got his own things to do.  And that’s all I’ll say about that, except for one teensy, weensy spoiler: GROOTYAWN.  It’s as adorable as you think.  Look for it.

Music?  Uh, of course.  Awesome Mixtape #2 is awesome, and Gunn uses these tunes to maximum effect.  Though the first two tracks – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I Want You Back” were played in the first film, expect the usual amounts of 70s radio favorites that’ll remind you of summer at the pool.  Or remind your parents of summer by the pool.  You kids get off my lawn.

Final thoughts?  Definitely spring for the 3D if that’s your jam, or simply go with the largest screen you can get your eyeballs to.  The set design and visual effects are amazing, and you’ll want to sink into the glorious acid-trip scenes as well as the pew-pew grandiosity of the battle sequences.  (Also, the bigger the screen, the easier it is to notice those little Easter Eggs scattered abou…I’ve said too much.)  Go already.  You know you want to.

#Protip: Stay through the end credits, because there are FIVE post-credit scenes.  You heard me. FIVE.  Oh, and pay attention to the pictures scattered among the credits; you’ll see a few teasers for characters that’ll be coming….soon.

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