Peter Quill’s Walkman is playing Awesome Mix Tape #2. This is writer-director James Gunn’s major carry forward from the first part of the hit intergalactic adventure movie from 2014. The songs on that tape signpost all the shenanigans, space battles and events that engage the guardians of the galaxy. Fleetwood Mac, ELO, Sam Cooke, Glen Campbell and George Harrison are some of the artists whose tunes set the rhythm for the action for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldanha) and Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel).

In the opening credits of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, a cutesy Baby Groot dances with abandon as ELO’s Mr Blue Sky plays off an old-fashioned amplifier and speakers even as a mad fight between the guardians and a large monster is going on in the background. Monster vanquished, the guardians leave the planet and the batteries they were protecting to head to their next mission. For some reason, these batteries are very precious to the golden inhabitants of planet Sovereign. So when they discover a few are missing, they dispatch a fleet of fighter crafts in pursuit of the guardians, alerted to the batteries Rocket has sneakily stolen.


If not a space attack, then an asteroid field is the next best visual obstacle course for a space adventure and the guardians have to contend with one too. Fortunately they are rescued by Ego (Kurt Russell). The name itself should have sounded a warning bell, but Peter is lured by the idea of having finally met his father. Peter, Gamora and Drax accompany Ego to his home planet, also named Ego, where Peter is presented with an opportunity to discover his true celestial heritage. Ego (the planet) looks like an ornate jewel box, a narcissistic but uninteresting boudoir, which makes Gamora uneasy.

In the meanwhile, in a different planetary system, Rocket and Baby Groot are custodians of prisoner Nebula (Karen Gillan), but they are also facing attack from new foes. A rebel group of space pirates overthrows the blue-skinned Yondu (Michael Rooker) and takes on a commission to capture the guardians.

Gunn’s script works overtime to repeat the crazy fun of the first part, but the plot lines in Vol 2 are clumsily manufactured. There are moments of sheer delight, like seeing David Hasselhoff, nostalgic references to 1980s pop culture, cameos by Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh and Ving Rhames, and a running gag about a space pirate named Taserface (Chris Sullivan). At other times, the effects, story and gags unsuccessfully work overtime to impress I might have liked Vol 2 even less if it wasn’t for the music and cute Baby Groot.