The Marvel gang’s back, and as appealing as ever, in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” (Courtesy Marvel Studios)

The Marvel gang’s back, and as appealing as ever, in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” (Courtesy Marvel Studios)

‘Guardians Vol. 2’ a spectacle of character and sensation

Like most of the 14 other movies in the Marvel series that began in 2008, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is spectacular.

It adroitly balances art and entertainment, character and sensation, laughter and poignancy, and the personal with the packaged.

Writer-director James Gunn (who made 2014’s original “Guardians of the Galaxy”) comes from an exploitation background at Troma Entertainment, and worked his way to the “A” list through subversive horror films (“Slither”) and subversive superhero films (“Super”).

He brings his extensive history to the new sequel, which is infused with the feeling of being an outsider, the elation of being a part of a team, and the ups and downs of both sides.

As the movie begins, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is hurting over never knowing his dad; Rocket (Bradley Cooper) keeps others at arm’s length with barbed comments; and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) are recovering from a violent, training-filled childhood.

Meanwhile, Drax (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), and even Yondu (Michael Rooker), are just trying to figure things out.

After irritating a royal council of gold-colored beings, the Guardians meet Ego (Kurt Russell), a man claiming to be Peter’s real dad.

Additionally, characters fight, are captured, and escape, though not necessary in that order.

The movie’s awesome design deserves high praise, mixing and matching raw material from any number of weird 1960s, 1970s and 1980s sci-fi movies, comics, groovy pop songs, and TV shows.

Its visuals, largely consisting of beautiful arcs, curves and circles, are smooth, sleek and swift. The movie flows, avoiding the angular, cornered, stuck feeling of superhero films.

Colors pop and shine like a spring day, and the overall presentation makes “Avatar” look as if it were made with old sticks and Elmer’s glue.

What keeps these Marvel movies coming so fast, made by so many hands (yet retaining quality and consistency) and loved unequivocally?

While the DC movies are mired in defeat and disappointment, sludgy gray and full of gloomy brooding, this epic series is an unprecedented achievement in pop filmmaking.

Could it be the ever-so-simple concept that these Marvel characters are all endearingly human, a little broken, all missing something, and searching for it?

Then, perhaps because of their powers, which are sometimes a curse as well as a blessing, they can do something about it. They can help. They have hope, and that hope is contagious.

REVIEW
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Three and a half stars
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Bradley Cooper, Kurt Russell
Written and directed by James Gunn
Rated PG-13
Running time 2 hours, 18 minutesBradley CooperChris PrattDave BautistaGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2James GunnKaren GillanKurt RussellMichael RookerMovies and TVZoe Saldana

Just Posted

People take part in early voting for the November 5 election at City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A student carries a protection shield to her next class as part of her school’s COVID-19 safety measures. (Courtesy Allison Shelley/Eduimages)
Projected K-12 drops in enrollment pose immediate upheaval and decade-long challenge

State forecasts 11.4% fewer students by 2031 — LA and Bay Area to be hit hardest

Most Read