'Guardians 2' is familiar, but fun

Michael Rooker plays Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Written and directed again with tongue-in-cheek flair by James Gunn (of "Sliver" and "Super" fame), this is first-rate goofy escapism. A Marvel Studios release playing at Franklin Park, Fallen Timbers, Levis Commons, Bowling Green, Mall of Monroe, and Sundance Kid Drive-in.

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content. Running time: 136 minutes.

As you might expect, the disruptive Guardians (Star Lord, Rocket, Baby Groot, Gamora, and Drax) spend Vol. 2 doing exactly what they always do: ticking off as many people as possible while also managing to save the day. On the other hand, Baby Groot brings sweetness and a lot of the humor from being the child in the family with the other Guardians baby-sitting him and making sure he's safe, but he essentially steals the show. The best gags are reserved for Groot and there's way too much drama going on in this film, which markets itself as a fun ride.

Or that Rocket the raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) is even more sarcastic. Chris Pratt played the alien-abducted Earthling with a difference, while commanding an entertaining crew of misfit intergalactic bounty hunters, criminals and miscreants. In a piece that could be argued as even more captivating than the first, Ferguson takes the characters in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and places them in the classic positions of the poster art for "The Empire Strikes Back".

Gunn outdoes Quill's Awesome Mix Vol. 1 with a mishmash of genres and artists, some recognizable and others more obscure. Only "less" is rare for a summer blockbuster, particularly for a highly anticipated sequel.

Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be screened at 369 4DX auditoriums in 47 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Mexico, South Korea, China and Japan.

It will be a very long time before we get any real news about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

A lot of the story, which also includes a sisterly rivalry that has veered into the murderous zone, is drawn from Gunn's relationship with his father, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 20 years, and what he calls his big, lovingly dysfunctional Irish Catholic family. Chris Pratt leads the renegade team as the arrogant yet playful Peter Quill / Star-Lord.

Gamora has a run-in with her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), who still wants to kill her sibling. He believes Quill has a similarly isolated calling, and tries to convince him that he's apart from his Guardian buddies.

To save Star Lord, Yondu sacrifices himself at the end of the battle against Ego and dies in space.

The idea behind adding new characters - we are introduced to Ayesha and to Stakar Ogord (Stallone), Ego and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) over the span of two hours with alacrity - is to judge the feasibility of taking what once was a will-it-work franchise, light years ahead. Just look at some of his most notable roles: Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and, most recently, Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

The film not only encapsulated the time period but also influenced it. In Vol. 2 they cut back on the interplanetary travelogue that defined much of the first film and instead of splitting its cast between really only about three main locations with an emphasis on working through their ever-present hangups and personal demons.

Perhaps Marvel comics fans can keep up with everything happening on screen - all the names and faces, villains and heroes. Too much of the wrong music hurts the movie.

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