The opening sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tells you everything you need to know about what's in store for Marvel's cosmic ensemble; keeping the retro space adventure style that made the original a standout hit, the sequel goes on to compliment and at times surpass its predecessor.
If the first movie is about a group of misfits coming together, Vol. 2 tests that bond, always drawing the film back to its central theme: family.
While the film puts a strong focus on the characters and their development, it still has its fair share of action and it's in these sequences that the sequel's style truly comes alive. Always accompanied by a track from the well curated soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 2. It creates a foundation for several well choreographed, visually stunning moments that are all interesting, self contained stories in their own right. Almost like several great music videos spread across the film that gives a welcome change to its slower paced moments.
However, these slower moments aren't to be mistaken for weaknesses, as it’s here that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 can be found at its best. These scenes explore each character, the guardians: Star-Lord, whose relationship with his father serves as the main plot thread, Gamora, Rocket, Drax and Baby Groot. As well as giving some of the previous film's supporting cast, Nebula and Yondu, full ensemble status for the sequel and introducing new characters and villains.
Each character gets their own satisfying arc and while some are given more time than others they tell the audience who these characters are and what brings them together. The only exception is the antagonists - a recurring problem Marvel has with its villains outside of Loki - and Baby Groot who while has little development, unsurprisingly steals the show in many of his scenes in multiple adorable and comedic moments.
While the Guardians are given separate plot threads, they all converge during the third act showing their development as characters and development as a family, which makes up the emotional core of the film exploring ideas of what is family and what makes a person a part of a family.
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great film in its own right, one can't review a Marvel movie without taking into account the larger cinematic universe. In this case the film largely stands alone by putting a light-year or two between the constant crossing over of The Avengers and making little reference to ongoing galactic threats such as the inevitable arrival of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War that will finally see the two sides of the Marvel cinematic universe collide.
The Guardians of the Galaxy sequel is greatly enjoyable in the same way as the first with a style that combines music and colorful visuals into a stunning audio visual experience. It also goes a level deeper into the characters showing the audience who they are and what makes them a family drawn to saving the galaxy.
(P.S stick around during the credits for a typical Marvel post-credits scene, only this time there’s five of them.)