Grooving To That 70s Beat, 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Return In Volume 2

May 5, 2017
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

"Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" opens in theaters this weekend. The film is on track for a $150 million opening, so reviews are probably irrelevant. But NPR's Bob Mondello has one anyway.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

BRADLEY COOPER: (As Rocket) So we're saving the galaxy again.

CHRIS PRATT: (As Star-Lord) Yep.

COOPER: (As Rocket) Awesome. We're really going to be able to jack up our prices if we're two-time galaxy savers.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Yeah, that's probably the thinking this time - corporately, I mean. "Guardians" one was a pleasant surprise three summers ago, a jokey variation on superhero themes that even comic book fans had to concede were getting a tad heavy back then. Next to spider-bitten teens and brooding bat guys, there was real lightness to the way Walkman-toting Peter Quill and his misfit pickup band grooved to a '70s beat. The fate of the galaxy may have been in the balance, but they had more important things on their minds and still do, as meathead Drax reminds Chris Pratt's self-appointed Star-Lord.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

DAVE BAUTISTA: (As Drax) There are two types of beings in the universe, those who dance and those who do not.

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) I get it, yes. I am a dancer. Gamora is not.

BAUTISTA: (As Drax) You just need to find a woman who is pathetic like you.

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) Thanks, buddy.

MONDELLO: Zoe Saldana's Gamora is the team's green-skinned siren, a lethal assassin who's been reduced to playing nanny this time.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

ZOE SALDANA: (As Gamora) Can we put the bickering on hold until after we survive this massive space battle?

MONDELLO: Her job, when she's not playing sibling rivalry games with her cyborg sister, is to wrangle the boys as they play with their toys, Peter trying to act all grown up with his blasters and Walkman while Rocket, the mechanically enhanced raccoon, ticks off a race of golden elitists by swiping the batteries that power their toys.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

COOPER: (As Rocket) You know why I did it, Star-Munch?

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) I'm not going to answer to Star-Munch.

COOPER: (As Rocket) I did it because I wanted to do. What are we even talking about this for? We just had a little man save us by blowing up 50 ships.

BAUTISTA: (As Drax) How little?

COOPER: (As Rocket) Like this?

SALDANA: (As Gamora) A little one-inch man saved us?

COOPER: (As Rocket) Well, if he got closer, I'm sure he'd be much larger.

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) Yeah, that's how eyesight works you stupid raccoon.

COOPER: (As Rocket) Don't call me a raccoon.

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) I'm sorry. I took it too far. I meant trash panda.

COOPER: (As Rocket) Is that better?

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) It's worse. It's so much worse.

MONDELLO: They are bickering children. Including Groot, formerly a tree of few words who is now an adorable twig of few words, still voiced by Vin Diesel, who is picking up the world's easiest paycheck for this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

VIN DIESEL: (As Groot) I am Groot.

COOPER: (As Rocket) Uh-huh.

DIESEL: (As Groot) I am Groot.

COOPER: (As Rocket) That's right.

DIESEL: (As Groot) I am Groot.

COOPER: (As Rocket) No.

MONDELLO: Baby Groot's the one real kid, also the one who doesn't seem to have serious parental problems, which get exacerbated when along comes that little one-inch man, who is indeed bigger when you see him close up and played by Kurt Russell.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

KURT RUSSELL: (As Ego) After all these years, I've found you.

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) And who the hell are you?

RUSSELL: (As Ego) I'm your dad, Peter.

MONDELLO: And wait till you see the daddy issues writer-director James Gunn has him introduce. Peter's are the ones that drive the plots, but everyone seems to have them - Gamora and her sister, for sure, and Yondu, the blue, arrow-whistling mercenary who's sort of Peter's foster dad. Played by Michael Rooker, Yondu is looking for approval from biker-style daddy Sylvester Stallone. And, well, let's just say that director Gunn isn't about to be outgunned by Oedipus in the myth-building department. Not with all those blasters and spaceships at his command.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

DIESEL: (As Groot) I am Groot.

MONDELLO: Yes, the filmmaker is putting in more effort this time to make everything look effortless, but hey, it's a sequel. And in Marvel sequels, the less-is-more aesthetic only works when Hugh Jackman is involved. "Guardians" two isn't trying to reinvent anything this time. It just aims to give audiences what they've paid for.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2")

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) Groot, put your seatbelt on.

MONDELLO: Splashy battles, snark for days, eye candy effects, all grooving to that '70s beat. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEETWOOD MAC SONG, "THE CHAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.