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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (3-D) | Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone | Review

The quarrelsome quintet doesn’t miss a beat as they continue their galactic  adventures with a full out battle during the opening credits, introducing us to a mischievous, mini- Groot (Vin Diesel, voice) as he wanders amid the carnage.  Fellow guardians Quill (Chris Pratt) Gamora (Zoe Saldana) Rocket (Bradley Cooper, voice) and Drax (Dave Bautista) battle a gelatinous space monster, protecting precious, glowing batteries for the Sovereigns (golden humanoids) in exchange for Gamora’s vicious sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan).

Led by the gilded, humorless Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) the Sovereigns, pursue and attack the Guardians’ ship via remote-control drones after Rocket steals some of the batteries…

Long story short:  Rescued by a stranger in an egg-like space vessel, Star-Lord Peter Quill meets his actual father, Ego, (Kurt Russell) a god-like Celestial who has created the entire planet on which they stand.  In fact, he IS the planet, and Quill soon learns of his own power and immortality.  Drax discovers a friend in Ego’s “pet” empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) whom he finds repulsive.  Mantis tries to warn Quill and Drax of some kind of danger while the always wary Gamora maintains her ninja-like badassery, denying any kind of romantic feeling for Quill.

Meanwhile, Quill’s cornflower-blue, previous father figure and Ravager, Yondu (Michael Rooker) also pursues the Guardians, survives a mutiny, and bonds with Rocket while jailed on his own ship.  Baby Groot runs around in a jumpsuit and is so adorable that even chief mutineer Taserface (Chris Sullivan) can’t find the cajones to destroy him. Yondu loyalist Kraglin (Sean Gunn, younger brother of director James Gunn) helps the blue Ravager, the raccoon, and the twig vanquish the mutineers.

Nebula?  Fueled by hate, she initially aids the mutiny against Yondu, but eventually faces sister Gamora in a “Dad (Thanos) always liked you best” rivalry that pits the green Guardian against her multi-hued, partially roboticized sister.

Ego explains to Quill how he planted his seed, literally, on planets and in females (one of them Quill’s mother) throughout the galaxy, while Gamora and Nebula find evidence of the danger that Mantis has been hinting at.  That’s after kicking each other’s asses, mind you.

Yikes!  I said long story short.  I lied.  There is so much to explain about this multi-layered plot that essentially is all about family, loyalty, ambivalence, and forgiveness.  Full of snarky one-liners, GotG, Vol.2 is the sentimental, schmaltzier addendum to its predecessor.  Baby Groot is given beaucoup screen time. Drax, so literal in the original movie, now finds howling hilarity in embarrassing situations.  Rocket is more reckless; Yondu loses some of his ruthless mojo.

Writer/director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) is fully cognizant of what made the 2014 GotG sparkle and pop.  Those elements (70’s am radio soundtrack, snappy sarcasm, Quill and Gamora’s sexual tension, the whole gang’s reticent but unceasing loyalty to one another) return in full force, sometimes with an overstuffed feel, translating its creators’ thought processes into visuals that holler, “How about this? And this? You liked this before, so here it is again! And again!”  The talented ensemble is quite capable of doing the heavy lifting; no sledgehammer needed.

Viewed in 3-D, the CGI works in spacescapes and planetary terrain.  Sky candy?  You bet.

Ending credits are interrupted and followed by several short scenes introducing a new Guardian threat and a bit of Groot’s future.  Sly Stallone, who has a small part in GotG Vol. 2 as Ravager Leader Stakar Ogord, hints at the future, and a telekinetic arrow flies by new commands.  And yes, Stan Lee makes an appearance, this time literally lost in space.

The Guardians, however, have found themselves more in demand than ever.

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