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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Movie Review: ‘Guardians Vol. 2’

Friday, May 26, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” brings the usual crew of galactic misfits back for an entertaining mix of 1970s-era mix-tape music, galactic shenanigans and a summer movie season of bountiful quips.

The best part, though, is that writer-director James Gunn was to the movie superhero spoof genre born (writer-director, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” 2014; “Super,” 2010; “Slither,” 2006; writer, “Dawn of the Dead,” 2004; “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” 2004; “Scooby-Doo,” 2002; “The Specials,” 2000; “Tromeo & Juliet,” 1996).

“GOTG” or “GOG,” for short, is the culmination of Gunn’s skewed view of the universe, and especially the Hollywood movie and graphic novel, i.e., comic book, universe, ergo, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3” announced, look for more cartoony mayhem on the big screen.

The origin storyline about Peter Quill, aka Star-lord (a terrific Chris Pratt) makes each character a part of the plot. Quill discovers that he’s only half-human. His mother was an Earthling. His father is a god (with a small g) and a big name, Ego (a fun Kurt Russell).

Quill is still trying to work things out (“It’s an unspoken thing.”) with Gamora (a wonderful Zoe Saldana, Neytiri, “Avatar,” 2009; Uhura, “Star Trek,” 2009), as well as with his rambunctious Guardians: Drax (Dave Bautista, TV’s “WWE Raw, Smackdown,” 2002-14, with a stronger and more fleshed-out role), Yondu (Michael Rooker, also excellent from behind the makeup), Rocket (a superb CGI character with the almost unrecognizable but effective voice of Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (an adorable CGI character with the equally-unrecognizable but effective voice of Vin Diesel).

In a subplot, Gamora must work out sibling rivalry with her sister, Nebula (a very strong Karen Gillan). Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is a fascinating addition to the crew.

Look for Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone, in a nice, if brief, appearance). Among the Ravagers, a “Mad Max”-like assortment of villains, a standout is Taserface (Chris Sullivan).

“GOG” turns up the volume in effects, plot and characters. This is even evident in several cameos: Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), Grandmaster (an uncredited Jeff Goldblum), Zardu Hasslefrau (David Hasselhoff, uncredited), and one of the most derided characters in cinema history, Howard the Duck (voiced by Seth Green), from the 1986 movie flop.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” defies expectations. It’s a must-see for fans of the first. And it bodes well for “Volume 3.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2,”MPAA PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content; Genre: Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction; Run time: 2 hrs., 15 mins.; Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” has not one, but five, count ‘em, five brief scenes during the end credits, foreshadowing future “GOG” and other Marvel Cinematic Universe plot points. The phrase “I Am Groot” appears several times and morphs into credits. Actors in character dance, wink and vamp to the music. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee has two cameos as Astronaut, including one in the end credits. So far this year, “GOG” gets the CRA (Credit Readers Anonymous) Best End Credits award.

Box Office,May 19: “Alien: Covenant,” opening with $36 million, narrowly defeated “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” apparently ending its for two-weeks reign at No. 1 as it finished at No. 2, with $35 million, $301.7 million, three weeks.

3. “Everything, Everything” opened with $12 million.

4. “Snatched” dropped two places from No. 2 with $7.6 million, $32.7 million, after two weeks.

5. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” had a wimpy haul with $7.2 million.

6. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” dropped three places from No. 3 as the $175-million budget movie became a legendary flop with $6.8 million and $27.2 million after two weeks.

7. “The Fate of the Furious” dropped three places from No. 4 with $3.1 million, $219.8 million, six weeks.

8. “The Boss Baby” slid down two places from No. 6 with $2.8 million, $166.1 million, eight weeks.

9. “Beauty and the Beast” dropped four places from No. 5 with $2.4 million, $497.7 million, 10 weeks.

10. “How to Be a Latin Lover” dropped three places from No. 7, with $2.2 million, $29.4 million, four weeks.

Unreel,May 26:

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,”PG-13: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg direct Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem and Orlando Bloom in the Action-Adventure-Fantasy as Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.

“Baywatch,”R: Seth Gordon directs: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario and Priyanka Chopra in the Action-Comedy-Drama about lifeguard Mitch Buchanan who clashes with a new lifeguard.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes