starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell
written and directed by James Gunn
by Walter Chaw Twice as desperate/half as good, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (hereafter GOTG2) is still sort of fun even if the moments of delirious, spontaneous joy we'd come to know from the previous film are few and far between. Arguably, only the opening title sequence, which seems to make sport a little tiny bit of the marketing insanity around "Dancing Baby Groot," really hits the right balance of self-knowledge and sticking the landing. Consider, though, that even in that sequence there's too long spent on the same "stoplight" gag from the first film's mid-credits scene where Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) stops dancing whenever Drax (Dave Bautista) looks at him. When you're making a hip in-joke reference to a stinger buried in the end titles of your prequel, you've gone deep into the post-modern. Absent, too, for the most part, is the ease of "Vol. 1"'s familial subplot, dragged as it is into the foreground and forced into exposition as each troubled member of the titular gang has a moment to wax eloquent (and at length) about how they only ever wanted a dad/sister/family/daughter/wife/son/I get it already. What's left is a movie that feels arrogant, somehow, as though it knows by its nature that it's critic proof and will make a bajillion dollars and is now the 800lb gorilla in the Marvel room. Just exactly like that, come to think of it.