I avoided this movie for several weeks, partly because it is the sequel to a 2014 movie that I did not see. Unfortunately, the other big film of the moment is the fourth sequel to 1979's "Alien," and I missed all three of the earlier ones.
So I went to the superhero movie, and you know what? It's pretty good.
Background: The Guardians are a superhero team led by Star-Lord Peter Quill and including a tough green gal named Gamora; a foul-mouthed, gun-toting raccoon named Rocket; a big tough guy called Drax; and a young sapling, Groot, the reincarnation of a superhero tree that was reduced to twigs in the last Guardians outing.
The film opens as the Guardians are protecting batteries for the Sovereign group of gold-colored clones. When Rocket filches some of the batts, escape is required. As the Guardians' spaceship is pursued by hundreds of armed Sovereign warpods, it is rescued by a gray-haired Celestial named Ego, who says he is the father Quill never met.
In fact, the central theme of GOG2 is family: Quill's wariness of Ego, who has searched for his son for many years; the hostility between Gamora and the angry sister who wants to kill her; the Guardians' internecine flare-ups; and even the factional battles among the Ravagers, a larger group of galactic mercenaries whose number includes an unpopular blue guy named Yondu, who also figures in the Quill backstory.
Don't get me wrong: Ingmar Bergman fans will not warm to this film. Interiority is not a hallmark of the superhero genre, but there is more here than might be expected.
There is also plenty of humor and a pop music score of boomer-era hits, most notably "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl.)" Young Groot is a cute little guy who is not quite ready for battle. Rocket the Raccoon, while thin-skinned, is also a jokester with a soft core deep inside his furry exterior.
Mainly GOG2 is marked by multiple battle scenes, the staple of superhero stories. The first conflict is with a gigantic octopus, or perhaps a twelve-opus, with multiple rows of teeth. There many shoot-em-ups in space and on land, plus hand-to-hand combat in various locations.
What makes the violence palatable is its unreality. GOG2 assumes multiple planets that can support human-like life, the ease of repairing damaged space vehicles, never-ending supplies of fresh ammo and fuel, and, of course, characters who look human, sort of, but who have special powers that allow them to fight, move through air and absorb blows that would cripple or kill the rest of us.
The movie is rated 13-PG, but an 11-year-old who is familiar with the genre would enjoy it. There is a sad death in GOG2, but it is a noble one and understandable as such to humans, including young people.
As is common with films now, additional scenelets are interspersed with the credits that roll after the movie's end.
In the last one, Stan Lee, the famed Marvel Comics creator who has a cameo in almost every Marvel-derived movie, interacts with a group of Watchers, who apparently are sidelines characters in the very intricate, very detailed comic group. It's a bit of inside baseball that I honestly don't understand, but it seems to be meaningful to aficionados.
If you're interested in Lee, here's a compilation of his superhero appearances through the end of last year.