Director: James Gunn. Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper. Running Time: 136 min. Release Date: May 5
The space pirates Guardians of the Galaxy are back for more swashbuckling adventures in a sequel to a very successful first endeavor. Could production not think of a better title than volume two? How about Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Beware of a Big Ego?
Our story begins with the team robbing batteries from gold aliens led by a character named Ayesha. Maybe it is a subtle way of hoping for an Oscar nomination with all these gold men chasing after them.
After being gunned down, the Guardians crash-land on a planet owned by Star-Lord's ( Chris Pratt's ) father named Ego, deftly played by seasoned actor Kurt Russell. This planet is rotten to the core and an epic battle ensues to the bitter end.
Don't miss cameos by Howard the Duck, Rob Zombie's voice and, of course, comic creator Stan Lee himself. Sylvester Stallone has a bit part with a character named Stakar that will most likely grow bigger in future installments if rumor has it.
One homely alien called Taserface is the leader of the Ravagers group and is made fun of continuously. Director James Gunn even called poor Taser the "dumbest character of all time" on social media.
There are many tongue-in-cheek moments that poke fun at the silliness of the classic comics. Instead of trying to be so serious as many superhero films attempt, Vol. 2 keeps the plot and characters moving forward at a perfect pace for more than two hours. References to television shows from the past are everywhere, along with the retro soundtrack. David Hasselhoff himself even pops up at one point. He's probably in the upcoming Baywatch movie, too!
The main cast settles into its characters this time, with more time to develop. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora as an alien with endearing human qualities. Her sister, Nebula, gets more screen time this time out. Dave Bautista enjoys his role, adding six-pack belly laughs and deadpan delivery as Drax. It is easy to forget Bradley Cooper voices Rocket because he is shown so realistically with humor and antics. Micheal Rooker, as Yondu Udonta, gets a much bigger role this time and his arrow hits the right mark.
In addition, there is a new character named Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, who is Ego's pet and quite endearing. She was an Avenger in the comics, so keep your eyes on her for the major crossover coming in Avengers: Infinity War.
Is Vol. 3 next, with a full-grown Baby Groot? I am sure the seeds are already planted.
The battle scenes eventually turn into video-game action that is overwhelming at times. See this spectacle in 3D, grab some popcorn and buckle up for this new ride into outer space at a theater near you.