What 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol

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The space pirates Guardians of the Galaxy are back for more swashbuckling adventures in a sequel to a very successful first endeavor. We miss heart and seeing flaws in characters.

In the same Facebook post, Gunn says the film "will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond". Other returning cast members include Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as the voice of tree-like Baby Groot, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of rascally Rocket Raccoon.

The development certainly complicated the relationship between Groot and Rocket, a notoriously lonesome creature with only the talking plant as his true friend. If he could make audiences believe in his CGI creation then everything else would fall into place.

As the smart-alecky interstellar stepchild of the Marvel film empire, the original Guardians of the Galaxy had room to create its own playground unbeholden to the demands of cross-promotion and continuity with the rest of an inflating universe. I saw it four times in theaters. It's behind one such battle that Kurt Russell makes his entrance as Ego, Peter Quill's (Pratt) long-lost father.

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Quill's thing is that he was plucked from Earth at a young age by a blue-skinned bandit named Yondu (Michael Rooker), and trained in the art of thieving before he absconded with the ragtag crew who would become the Guardians. In another scene, Peter compares Yondu - his surrogate father, who raised him as a child - to Mary Poppins, as Yondu descends from the sky, like the famous nanny, holding his arrow aloft like her umbrella.

The company is also launching a "Be the Guardian of Your Galaxy" sweepstakes at marvel.com/ecosport, where fans can win an EcoSport, hometown screening of the movie, one of 150 custom illustrations by a Marvel artist and other prizes. At the same time, so-called "Baby Groot" - a pint-sized, indisputably adorable version of the monosyllabic, anthropomorphic tree - feels like nothing quite so much as an attempt to sell plush toys. "Their papa goes, 'It's Gamora.' They go, 'Gamora.Hulk?' [I said], 'Yea, Mama knows the Hulk!'" Drax seems to share some chemistry with Mantis on-screen. I had actually been holding back.

What worked in the first film, something of a surprise hit in 2014, works again here. Sure it is a tad too long and sometimes tries a little too hard for some jokes, but the overall effect is one of pure joy (tinged by a little well-earned sadness at the end).

If director James Gunn's first instalment was a riotous feast for the senses, this time, having proved himself, he seems to have been let completely off the leash and given even greater freedom to let loose. The Guardians clash with a race of gold people, an amusing species of rigid, self-important oligarchs who must lay out the red carpet for their empress (Elizabeth Debicki) no matter how gross of a planet she happens to be on.

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