The Guardians of the Galaxy are back for a whole new adventure! If you liked the first movie you’ll almost certainly like this one! If you didn’t, you probably won’t! That’s really all that has to be said about this movie if we’re being honest.

I love these movies. They’re so wild, they’re so out there, with really fun, odd, eclectic characters. The introduction of living legend Kurt Russell as Peter Quill’s father, Ego, the Living Planet, is great – and maybe the best use of de-aging special effects so far – and the depiction of the character is fun enough that it doesn’t raise too many questions (though, I couldn’t help but wonder – if Kurt Russell is just playing an avatar for Ego, why would he have aged at all?). It’s such an over-the-top character, and it’s clear that Russell is having a lot of fun here. In a big movie, and a big role like Ego, the only real choice you can make as an actor is to go big, and Russell is at his biggest and broadest to the benefit of the film.

Zoe Saldana is great. This has been true for a long time. She’s one of the few actresses who can really shine through the makeup and special effects work around her – this was also true in Avatar, and is true here. The emotional frailty of her character and the minimalism she’s able to convey even through the makeup, is special.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, like its predecessor, is bright and energetic, colorful and funny. A lot has been made of DC’s attempt at a faux-GOTG style film in Suicide Squad. If we’re being honest, the only real similarity between the two is extensive use of music cues. However, there are some differences between the two; for one thing, in GOTG, there’s at least an attempt to make the cues diegetic, and more importantly, the song choices are a lot more subtle. In Suicide Squad, songs are chosen to evoke associations that have been long-established in pop culture – the laziest, most obvious song choices. Guardians of the Galaxy (and Vol. 2) chooses popular songs, to be sure – “Mr. Blue Sky”, by Electric Light Orchestra, has appeared in many-a-film – but it often uses songs in new contexts or in ways that are surprising.

These Marvel films are incredibly wrapped up in internal mythology, in connecting to the broader universe, and often have many boxes to check thematically. There’s not a lot of room for the stories to veer off of a the specific Marvel story template. As a result, the best way for these films to differentiate themselves is through style and tone. In the case of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, director James Gunn has established himself as a master of style and tone.

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