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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (review)

Produced by Kevin Feige
Written and Directed by James Gunn
Based on Guardians of the Galaxy
by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista,
Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker,
Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki,
Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone,
and Kurt Russell


The Guardians are back in a sequel that takes them to some dark places in a way that is meant to invoke The Empire Strikes Back. (Wow, are there Daddy issues!)

It’s a fun ride that’s definitely worth your $10.

There’s a brand-new killer ’70s flashback soundtrack, ’80s stars galore, over-the-top, in-your-face set pieces and plenty (maybe a bit too much?) of Baby Groot.

I wasn’t in love with the first film, which was ridiculously over-hyped as the greatest Marvel movie ever made. It was far too in love with its own goofiness and Chris Pratt’s new pumped-up physique. And the less said about the dance-off finale, the better.

While the Guardians are a loving homage to all things Star Wars, the hard truth is that Star Lord will never be Han Solo and Pratt is certainly no Harrison Ford. He’s still more of a douchey frat boy than a witty space maverick here, but the story — in which he finally meets his dad — gives him some more serious notes to play.

About that Dad: Kurt Russell is fantastic as Ego, the mysterious father Peter Quill never knew. He shows up to save the Guardians from the Sovereigns, whom they’ve foolishly crossed, and reveals he’s been looking for Peter all this time. It seems too be good to be true, and at first Peter is suspicious that this cool dude is really his father. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) encourages him to follow Ego back to his home planet and get to know him. She and Drax (Dave Bautista) tag along, leading to some funny scenes between Drax and Ego’s empath aide Mantis (Pom Klementieff).

That leaves Rocket and Groot to repair their damaged ship while watching captive Nebula, who’s still plotting to kill sister Gamora.

Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker) is out to capture the Guardians and collect the million-dollar bounty put out by the Sovereigns — that is, if he can keep down a mutiny of his crew.

Gamora, who was so stiff in the first film, here loosens up and admits she might have “an unspoken thing” with Peter. She also deals with her toxic relationship with her sister. (There, just passed the Bechdel Test!)

We also see some tenderness in Yondu and Rocket, who end up bonding. Yondu, who’s still smarting from being kicked out of the Ravagers (led by Sylvester Stallone), really becomes the film’s VIP.

And (especially after his turn in brother James’s The Belko Experiment), I am loving the very funny Sean Gunn as Yondu’s second-in command.

Another newcomer, Elizabeth Debecki (The Night Manager) is great as the Sovereign’s regal, golden ruler Ayesha.

The climactic showdown is lengthier than it needs to be (and involves some truly funky CGI), but if you’re not tearing up by the end, you are far more cynical than I am.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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