When worlds kalei­do­scope

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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

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