Guardians of the Galaxy

You’ll be hearing from now on that the best movie of the summer is a sci-fi adventure romp whose ensemble includes a feisty raccoon with the voice of Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel as a piece of wood. That casting isn’t bad, actually, as CGI enhancement does both of those actors a favor. But whatever the baseline of your expectations, it’s hard not to see Guardians of the Galaxy as a best-case-scenario result of comic-book cinema having spread itself too thin. This is of course a ragtag-posse picture, so other almost-personalities also are on hand: Former WWE wrester Dave Bautista, as an honorable dolt, just seems happy to be here, while Zoe Saldana, painted green, seems too tender-hearted and waifish for the tough demeanor and action-chick athleticism that’s been assigned to her. Default team leader Chris Pratt plays an amiable rascal-doofus who was abducted by space pirates on the day his mom died, then forced into the servitude of a Raiders of the Lost Ark homage shortly thereafter. Abetted by a Walkman full of ’70s pop, his leadership consists mostly of setting the movie’s tone, an athletic half-boogie, half-shrug. These larkiest of Marvel superheroes power through their blah-blah plot, striking earnest poses and cute subversions thereof, but even the irreverence feels canned, and a high incidence of hackneyed setups being paid off is not the same thing as narrative satisfaction. It’s fine, and sometimes fun, but hardly a marvel.