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  • ‘Guardians’ wrestles with irreverency

    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.

  • Theater Works scares up unDEAD Zombie FX makeup workshop

    Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is holding a two-day Zombie FX makeup workshop Aug. 9 and 10.Theatrical makeup artist DeAndrea Vaughn will teach workshop participants how to “horrify” themselves with scary special FX trauma applications such as fake blood, cuts, gaping neck wounds, bullet holes and much more.Teens who participate in the workshop will be guaranteed a walk-on zombie role during Theater Works’ production of “Night of the Living Dead,” which runs Oct. 10–Nov. 2. The workshop is for ages 13 to adult. Cost is $100 for teens and $75 for adults.To attend this workshop and transform into the terrifying and visually stunning zombies and vampires seen in the movies, call the Theater Works Box Office at 623-815-7930 and make a reservation. Only 20 participants will be enrolled per class. Classes will be from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 9 and 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 10.Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is at 8355 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria. For information, visit www.theaterworks.org.

  • Jury awards Ventura $1.8M in defamation case

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura won $1.8 million Tuesday in his two-year fight to prove he was defamed by a military sniper and best-selling author who claimed to have punched out Ventura at a bar for bad-mouthing the Navy SEALs. A federal jury sided with Ventura in his lawsuit against "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle, who was killed last year in Texas. Though Ventura honed a tough-guy reputation as a pro wrestler and action movie actor, he maintained the legal battle was about clearing his name among his beloved fellow Navy SEALs, not about losing a supposed fight. Kyle — reputed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history — said in his memoir that he punched Ventura in California in 2006 after Ventura said the SEALs "deserved to lose a few" in Iraq. Ventura disputed that the confrontation, including the punch, ever happened. Ventura wasn't present for the verdict and didn't immediately return messages left at his home. His attorney, David Bradley Olson, said Ventura felt there were "no real winners in this trial." "He's certainly grateful for the verdict, but his reputation with an entire generation of young SEALs may never be repaired," Olsen said, adding, "It is a victory in the sense that the jury did tell the world that Chris Kyle's story is a lie and was a fabrication." Jurors declined to comment to reporters as they left the courthouse. They deliberated for five days before telling the judge Monday they didn't believe they could reach a unanimous verdict, but were told to keep trying. Tuesday's resolution came only after attorneys for both sides agreed to allow a verdict if eight of 10 jurors agreed. John Borger, an attorney for Kyle's estate, said the family would consider an appeal. He faced questions about why he agreed to a non-unanimous verdict when the jury appeared close to being hung. "That was a strategic call, which seemed appropriate at the time," Borger said. Legal experts had said Ventura had to clear a high legal bar to win, because as a public figure he had to prove actual malice. The jury was instructed that Ventura had to prove that Kyle either knew or believed what he wrote was untrue, or that he harbored serious doubts about its truth. After Kyle was killed last year at a Texas gun range, Ventura's lawsuit moved forward with Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, as the defendant. She wasn't in court to hear the verdict. Borger said she was "surprised and upset" when he gave her the news by phone. The jury awarded Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment. Borger said the latter figure was subject to review and potential adjustment by U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, no relation to Chris Kyle. At least some of that money will be covered by "American Sniper" publisher HarperCollins' insurance policy. Borger said the $1.3 million for unjust enrichment will have to come from the book profits, but Olsen believes the policy will cover all the damages. Borger said he expects both sides will file papers on that and other issues soon. Olsen also said Ventura's side will ask HarperCollins to remove the disputed section from the book. The section recounts an October 2006 confrontation that Chris Kyle said he had at a bar in Coronado, California, with a man called "Scruff Face." In promotional interviews, Kyle identified the man as Ventura, who was in Coronado for a SEAL reunion and graduation ceremony. Kyle was at the bar for a wake for a fallen SEAL. Olsen suggested in his closing argument that the jury award Ventura $5 million to $15 million to compensate him for damage to his reputation. He said Kyle's claims that Ventura said he hated America, thought the U.S. military was killing innocent civilians in Iraq and that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" had made him a pariah in the community that mattered most to him — the brotherhood of current and former SEALs. Borger argued that 11 witnesses presented by the defense told a "compelling and consistent story" that backed Kyle's account. Ventura testified that his income as a television personality fell sharply as job offers dried up in the wake of "American Sniper." Borger said Ventura's career as an entertainer was in decline well before that.

‘Guardians’ wrestles with irreverency

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.

  • icon Posted: July 30

More From At the movies

Heard Museum hosts Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison

Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison, on view at the Heard Museum from Oct. 25 to Jan. 11, presents a comprehensive array of drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures from an important American Indian modernist.

  • icon Posted: July 30

More From Theater and Arts

Today: Celebrate National Chicken Wing Day in Surprise

Red Embers Bar & Grill, inside local family entertainment venue Uptown Alley in Surprise, is offering 10 wings for $5 all day long (with the purchase of a beverage) on Tuesday in honor of National Chicken Wing Day.

  • icon Updated: July 29

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