Guardians of the Galaxy review: 'Guardians' is irreverent but not enough

Jul 29 2014, 12:44 IST
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Anna Faris, left, and Chris Pratt arrive at the premiere of Anna Faris, left, and Chris Pratt arrive at the premiere of "The Guardians Of The Galaxy" at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP)
SummaryThe Marvel universe, of course, isn't entirely lacking comedy, as we've seen in ''Iron Man'' and ''The Avengers.''

At the height of their powers, our overlords at Marvel have deigned to prove, like an emperor tolerating a court jester, that they do, in fact, have a sense of humor.

The Marvel universe, of course, isn't entirely lacking comedy, as we've seen in ''Iron Man'' and ''The Avengers.'' But on the whole, the Marvel kingdom is built on an unshakable foundation of self-seriousness. The comic book studio seems to fear that if the solemnity of its fiction isn't diligently guarded, people might start questioning whether all these men in spandex merit quite so much attention.

Yet ''Guardians of the Galaxy,'' a 3-D space opera about a ragtag crew of mercenaries, is Marvel's most irreverent film yet, and has a welcome, slightly self-mocking tone that dares to suggest intergalactic battles over orbs might actually be a tad silly.

This is all very much to the good, but the problem with ''Guardians of the Galaxy,'' directed by James Gunn, is the weakness of the comedy it wears so proudly. It takes more than a soundtrack full of `70s tunes, a talking raccoon and a few gags about ''Footloose'' to be funny. It's ''zany'' in quotes.

As if demonstrating its tonal distance from Marvel's other planetary bodies, ''Guardians of the Galaxy'' takes place at the far reaches of space, where we find Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) skipping along on an abandoned planet. He removes his mask, presses play on a Walkman and does something normally sacrosanct in Marvel-land: He dances. Blaring is the irresistible 1974 hit ''Come and Get Your Love'' by Redbone, the first of many such old radio hits.

The music, as we learned in the prologue, is from a mixtape given to Quill as a child by his cancer-stricken mother shortly before her death. Distraught, he rushes outside only to - in quite the double-whammy - be beamed up by a spaceship.

Twenty-six years later, Quill is a Han Solo-like scavenger who stumbles across a silver orb also sought by some powerfully evil forces: Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace, obscured by makeup but still a severe presence) and his boss, Thanos (Josh Brolin). The warm spirit of ''Guardians'' owes much to Pratt, the guileless, formerly doughy ''Parks and Recreation'' star; his casting in inspired.

The resulting scrum for the orb introduces several more seekers: the green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the hulking Drax (Dave Bautista) and a CGI odd couple: a bitterly sardonic raccoon named Rocket

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