Review: Wild and wacky ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ hits all the right notes in welcome return

The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, which was released in 2014, redefined what fans were accustomed to seeing not just from an entry in the celebrated Marvel Cinematic Universe but for any superhero movie. It was difficult to even describe the band of misfits out to save the galaxy from itself as heroes or antiheroes, nor was it a well-known comic book title to the general public — perhaps a good thing as it involved a talking raccoon and a living tree capable of uttering just one single line of dialogue. Armed with a chart-topping 1970’s rock soundtrack, colorful characters and even more colorful dialogue, its subsequent box office success emboldened Marvel Studios to push their creativity and imagination to new heights with further entries such as “Ant Man” and “Doctor Strange”.

Now the gang has returned to save the galaxy once again, which pleases Rocket Raccoon to no end as they can now jack up their prices for future endeavors if they’re “two-time galaxy savers”. The original crew is augmented by former antagonists Nebula and Yondu joining the crew in a hilarious, exhilarating and surprisingly heartwarming adventure that answers the lingering questions about Star-Lord/Peter Quill’s parentage in unexpected ways. The first film was saddled with introducing so many main characters and though it was expertly done, it’s a bonus for the second film that it can dive right into the action and move along even while introducing several new characters, most of them in minor roles. The main focus remains squarely on Star-Lord this time around at the expense perhaps of developing the others a bit more, but it’s a necessary move to drive the main plot. Don’t worry, everyone has their chance to shine — particularly Drax who truly settles into a pitch-perfect role as the comedic relief alongside Rocket Raccoon. And be prepared to fall in love all over again with Groot in baby form, most of all because he is just so adorable!

Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet is the perfect choice to play Star-Lord’s father and his complicated relationship with Quill and his mother is at the core of the movie (and indeed there’s a mind-bending “core” in this movie), but there are other intriguing characters introduced that will surely have larger roles to play in the inevitable third entry in the series as well as in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, such as Sylvester Stallone’s mysterious StarHawk character as well as Mantis, who serves Ego but soon realizes the extent of her powers with the help of the Guardians. While on the surface it may seem strange that the Guardians of the Galaxy again remain separate from the rest of the familiar superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameo from a new character in the upcoming “Thor: Ragnarok” sequel during the scrolling of the credits), the movie does help set things in motion for the next Avengers movie and there are several post-credits scenes worth sitting for so as always for a Marvel flick don’t leave when the movie appears to end! (As enjoyable as the movie is, it may not be suitable for younger children because of its violence, language and adult themes.)

There’s an unending feeling of fun throughout the film, something dreadfully missing from many comic book movies such as those in the DC Universe, but most importantly the chemistry and comedic timing is effortless and not forced — which could have been the case after the wild success of the first film upped the ante. The story takes plenty of twists and turns, not in the form of clichéd plot twists but more like it zigs and zags similar to how the Guardians’ Milano ship has to do to evade laser blasts in space from their many enemies. After one incredible sequence in which the Milano crash lands on a forest planet with Drax outside of the ship being towed along as if he’s water skiing, he finally lands on the ground and picks himself up laughing and pumping his fists in the air in elation. The whole movie is a similarly wild and crazy ride, and it will make you feel much like Drax did when it’s all said and done.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” will be released in U.S. theaters on Friday, May 5 2017.

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