Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2       
Written and directed by
James Gunn             
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper             
Duration: 137 minutes

Peter Quill (Star-Lord) keeps on guiding the unlikely group of “heroes”, but the excesses of Rocket forces them into a hasty escape. To save them from the rage of the golden-skinned Sovereign comes a mysterious figure claiming to be Peter’s father, calling himself Ego and basically declaring himself to be… a god! Quill follows him onto his planet, but not everything is as it looks…

Foul-mouthed and irreverent (to the point of earning a cautious PG-13 rating in the US), splattered with psychedelic colour and full of nudge-nudge, wink-wink in-jokes, Guardians of the Galaxy’s second chapter (or better, “volume”, in reference to the protagonist’s beloved mixtapes which he listens to on his trusty Walkman) expands its winning formula of rapid exchanges and spectacular battles. But the focus is squarely on the relationships between characters who conquered audiences worldwide in the first “volume”.

Chris Pratt’s boastful yet tender Star-Lord, the stoic and loyal Gamora, the massive Drax, the annoying racoon bounty-hunter Rocket and, naturally, the cute Baby Groot (the last two voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel), are the unlikely (anti)heroes who will end up saving the universe all over again.

Family ties (natural or acquired) are the heart of the story. In fact, the event that triggers the story is the appearance of Star Lord’s long-lost father, played by Kurt Russell, with an effective mix of carelessness and solidity. The theme of fatherhood (as well as brotherhood) is later re-explored with the other characters, letting each one of them to have a space in the story without allowing anyone to overstay their welcome.

So by the end of the extremely confusing narrative, the group has grown more solid and the foundations for Volume 3 are laid. I hope that director James Gunn can preserve that delicate balance between psychological realism and taste for excess and mockery that are the trademark of the Guardians.

At the heart of the story there is still a confrontation between possessive love and sacrificial love. In these moments, without ever lapsing into melodrama, the narrative has a surprising seriousness that miraculously never clashes with the general tone of galactic joking around.

The violence, though made less realistic by the soundtrack and dialogue, is still notable. But there is no shortage of humour, references to the 80s and 90s pop culture and nods to other Marvel franchises. Great fun.

Problematic elements: foul language, cartoonish violence

Luisa Cotta Ramosino is an Italian television writer and creative producer; she is also a regular contributor to the website Sentieri del cinema and Scegliere un film, an annual collection of film reviews.

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