Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 The Space Western to Watch

There’s no doubt that Marvel’s 2014 surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy opened the door for more comedic, irreverent sci-fi and superhero stories like Deadpool and Logan to rake in billions at the box office and on-demand. But rather than ramping things up and trying to top those flicks or even its own predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 keeps its PG-13 rating and its devil-may-care goofy sweetness, too.

Chris Pratt is back in this swashbuckling space-western as Peter Quill (aka, “Star Lord”), and we pick up the new adventure as he and his fellow scavengers, The Guardians — Zoe Saldana's green-gal Gamora, the snarky Bradley Cooper-voiced raccoon Rocket, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Groot (Vin Diesel) — are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from insidious invaders.

When it’s revealed that Rocket has stolen the very thing they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to get vengeance on the ragtag gang. As the Guardians work on their tricky escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed. Or is it? Ego (Kurt Russell), an all-powerful being who claims to be his long-lost father, might just be trying too hard to convince the gang that he’s legit. The paternity test? Ego and Quill both have big love for Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl), the 1972 hit by Looking Glass.

The comedic inclusion of a 1970s soundtrack (before she passed away, Quill’s mom gave him two “Awesome Mix Tapes” to remember her by) is amped up quite a bit in the sequel. Maybe too much for younger audiences, but at least there’s a reason for the relentless FM-staples as far as the plot goes. And that’s not the only nostalgic element to the story: Quill talks about all the TV shows he used to watch when he lived on Earth, and pines for simpler pop-culture times. (Plus, there’s a Sylvester Stallone cameo!)

While the Guardians grapple with new villains that include Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha and Karen Gillan as Nebula, they’ve also got their old nemesis: blue-faced space pirate Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) pulling some strings along the way and adding to Peter’s paternal angst (Udonta is his adoptive father, and let’s just say their relationship is complicated). All of this adds up to wild chase sequences (rife with dance-moves), plus a few heart-tugging moments. There is some snarky, salty language, relatively violent action, and a few minor sexual references, but it’s OK for older tweens and teens.

Though it’s undoubtedly entertaining, some of the initial spark is missing. This may be due in part to the fact that one of the writers is missing. Previously, director and writer James Gunn teamed up with Nicole Perlman. But this time around, he probably couldn’t get her…Guardians of the Galaxy was her first produced writing credit, and since then she has racked up nonstop, impressive, big-studio credits. (She’s definitely an inspiration to girls who want to become writers!) For fans of the first, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be a fun if fallow romp.

Will you be watching the Guardians this time around?

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