Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michale Rooker, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, and Kurt Russell
Synopsis: Summer movie season is a time most people look forward to the most. It’s a time when we have blockbusters, comedies and a lot of big-budget fair to provide entertainment and refuge from long, hot summer days. And the season begins the first weekend in May. That first summer season release carries with it the weight of expectation, getting the season started right. And for the past few years, Marvel has leapt in to take that position. Last summer, it was “Captain America: Civil War” that bowed the first Friday in May to kick-off the summer season. It was about a superhero team that fractured. This year, Marvel offered us a superhero team that knows what it means to be family. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which bowed late in the summer of 2014, was probably the biggest surprise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. It was based on an obscure property, featured a classic rock soundtrack and asked people to invest in a Raccoon and a tree creature whose sole spoken response was “I Am Groot.” But most of America fell hard for these rogues turned hero, and many now regard “Guardians” as the best of the MCU films. Three summers later, their back for a new adventure and, again, to prove they are the best in the MCU. Director James Gunn poured a lot of himself into bring the “Guardians” to the big screen. He brought plenty of fun, personality and a kicking soundtrack to the film, all things that helped it connect with audiences. And then, of course, there were the characters that resonated with audiences. In “Vol. 2,” all that is again at work. This time, the film is blessed with one incredibly magical element — Baby Groot. Due to the events of the first film, Groot is going through a development process, and the audience is the big winner. Baby Groot won hearts in the trailer, and the experience of him in the full film is 1,000 times better. That, too, is largely a credit to the talent and vision of Gunn, who serves as the writer and director on the film. But Baby Groot is far from the only fun thing in the film. The sequel follows up and builds on the characters and world, further developing them and coalescing them into a team. But it never takes itself too seriously, and the film always remembers what made the first one such a success. That is a rare achievement for a sequel, particularly a franchise film. After launching the first film in 2014 with hardly any expectations, this second film was burdened with the weight of enormous expectations. Yet it delivered. It was a fun, fantastic ride, and a perfect way to kick off the summer. The film promises the Guardians will return in its closing moments, and that should be music to all our ears.
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.
Friday, May 12: "Snatched," "Lowriders," "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"
Friday, May 19: "Alien: Covenant," "Everything, Everything," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul"
Thursday, May 25: "Baywatch"
Friday, May 26: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"