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The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps moving along in the right direction, and one of the main reasons for their success is their ability to creatively think outside the box. Case in point is the choice of Super filmmaker James Gunn to direct 2014’s mega-hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn’s character and genre driven sensibilities seamlessly blended into the film’s epic visual scale and narrative.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 could have been a rehash of the original, and fans would have probably forgiven the sequel if Gunn solely relied on the eye catching special affects and the pure chemistry of the leads. Though the heart of this story centers on Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) relationship with his long lost father Ego (Kurt Russell), the rest of the Guardians are given ample time to develop their respective arcs (one surprising element features the growing bond between Drax and Mantis). As evidenced by Gunn’s prominent use of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 centers on the importance of family, and the film doesn’t chintz on developing meaty back stories for its seemingly most incidental characters. The aforementioned Mantis (Pom Klementieff), gold-faced antagonist Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), Gamora’s vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), and returnee Yondu (Michael Rooker, delivering the film’s most memorable performance) all get their chance to shine. Instead of littering his 136 minute film with wall to wall action, Gunn also spends time developing the relationships among the Guardians and the extended family who may either break their chain or enhance their lives. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may take a few more left turns than its predecessor, but these seeming detours pay off with a resonant final act.

Along with several informative special features that delve into the making of the film, the Blu-ray also comes with five minutes worth of deleted scenes. One sequence is an expansion of an end credits sequence that, without giving too much away, displays Pratt’s improvisational gift. Another deleted scene, which again is an extended version of a scene that’s in the film, offers up a bit more screen time to Mantis and it’s also worth a look if you’re a fan of the character.

Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t suffer from the sophomore slump and as one of the end credits teased the Guardians will have an even more interesting villain to face them in the future.

Click on the media bar below to hear Zoe Saldana discuss Gamora’s bond with Star-Lord:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now out on Blu-ray.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi