‘Guardians’ blasts off for more cheeky fun
On the whole good enough although uninspired “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” from the original film’s writer-director James Gunn, reunites most of the surviving members of the original film’s cast, including arrow-armed Ravager Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) and robo-psycho-gal Nebula (Karen Gillan), the estranged sister of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Also along for the ride are veteran newcomers Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone (Tango & Cash in Outer Space!).
This sequel is for the most part an as-usual repeat of the themes and tropes of the original, especially the sarcasm and nonstop bantering and name-calling that made the previous effort more in line with “Deadpool” than an “Avengers” entry — thank the Space Lord — in terms of a superhero movie. That tongue firmly inserted in cheek attitude is the saving grace of some of these Marvel efforts. Why DC continues to follow the lead of the Guru of Gloom Christopher Nolan is beyond me.
In this latest installment of the pop-culture mixtape that is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Peter Quill (a still amiable and hunky Chris Pratt) is tooling around the galaxy that he and his cohorts gallantly guard, doing a freelance gig involving an icky interdimensional beastie for the Sovereigns, a race of gilded humanoids headed by statuesque Ayesha (Aussie Elizabeth Debicki).
Upon collecting payment, the angry hybrid rodent Guardian Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) reveals to his compatriots — Peter, the towering Drax (the marvelously deadpan mountain of testosterone known as Dave Bautista), lovely green Gamora and way-too-cute Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) — that he has stolen precious batteries from the golden horde, who proceed to chase the Guardians through that space opera staple: an asteroid field.
At this point I congratulated myself for getting into a 2-D screening of the film. The CG cheese is pretty relentless. In a development recalling the conceptually dumbest of the original “Star Trek” episodes, a crucial and crucially boring plot point involves a humanoid named Ego (Russell) — yep, that’s right — who lives on a planet he created accompanied only by a pouting, antenna-sporting, empath named Mantis (a fun Pom Klementieff).
In a clumsily inserted bit of conflict, we learn that Yondu has been condemned by Ravager leader Stakar Ogord (Stallone in a prosthetic schnoz, I hope). Ego wants Peter to join him in expanding his semi-divine DNA throughout the galaxy (or something). The plot does not matter, and some of the film is undeniably fun (Did I say cameos?).
Pratt and Saldana still have chemistry, and Rooker (“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”) is priceless. The semi-evil Gillan is a robo-goddess. But from the Golden Oldies — “Brandy,” Sam Cook, Fleetwood Mac, ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and more — to the canned family moral lessons and gigantic explosions, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is deja vu all over again.
(“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” contains sci-fi violence, sexually suggestive language and gore.)