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James Gunn's sequel to the 2014 Marvel hit brings the gang

James Gunn's sequel to the 2014 Marvel hit brings the gang — including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper — back together for more.
When a disarmingly wacky and amusing B-team of Marvel characters parachuted in three summers ago and made off with a worldwide haul of $771 million, the fifth biggest of any Marvel production, Guardians of the Galaxy resembled a makeshift expansion sports franchise that somehow played above its own level all year long and snuck into the World Series. But the second season brings this team back to reality, if not to planet Earth, and while the stadiums will remain packed, the results on the field are not nearly so pretty for this manic and sometimes grating continuation of a scattershot narrative, in which the survival of the universe is treated far more glibly than its knotty superhero daddy issues.
In 2014, writer-director James Gunn emerged out of Troma-land — that is, virtually nowhere — to inject some unexpected irreverence and mangy humor into the customary Marvel format; it was as if a prankster had slipped onto the premises and pinpricked the hot air out of some bloating franchises that were approaching retirement age. In the highly controlled realm of Marvel, where nothing happens by accident, Gunn came off like a court jester who had been officially sanctioned to prove that royalty could tolerate a few jibes made at its own expense.
However, warning signs turn up early on in Vol. 2 that things are not quite as they were the first time around. The factor that most distinguished the original Guardians from its stablemates was its goofball collection of misfit characters: figures who might never have been candidates to carry a franchise alone but who, together, made up an appealing team.

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