Fab fol­low-up is just cos­mic

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

Very few non-comic book afi­ciona­dos will have heard of the Guardians of the Gal­axy prior to their 2014 movie.

But fol­low­ing the wildly en­ter­tain­ing block­buster’s crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess, the wise-crack­ing anti-he­roes are no longer Mar­vel’s plucky un­der­dogs – they are bona fide su­per­stars who will share a screen with the Avengers in next year’s In­fin­ity War.

As a re­sult, ex­pec­ta­tion lev­els for this se­quel were sky high, es­pe­cially with all the key play­ers – led by writer-di­rec­tor James Gunn – back on board and in­trigu­ing new cast ad­di­tions in­clud­ing one-time Tango & Cash Kurt Rus­sell (Ego) and Sylvester Stal­lone (Stakar Ogord).

Thank­fully, there’s no law of di­min­ish­ing re­turns here as Gunn treats us to another riotous ad­ven­ture that’s ev­ery bit as de­light­ful and en­gag­ing as the first flick.

He’s taken some in­spi­ra­tion from The Em­pire Strikes Back as he splits the team in two for a large chunk of pro­ceed­ings and sad­dles Chris Pratt’s (Star-Lord) lead with daddy is­sues that im­pact on the whole uni­verse.

But don’t ex­pect Em­pire lev­els of dark­ness. Sure there are mo­ments of gloom – corpses float­ing in space, a gut-punch­ing rev­e­la­tion about Star-Lord’s mother – but Guardians Vol.2 is crammed with zest, en­ergy and hi­lar­ity.

From Pratt’s rogue-with-a-heart to Michael Rooker’s (Yondu) lay­ered buc­ca­neer, you’ll strug­gle to find a weak link in the cast chain. The Vin Diesel-voiced Baby Groot (“too adorable to kill”) steals scenes along­side cranky buddy Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his cut­ting jibes.

Ex-wrestler Dave Bautista’s Drax and his hearty laugh­ter and mis-pro­nounced names are com­edy gold and Zoe Sal­dana (Gamora) and Karen Gil­lan’s (Ne­bula) war­ring sib­lings are given more to work with this time around.

As is of­ten the case with Mar­vel se­quels, there are a lot of new char­ac­ters – and lo­ca­tions – thrown into the mix and while some may strug­gle to keep up with ev­ery­thing go­ing on, Rus­sell de­liv­ers grandeur in spades and Pom Kle­men­ti­eff ’s doe-eyed Man­tis per­fectly slots into scenes with the Guardians.

Gunn’s flair for funny is stun­ning; from sev­ered toes and clas­sic ar­cade game-style re­mote-pi­loted space­ships to a dis­cus­sion about who has tape at a cru­cial mo­ment, your face mus­cles will be hurt­ing af­ter­wards from all the laugh­ter.

The di­rec­tor films us­ing a kalei­do­scope of rain­bow colours and sets up mu­si­cal queues for another top 70s and 80s-tas­tic sound­track.

It’s very ef­fects-heavy – with some scenes look­ing a lit­tle video-gamey – but this is cos­mic Mar­vel af­ter all, and it builds to a fist-pump­ing fi­nal show­down and poignant de­noue­ment.

Gunn’s su­perla­tive squad of scoundrels once again prove to be such wicked cool com­pany you’d pay to watch them sat on a couch trad­ing barbs.

I can’t wait to see them try to out-snark Tony Stark, butt heads with The Hulk and hor­rify Cap­tain America with their lan­guage.

Com­edy goldPratt and Bautista shine in the comic book se­quel

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