Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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In this week’s episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entitled “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the ragtag group of space-rogues led by self-described “Star-Lord” Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) meets a new friend: Peter’s father, played by Special Guest Star Kurt Russell! Peter never knew anything about his dad, only that he was not an Earthling and that he left Peter and his mom behind.

“GOTGv2,” again written and directed by James Gunn, has the same tone and attitude as its predecessor — think glib “Star Trek” — and much of the same swashbuckling space action. It begins with baby Groot dancing to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” while Peter says, “Showtime, a-holes,” and the Guardians fight a giant space-squid. Fun, you know? Kind of the same fun as last time, and this is at least the 10th film this century to feature “Mr. Blue Sky,” but still. Fun.

But it’s missing some of the pizzazz. Part of that is due to the storyline, which has low stakes and is surprisingly uncomplicated for a Marvel movie. The Guardians do a job for a race of narcissists called the Sovereigns, and as payment get custody of Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) adopted sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), a fugitive who’s wanted in space-court for her crimes in the first film. But Rocket the space-raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper by way of George Costanza) steals the Sovereigns’ valuable space-batteries (the same things Nebula was caught trying to steal), making enemies of the Sovereigns. It’s while fleeing them that the Guardians meet Peter’s father, an immortal being named Ego (a bit on the nose) who has created his own planet and lives there with Mantis (Pom Klementieff), a bug-like empath woman with whom the hulking Drax (Dave Bautista) develops a rapport.

[Continue reading at Crooked Marquee.]

B- (2 hrs., 16 min.; PG-13, some profanity, a couple of suggestive lines, sci-fi action and violence.)