Many viewers have been disrespectfully critical of certain aspects of the Marvel cinematic universe films, one of them being the Marvel movies all tend to look, feel, sound and come off as the same kind of movie with very little variation. I find that argument baseless and hollow; seeing as how I have watched and purchased every Marvel movie available and know fully well just how unique and distinctive they can be. Easily the strangest breed of animal among the mix is James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a film about a random bunch of bizarre, obscure comic book characters set to the backdrop of songs you heard buzzing from the oldies channel on your radio.

Now Gunn has brought the A-holes of the universe back in a much-anticipated sequel to one of Marvel’s strangest films ever, this is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” As the guardians: Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) continue to cause problems and explosions for most of the galaxy, they run into an unexpected visitor from Peter’s past. Ego (Kurt Russell), a living planet in human form claims to be Peter’s father and has been searching for Peter to make up for lost time. However, not everyone is sure of his intentions, and with enemies both new and old popping up, the Guardians are in for a wild ride that will test the limits of their ‘family’ bonds.

One thing I noticed right away in “Guardians 2” is relying less on the plot devices and interconnecting details, and just taking time out to really focus on these characters and explore them in ways we never got to see before. The plot with Ego is merely one story and it’s not really complex and layered with elaborate twists and turns like in “Dark Knight Rises” for example, but this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. James Gunn knows how to keep the audience irresistibly connected to this wild bunch of oddballs without needing some epic Infinity stone laced plot to bring them together. We get to really know these characters, and not just the main cast but also the likes of Nebula (Karen Gillian), Yondu (Michael Rooker) and newcomer Mantis (Pom Klementieff).

“Guardians 2” takes everything that was flawless with the first film and adds some polish to it; brandishing the same humor, the same charm and the colorful surge of chemistry, color, and action as before. The new soundtrack integrates music throughout the entire film, breathing new life into classic songs and blasting you with them on a constant basis. The cast is well…honestly…I challenge anyone to find a fault in these stars performances because I sure as Hell can’t. Bautista, Cooper, and Diesel are like comedy machine guns, they’re constantly bombarding you with jaw aching comedy and if anything; they’ve only gotten better since last time. Personally, I think the true standouts worth everyone’s praise are newcomer Kurt Russell as Ego and the amazingly underappreciated Michael Rooker as Yondu.

The themes of the family may seem like an obvious and overly used trope but aside from the obvious staple with Ego and Star-Lord bonding, the other family themes come in naturally and relevant enough that it doesn’t feel too sappy or on the nose. In a weird way, “Guardians 2” reminds me of this one song from “Phineas and Ferb”, where the titular character’s mother has a brief career as one hit wonder pop star and she sings “I’m Lindanna and I wanna have fun.” That’s really what I feel “Guardians 2” is: it wants to be itself and just have fun and that’s exactly what it does. We laughing and growing with these characters, learning more about their pasts and family histories, but more importantly, were having a good time with them having fun and if you get that sense of fun and liked it in “Guardians 1” you’re gonna like it here in “Guardians 2.”

Overall, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” truly distances itself from Marvel’s cinematic universe by just letting this rowdy bunch of alien A-holes do their own thing, expand their family trees and expand a LOT of humor as well and frankly…that’s all I could ask for here. The cast delivers solid gold on all points, especially Russell and Rooker, the humor is relentless and riveting at the same time, the action and music never fails to entertain and the high its riding just stays on from start to finish. “Guardians 2” is the bigger, funnier, more character driven and music loaded expansion of everything that made the first “Guardians” such a monumental hit. If you liked “Guardians” even a little bit, this film will take that interest and kick it up a notch.

I give “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” 3 stars out of 4.