GUARDIANS of the Galaxy’s second instalment raked in almost £12million at the UK box office in its first weekend in cinemas.

The Disney movie was only behind the studio’s own Beauty and the Beast for its opening weekend takings as the ‘House of Mouse’ continues to dominate the entertainment industry.

Not bad for a film that features a baby tree, a wisecracking raccoon, a warrior with a rambunctious sense of humour and almost as many multicoloured alien species as Star Wars.

But Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is more proof that Disney and Marvel Studios have come to deeply understand their audience.

The producers know that bringing the pages of comic books to life requires not just a massive investment financially but a team with skill and passion – and with that Guardians 2 really delivers.

The sequel follows on from the original film – the surprise, huge hit of 2014 – with the story this time focused on Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) discovering the identity of his father.

James Gunn, returning to the director’s chair, ramps up all the ingredients that made the original a hit including the quirky charm, humour, wild and convention breaking characters, pop culture references and the joyous retro soundtrack (just wait until you see the opening sequence).

If you pick apart the story in isolation, Guardians 2 is the weaker of the two films.

The main plot of the series, as a whole, involving galactic supervillain Thanos does not even get a look-in.

But this is more than made up for with the character development and sense of camaraderie, plus it is probably the funniest comic book movie out there.

The less said about Sylvester Stallone’s dud role the better but it is impossible not to be charmed by Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Kurt Russell shines in a guest role as the god-like character Ego and Pratt is every part the leading man as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.

The film also sees Peter’s relationship with Gamora (Zoe Saldana develop in a satisfying way while her rivalry with her sister (Karen Gillan) simmers in the background.

Anti-hero Yondu (Michael Rooker) also truly gets his moment in the sun.

But who really stands out is former wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax. As well as a fantastic physical performance, his energy, delivery and comic timing is one of the joys of the film.

RATING: 8.5/10