In 2014, Marvel Studios released a new type of superhero film: one that was based on comedy and character development rather than action.  “Guardians of the Galaxy” dazzled fans with its witty script, celebrated cast and a ’70s soundtrack that perfectly tied the film together. With the success of the film, Marvel quickly followed suit with “Ant-Man” in 2015, “Deadpool” in 2016 and, most recently, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Marvel is continuing to produce comedic superhero films and plans to release “Deadpool 2” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in 2018. Although many Hollywood sequels often fall short of expectations, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” comes close in matching the humor and charm of the original.

The film continues to follow the adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy — a group of extraterrestrial outcasts who use their powers to protect the universe from intergalactic threats — as they  uncover the mysterious relationship between their leader Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, and his father. Although the main story is centered on the reconnection of Quill and his father, there is a multitude of subplots that give the film a deeper sense of complexity than the original, introducing new allies and enemies for the Guardians.

With the return of all five members of the main team — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel — and the additions of Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, the film is able to minimize the unfortunate losses of original cast members John C. Reilly and Benicio del Toro. Reilly played Rhomann Dey, a friend of Peter Quill’s, and del Toro played the Collector, a powerful Elder of the Universe . Although Dey and the Collector were not very instrumental to the plot of the original film, the characters certainly added depth to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” universe — and of course, Reilly and del Toro’s comedic chops were put to good use.

Despite the departures of Reilly and del Toro, the chemistry between the cast members remains flawless, and is a feature of  the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series that makes it so enjoyable to watch. Throughout the film, the interactions between characters seem natural and are a constant source of entertainment, especially as the Guardians exchange hilarious insults with each other — and their enemies.  “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” enhances existing character development, building on the team’s lively dynamic established in the first film and deepening the relationships between the Guardians, particularly as the superheroes face new challenges and threats of betrayal.

Although all of the actors deliver excellent performances, Dave Bautista upstages the rest of the cast with his depiction of Drax the Destroyer, whose oblivious yet deadpan sense of humor is one of the highlights of the film.

In addition to developing captivating relationships between characters, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is extremely successful in incorporating comedy throughout its script — a feat that defined the original. The film delights audiences with its unrefined yet entertaining sense of humor,  distinctive to movies like “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Gunn succeeds in bringing more comedy to the new film, making “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” even more upbeat than the original. Ultimately, he creates a film that provides audiences with more opportunities to laugh than even recent comedy films.

The one clear, and very disappointing, flaw in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is its soundtrack.  “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1,” the album that accompanied the original film, is arguably one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, as illustrated by its No. 1 position on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for best album. Although “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” features songs by beloved artists, like Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison and Cheap Trick, the film’s soundtrack is unable to capture the playful essence of the music of the original.

Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is an entertaining and humorous film that tells a compelling story, seamlessly picking up just two months after where the original ends. Given the critical acclaim of the first film, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was expected to meet tremendously high standards, and surprisingly, succeeds in being nearly as good as the original, avoiding Hollywood’s predictable sequel slump. The film leaves fans feeling hopeful and excited for the upcoming third film in the franchise, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” also to be written and directed by Gunn — and establishes the series as one of Marvel’s finest works to date.

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