Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2


Viewed – 02 May 2017  Cinema

The first movie was my favourite of 2014, so the prospect of a sequel was very exciting.  This time around we find the unorthodox gang of heroes causing strife with a race of beings after Rocket the Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) gets a little light-fingered with some batteries.  However following a space battle that could cause the guardian’s lives to end abruptly, a mysterious stranger saves the day.  Turns out Star Lord (Chris Pratt) has a Dad who just so happens to be a pretty powerful guy himself, played with charismatic flair by the ever dependable Kurt Russell.

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This fills in a few gaps left over from the last movie, especially the question surrounding Chris Pratt’s father and it was great being back in the company of these very likable characters again.  The dialogue is especially sharp throughout, something that was a highlight of the last movie and the jokes & references come thick and fast to make this a ton of fun.  Pratt’s character constantly makes quips about eighties pop-culture such as TV shows like Cheers and characters such as Skelator and Pac-Man, and makes him a very relatable and refreshing presence in this sort of movie.  I was also glad to see that, despite the trailers, Baby Groot isn’t over-used but damn is he cute and very funny every second he’s on screen.

Kurt RussellThe soundtrack, another highlight last time around isn’t quite as memorable (apart from a great use of Mister Blue Sky by ELO) and a left-over side plot involving sisters Nebula (Karen Gillen) and Morgana (Zoe Saldana) felt unnecessary.  I also did not get much out of the gold-painted race that turn up at the beginning and chase after our heroes.  That being said Michael Rooker’s Yondu was again a joy and I’ve always liked the actor and we get some great moments with him here.  The same can be said for scene-stealing Dave Bautista as Drax.  Action generally is top-notch but the plot didn’t grab me as much or feel as layered this time, with the whole Kurt Russell’s planet sequence stopping the movie dead at one stage.

As it stands though this was a solid sequel and I can’t wait to see what comes next.  The Guardians of the Galaxy will return!

Verdict:  4 /5

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Guardians of the Galaxy


Viewed – 20 December 2014  online rental

Craig, take a breath, try not to be too gushy over this one.  Ok, calm restored!  This Marvel comic book adaptation has a human kid called Peter Quill who following the death of his cancer-stricken mother, is seemingly abducted by aliens – jump forward 26 years and he’s become a bounty hunter calling himself star lord who tracks down valuable items for the highest price.  On one such mission he steals a sacred orb and soon a powerful warlord is on his heels as the orb carries with it great power.  Yet star lord gets himself thrown in a high security prison after a ruckus on a neighbouring planet breaks out and before long he’s housed up with a rag tag group of outlaws – a green female assassin, a muscle-bound prisoner seeking revenge, a genetically engineered racoon (!) and a big tree / plant creature.  Not your typical heroes.

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After the usual plethora of sequels and comic book super hero movies that hit during the summer, this one flew for the most part under my radar, even though I always liked the look of it.  Now despite the fine job Marvel have done with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America etc. this is going in a different direction.  It has strong echoes of classic eighties genre piece Battle Beyond The Stars (remember that?) and for me felt a breath of fresh air in a summer that for a few years now has felt stale and stuck in a rut.  With a very sharp script, some great characters (and great actors to play them) and a stand out Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, this just seemed to keep me grinning throughout.  Add to this some great fights (the showdown between Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Karen Gillan’s Nebula), flashy, exciting battles and several punch-the-air feel good moments (“you said it yourself bitch, we’re the guardians of the galaxy”) – this just surprised, impressed and won me over again and again.  Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star Lord is brilliant, has a Hans Solo lovable swagger and some of the movie’s best lines and jokes (dance off man!), but the character of Groot (sort of voiced by Vin Diesel) is also a show-stealer.

I simply can’t praise this one enough – it played with clichés like weapons, had a truly brilliant soundtrack that had no place being in this sort of movie (really, the end credits are ‘I Want You Back’ by the Jackson Five? – Genius!).  So hat’s off to Marvel and director James Gunn – this is one to be beaten.

Verdict:  5 /5

Star Trek Into Darkness


Viewed – 03 September 2013  Blu-ray

Although far from calling myself a Trekkie, I have enjoyed the movies and grew up with a brother who is quite passionate about them along with the various TV shows.  When learning that director J J Abrams was bringing the franchise up to date with an all new, younger cast – I could understand why fans were somewhat nervous what the creator of Lost may do with their beloved saga.  Rest assured though that 2009’s Star Trek was a resounding success and with a (mostly) perfect cast breathing new life into very old characters – I came away rather impressed.

This second outing had much to prove – could Abrams nail it twice in a row?  The simple answer to that is … yes.  We return to the crew of the Starship Enterprise who get caught up in a terrorist attack on Star Fleet and accept a mission to hunt down a rogue officer who seems responsible.  Joining the likes of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg this time is British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as the mysterious terrorist, who brings no shortage of sinister intensity to his role and really gives Kirk & co a run for their money.

The big-budget FX laden look of this is just gorgeous, set-design and locations all adding a wow factor (including London).    Pegg has a little more to do this time around as engineer ‘Scottie’ and Quinto’s Spock is just excellent, capturing the spirit of the character as well as adding a few quirks of his own.  Yet the sultry Zoe Saldana is a little side-lined, as is John Cho’s Sulu.  Although not a big fan of Chris Pine, I think he is a perfect Kirk, arrogant but charming just like Shatner in his heyday, and the friendship between him and Spock is really well observed.  For me the frequent nods and winks to Star Trek of old got a bit much, (“I’m a doctor, not a torpedo technician!”) bordering on satire, but were still fun.  Also the script borrows a little too much from the older movies, yet still manages to make it work regardless … especially towards the end.

So a worthy sequel that in some aspects surpasses the last movie, whilst also managing to be a fine tribute to the Trek legacy as a whole.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Colombiana


Viewed – 01 March 2012  DVD

Sometimes, It’s worth going on instinct and not listening to reviews when it comes to a movie.  That may be a strange thing to say as a reviewer myself, but we don’t always get it right.  Or we expect too much.  This can be said for this stylish thriller written by French filmmaker / producer Luc Besson and starring the very beautiful Zoe Saldana (Avatar).

Zoe plays a Colombian girl named Cataleya (yes, not Colombiana) who witnesses her parents get killed by gangsters, and vows revenge.  Travelling to Chicago and being brought up by her uncle, she soon becomes a professional assassin and plies her trade in hope that one day, she’ll find her father’s killer.  This is nothing new, and for Luc Besson, he trod very similar ground in the cult favourite La Femme Nikita.  Yet Zoe Saldana makes for a great ice-cool killer and the various hits are executed with panache (including a very cool Police Station sequence).  Supporting cast are mostly bland, no-name bit part actors who fit the Colombia-heavy stereotype and don’t do much more than look bad-ass and fire lots of guns.  Besson’s chosen director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3), name sounding like a Transformer aside, delivers a slick-looking experience and is obviously in love with his leading lady (who can blame him?).  The plot does rely on a few too many conveniences though, and some stuff  is very sloppily written, like the frankly bonkers way Cataleya’s identity gets discovered … yet overall this was fast and fun – just switch off that brain, and you’ll have a good time.

Verdict:  2.5 /5