When worlds kaleidoscope
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, superhero science fiction, rated PG-13, Regal Stadium 14, Violet Crown, DreamCatcher, 2.5 chiles
The woefully underserved demographic of thirteen-year-old boys who dig sci-fi, video games, and comics can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, here is a movie that caters to their tastes.
To be fair, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 speaks to the hearts (and wallets) of nerds of any age or gender orientation. But in addition to the committed fan base that shows up in force for anything produced by Marvel Studios, writer-director James Gunn has in his sights the generation that is parenting today’s teen space-opera fans. The thirty- and forty-somethings who grew up with Star Wars, Pac-Man, and Michael Jackson are best positioned to get all the visual and musical references to their childhood days — and there are plenty of those.
As in the 2014 predecessor to this film, the central characters include Missouri native Peter Quill, who calls himself Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and the green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who are linked by a limp romantic subplot. Much more enjoyable are Groot, an adorable treelike creature voiced by Vin Diesel, and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a snarky raccoon who’s handy with explosives. And who would have guessed that a pro wrestler would possess impeccable comic timing?
Actually, that might make perfect sense. In any case, Dave Bautista, as a blue bag of muscles called Drax, makes a superb vehicle for the film’s chief asset: its humor. The zinger-laden interplay between Drax, Rocket, Groot, and an antennaed woman named Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is frequently hilarious and by far the best thing going here.
There is a plot, which revolves around Star-Lord’s Earthly origins, but it plays second fiddle to the visuals, which are state of the art. In fact, they can be overwhelming — especially in 3-D. Practically every scene is overflowing with flashing lights, rainbow mists, and floating motes of dust, or fluff, or something. Audiences may feel like they stumbled into a rave.
Unfortunately, the groovy colors and rapid-fire guffaws are offset by the witty writing’s occasional detours into banal messaging, a leaden who’syour-daddy narrative — didn’t the Star Wars flicks cover that already? — and, worse, sequences of fetishized violence that are jarringly scored, like the rest of the action, to the laid-back sounds of the ’70s. You get the impression that the filmmakers thought this would come across as cool and edgy. But you can only watch bodies raining down in slow motion for so long before you ask, was it really necessary for the heroes to murder all those guys? — Jeff Acker
I am the Star-Lord, pew-pew p’pew: Chris Pratt