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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the adventures of Marvel's motley group of space outlaws first introduced in the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Expect lots of interest from kids of all ages, but it's most appropriate for tweens and up. There's frequent fighting with weapons (swords, guns, and more), space chases/battles, executions that involve people being "spaced" (forced out of airlocks to die in the freezing cold of deep space), and more. Spoiler alert: A popular character dies. Language, while not frequent, can also be strong, with everything from "douche" and "d--k" to "s--t," "a--hole." There's a bit of drinking, characters have romantic tension, and a couple of scenes show scantily clad females; there are also references to explaining conception. But all in all, it's still a bit less edgy than many other superhero movies. Plus, unlike the Avengers, the Guardians always fight together and exemplify the spirit of teamwork, friendship, and unconditional chosen-family bonds.
What's the story?
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 continues the story of the misfit band of space outlaws who originally banded together to save the universe in the first film. But instead of starting in 1988, it begins in 1980, when a space man (CGI-young Kurt Russell) woos Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock). (Possible spoilers ahead!) Thirty-four years later, their son -- half human/half "star man" former smuggler Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) -- is with his fellow Guardians: former assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana); genius, genetically modified Rocket, who refuses to admit he's a raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper); tree-like baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel); and literal-speaking Drax (Dave Bautista). After a mission for the Sovereign -- high-tech, genetically engineered aliens who believe themselves superior to everyone else -- goes sour, the Guardians barely escape and are forced to crash. They meet a mysterious man, Ego (Russell), who helps them and announces that he's Peter's long-lost father. Ego, who has a bug-like empath sidekick named Mantis (Pom Klementieff), guides Peter, Gamora, and Drax to his home planet, where he reveals that he's an immortal celestial being with superpowers that can create -- or destroy -- worlds. Meanwhile, the Sovereign's high priestess, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), hires Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his Ravager crew to retrieve the Guardians for her to execute -- but Yondu's fondness for Peter leads to a mutiny.
Is it any good?
Marvel's favorite motley crew of reformed outlaws is back for another space adventure full of classic tunes, epic battles, and charming comedy. While it isn't quite as awesome as the original, that doesn't mean Vol. 2 isn't good. Set to the soundtrack of Meredith Quill's Awesome Mix Tape #2, which she bequeathed to her beloved young Peter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 moves the group's story forward -- primarily for the orphaned Star Lord, who's always wondered exactly who his Star Man dad was and why he left him and his mother behind on Earth. Russell is an ideal pick to play Ego, the celestial god (lowercase "g") who hired Yondu to bring his son to him 26 years earlier. Without getting into specifics, this father-son dynamic, in classic Marvel origin-story style, is the driving force behind the tension and action in the second half of the movie. It just isn't quite as interesting or funny or as the original's "assembling the Guardians" storyline. Father issues, of course, run rampant in superhero worlds, and the Guardians are no exception, whether they're missing the lack of one, bemoaning an evil one, or, in the case of Drax, mourning the father he used to be before his family was killed.
Speaking of fathers -- biological or otherwise -- Yondu, played by Rooker, is a standout supporting character in this installment. He and his magical arrow (and his straight-talking wisdom) are a highlight of the action and the dialogue. Yondu and Rocket enjoy a couple of meaningful conversations that depict their growth in a surprisingly touching way. Saldana and Pratt continue to exchange lingering looks as Peter and Gamora, but there's not a whole lot of romantic development, given that so many higher stakes are at play around them at nearly all times. This sequel passes the Bechdel Test thanks both to Gamora and Nebula's exchanges as sisters dealing with their abusive upbringing at the hands of evil Thanos and to new supporting player Mantis, even though most of her scenes are with Drax (who finds her laudably "hideous" and "repulsive," but in a "good way"). It almost goes without saying that Baby Groot steals the show with his big eyes and sweet demeanor. Even the Ravagers consider him "too adorable to kill." And then there's the music, which is once again a finely crafted compilation of '60s and '70s classics, with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" and Looking Glass' "Brandy" being the most memorable. But there's plenty more awesomeness to enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does Guardians of the Galaxy compare to other superhero stories? Do you prefer hero movies with just one major star and sidekicks, or do you think movies with groups are better, like The Avengers or Justice League?
Are all movies inspired by comic books created equal? Why do some stand out?
What did you think of the soundtrack to Vol. 2? Kids/teens: does the movie make you interested in music from the '60s and '70s?
- In theaters: May 5, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 22, 2017
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper
- Director: James Gunn
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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