Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (3 stars)

Chris Pratt and co are at it again in James Gunn's funny, CGI-heavy follow-up

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Marvel's ragtag team of galaxy-defending guardians are back. Once again directed by James Gunn, Vol. 2 doesn't veer too far from the formula. Monsters, space travel, planets, and 1970s rock music – much of which comes together in the opening credits as earthling Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), bare-chested man mountain Drax (Dave Bautista) and the raccoon-like Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) do battle with a giant gooey alien.

Meanwhile, linguistically-challenged mini-tree Baby Groot shows us just how far his disco-dancing has come, grooving away to ELO's 'Mr. Blue Sky'. Once again voiced by Vin Diesel – yes, he can still only say 'I am Groot' – this computer-generated cutey steals just about every scene he's in, whether he's catching 40 winks on Drax's shoulder, enjoying a tub of sweeties as he watches a space battle, or trying to remember the sequence of switches to launch a bomb.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The plot rollicks around; Rocket steals some valuable batteries from the gold-skinned Sovereign race led by Elizabeth Debicki's High Priestess, Ayesha, which in turn leads to a chase through an asteroid field, an emergency landing and a convenient encounter with Ego (Kurt Russell), who purports to be Quill's long-lost father. The family motif is extended further with Gamora's ongoing battles with her tormented sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), while Quill's surrogate papa – Michael Rooker's space pirate Yondu – also returns.

It's very CGI-heavy, which gets a little wearisome halfway through when the Guardians decamp to Ego's self-generated planet. Fortunately, the humour still charms – particularly Drax's socially inappropriate comments towards Ego's antenna-sporting minion Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Sly fans will enjoy Stallone's cameo as one of Yondu's fellow Ravagers, and the finale picks up the threads after a sluggish second act. Tears, romance, turd jokes – it's all here, wrapped in a big messy bow.

General release from Fri 28 Apr.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 137 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: James Gunn
  • Written by: James Gunn
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Glenn Close, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Kurt Russell
  • UK release: 28 April 2017

The gang are back, with a rollicking plot involving stolen batteries and Ego (Russell) who may or may not be the long-lost dad of Peter Quill (Pratt). It’s very CGI-heavy, sometimes tiringly so, but the humour still charms and the finale picks it up after a sluggish second act.

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