• by Wes Singleton

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, B-

Rated PG-13, 138 minutes

The Guardians are back for more high jinks and saving the planet in the busily familiar though energetic "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." The unorthodox charm that carried the first film is back on display here too, though with an unfocused and busy story, it's not as fun or as good as the first film.

The Guardians team struggles to keep its newfound family together as it tires to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy, when his celestial father Ego (Kurt Russell) shows up to reconnect, though possibly with ulterior motives. While Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) assist Peter in uncovering who Ego is, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper, with all the best lines), Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and new frenemy Yondu (Michael Rooker), are hunted and captured by golden high priestess (Elizabeth Debicki), who wants them dead for stealing from her.

Directed and written by James Gunn, who directed the first "Guardians" film, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" follows more adventures of the fun intergalactic superhero team and is filled with sublime visuals, a fast-talking racoon who steals the show as well lots and lots of other stuff that fans of the comic book will enjoy the most. This one comes with lots of family issues for leads Peter and Gamora, who get a good lesson in realizing that good and evil can co-exist in the same family.

"Guardians Vol. 2" isn't a terrible film, but goes in so many places you may have trouble keeping up with it - the aforementioned plot summary is just a trickle of what really goes on here (especially in the dizzying finale) - and much of it will go over the heads of Marvel novices, who'll be attracted by the special effects and cast. While it's certainly not lacking in charm or zeal, which carries the film, Gunn and company simply try to pack in too much here, and this installment is filled with too many characters and storylines, and running about 20 minutes too long.

The game, appealing cast runs through the motions, with Pratt bringing his sarcastic wit and warmth as the leader of his rag-tag crew, though he's generally upstaged by the Cooper-voiced Rocket, yet their verbal spars are some the highlights of the film. The visuals are nicely assembled by the Disney visual effects team, though they must've spent just as much money acquiring the rights to the loads of '70s and '80s tune used all through the film, from "Southern Nights" to "Hooked on a Feeling."

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is fun enough, especially if you enjoy this type of thing, but based on how much goes on here, it runs a risk of becoming more an annoyance in future films. Speaking of which, there's also an abundance (5 to be exact) post-credits scenes, so be sure to stay over for clues what's coming ahead with this franchise.

#guardiansofthegalaxyvol2 #chrispratt #jamesgunn #marvel