Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

I’m going to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t care too much for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I saw it when it originally opened back in 2014 but only viewed it the one time, the movie just didn’t impress me, or appeal to me. Give it three years and with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” I am giving it a 5-star review. This time around, director James Gunn seems to have settled comfortably into the role of writer and director with much more ease than his first outing. Granted, with the first “Guardians,” the eyes of the world, and that of Marvel, were upon him and that must have been a huge undertaking, especially for a man used to making low-budget horror films such as “Slither” and “Tromeo and Juliet.” Here, he has delivered a non-stop, pulse-pounding, sci-fi epic that will stand tall in the annals of Marvel history, and will set the bar for what has yet to come. The visuals are absolutely eye-popping (even in 2D), the story is way less convoluted than the first one, and each of the central characters receive moments of character development throughout, something not typically traditional for this type of movie.

After the events of the first film, the Guardians are hired by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the Sovereign race, to help protect their valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional alien. After completing the task, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) requests that they release her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), whom they are holding after she herself tried to steal the batteries. After leaving the planet, the team is bewildered when they are followed by a fleet of Sovereign attack ships, only to discover, thanks to Drax (Dave Bautista), that Rocket (Bradley Cooper) stole some batteries for himself. They manage to escape to a nearby planet, seriously damaging their ship in the process but shortly after crash landing, another ship lands, and out step two beings, a female alien named Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and a man who calls himself Ego (Kurt Russell). He also claims to be Peter’s (Chris Pratt) father. Naturally, having left earth in the first film because he didn’t want to watch his mother die, and having never known who his father was, Peter is stunned, and also very wary. To prove himself to them, Ego invites them back to his home planet where Peter, Gamora, and Drax accompany him while Rocket and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) stay back to look after the ship, and guard Nebula.

When the trio reaches Ego’s planet, he reveals to them that he is actually a god-like Celestial, and has been around for millions of years. He takes whichever form occupies the planet he is on and because Peter is human, he takes the human form that he says his mother fell in love with. As Peter spends more and more time with Ego, Drax and Gamora quickly discover through Mantis, that things are not what they appear and that Ego’s true intentions, are far more sinister. Just in the nick of time, Rocket and Baby Groot arrive, to help thwart Ego’s plans but with Peter under Ego’s spell, the Guardians must fight him with everything they have. Everything just may not be enough!

There is much more humor throughout and each character bickers with each other constantly, like a family, but thankfully, never to the point of ad nauseum. Chris Pratt is charismatic as always and has done well for himself over the past few years, as have the rest of the cast but Dave Bautista, for me, was the absolute scene-stealer herein. With no filter on his mouth, he says the first thing that comes into his mind and for the audience, that is a great thing, and hopefully, for any future outings, it will only progress. And I just have to say, Baby Groot is so damn lovable, he actually brought a tear, maybe two, to my eye. It’s been a very long time since I watched a film that made me want to view it more than once so for that, James Gunn, I thank you. And I’m sure millions of others will too.

Available on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray & DVD August 22nd