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Thursday, March 5, 2015

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

It’s easy to see why Steven Spielberg is thinking Chris Pratt/INDIANA JONES reboot! The actor is already channeling Harrison Ford in this much-liked MARVEL SuperHero pic; less Indy than Han Solo of the original STAR WARS/’77. Same exact age, too (35). And that’s hardly the sole STAR WARS debt from writer/director James Gunn: character line-up, character relationships; distressed spaceship & tacky bars; plus more story-beats than you can shake a Wookie at.* And that’s alright, the main problem (or rather, the problem for non-FanBoys) is the messy mise-en-scène curdling the screen with so much superfluous CGI imagery that action scenes are all noise & general chaos. Readable lines of action/reaction and the joys of logic & physical skill that made the early STAR WARS such participatory pleasures are lost in a contest to see who has the biggest joy-stick. Like a TIMEX watch that ‘takes a licking and keeps on ticking,’ the incessant blasts & bashings pall with no consequences to show for them. What's at stake? Our five adversarial treasure-hunters bond as guardian warriors, boo-hooing into our hearts with weepy backstories worthy of Little Nell. But where a Dickens was always prepared to ‘kill his darlings,’ the power of the Hollywood franchise now runs the show. That takes mortality out of the picture, and sentiment becomes sentimentality. Still, with its cool dudes (especially the two animated team members) and funny throwaway lines, this hipster’s STAR WARS is weightless, inconsequential fun.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *One way it’s definitely not like STAR WARS is in its use of ‘70s/’80s pop/rock singles. Just the sort of sales-friendly soundtrack marketing idea John Williams had to fight against. Though an early symphonic music cue in here does lean on Williams. Not STAR WARS, though, more E.T./’82.

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