Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Rated 4.0

The trippy Marvel fun continues with this big, nutty, spiraling sequel that brings the fun, along with a lot of daddy issues. Star-Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), had some major mommy issues in the first movie, and this time out his dad takes a turn at messing with his head. The dad comes in the form of Ego (Kurt Russell—yes!), who we see hanging out with Quill’s mom in the ’70s during the film’s prologue. (The CGI and practical makeup anti-aging effects on Kurt Russell ranks as one of the best examples of that particular trick to date.) After a killer opening credits sequence that features a battle with a giant slug thing while Baby Groot dances to ELO, the Guardians—including Quill, Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (David Bautista) and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper)—find themselves on another quest. They are quickly diverted to Ego’s planet, where Quill finds out more about his celestial origins. Russell proves to be perfectly cast as Quill’s bombastic father, with Pratt possessing many of the legendary action film star’s alluring traits. Seeing them on screen together, at one point playing catch with an energy ball Quill conjures with newfound powers, is one of the film’s great joys. It also proves to be misleading, because writer-director James Gunn isn’t going to settle for an easy story about a wayward son reuniting with a dream dad. As it turns out, Ego makes Darth Vader look like Mike Brady on a paternal level. Vol. 2 is as dark and nasty as it is silly and action-packed.