Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MGuardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn

Producer: Kevin Feige

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito

Written by: James Gunn

Based on: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki

If you enjoyed the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the chances are you will also enjoy this joyful follow-up, imaginatively titled ‘Vol. 2’. A fast paced, playfully psychedelic scene early on re-introduces the five main characters from the first film in what appears to be an entertaining yet largely irrelevant action sequence that serves no real purpose other than to dazzle.

This sequence does end up having some plot relevance later, but more than that, it helps re-familiarise viewers with the main characters or introduce them to those people who might not have seen the previous outing. Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), part human/part something else and his gang of frenemies have lent themselves out for hire as mercenaries in the months since the events of the previous film ended.

Peter’s encounter with someone claiming to be his father helps drive the central storyline but there are plenty of sub-plots to keep the action zinging along.

Twiglet Groot has grown into an adorable toddler version (huge merchandising opportunities abound!) who loves music. The cuteness quotient threatens to overtake the film’s edgier moments but luckily, baby Groot hasn’t lost its ruthless killer instinct which helps balance things out.

Where the first film focussed on introducing the characters of this offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how they came to be a kind of connected group, the second film takes time to explore themes of family, growing up, belonging and searching for something that sometimes turns out to be much closer than originally thought. Family dynamics, parent-child and sibling relationships are all explored or experienced by the main characters, and there is more ‘quiet’ time for revealing most of their histories, which helps explain a lot of their behaviour or motivations.

Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) still gets most of the best lines, delivered in his deadpan way, where his honest desire to be helpful often comes across as hurtful. Rocket (voiced with gravelly menace by Bradley Cooper) demonstrates his deadly fighting skills while confronting his own ghosts, assisted by blue Ravager Yondu Udonto (Michael Rooker) whose lethal arrow causes entertaining carnage and mayhem in one memorable sequence.

As with the first movie, music is important in establishing mood. Whether it’s ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ in an early, super-playful scene, or travelling with the Guardians to a paradise accompanied by George Harrison’s classic, ‘My Sweet Lord’, or getting reflective with Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’, the choice of songs overall work incredibly well.

The costumes range from gorgeous, especially those of the Sovereign Queen (Elizabeth Debnicki) and her people, to highly unusual, and many of the sets, planets and ship interiors are so incredibly imaginative and beautifully realised that it’s like being inside an enormous kaleidoscopic theme park ride.

The novelty factor of the first film is obviously no longer there, but the situations, humour, character development and multiple plots of this second outing coalesce by the end into a joyful explosion of colour, movement and resolution (of sorts). Under no circumstances should you leave before the very last credit has finished because there are some additional scenes that hint at the promise of continuing adventures. Bring them on!

Captain America: Civil War

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Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe RussoCaptain America Civil War

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt; Daniel Brühl.

With no expectation going in, I was pleasantly surprised by gutsy action and a well-thought out storyline.  And yes, I’m just going to say it, Captain America: Civil War was heart-warming.

To be honest, the Captain America character has never appealed to me.  As Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) says, ‘Sometimes, I just want to punch you in your perfect teeth’.

However, the film celebrates difference of opinion and differing values and cultures and that’s a definite positive of this film.

Civil War is about friendship and the difficulty in accepting differences between friends.  Who’s to say they’re right and who is wrong?  People have their reasons whether it be loyalty, the idea of doing the right thing, of looking after the little guy; and then there’s the bad manipulating the good.

The huge number of strong characters could have led to confusion, but the well-paced storyline gave every character their point and time in the spotlight.

I liked the addition of the cat-man, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).  And the threat of cheesiness was nicely averted with humour; the characters able to make fun of themselves and each other, particularly Iron Man and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) – just hilarious!

I admit I was a little confused at times regarding the history of the characters and how they came to fight together, which means I need to go back and re-watch some of the previous films.  And that’s a lot of watching.  Civil War is the third in the series of Captain America.  And then you have Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).  Plus there’s all the Iron Man series and of course the films casting all the other characters…  So there wasn’t really anything new here, either.

But when I find I’m entertained at the beginning, the middle and the end, I say that’s a good movie.


Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Zack SnyderBatman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Screenplay: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Godot, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams.

Two superheros; one city.  No wonder the people of Metropolis are worried.  A vigilante batman and an alien who could destroy them all.  If he wanted.  And there lies the foundation of the film – the fear that one Being can have too much power.  And if the movie stuck with this idea, Batman Vs Superman would have been a fantastic film.  But the story continues so it’s like three movies squeezed into one.  All without the required depth of conflict to make the story truly engaging.

This movie had everything going for it – the special effects; the characters were all well-cast.  But without enough conflict between Superman and Batman, the whole premise of the story fell over.  There wasn’t enough meaning.

What a pity.  There were flickers of greatness, such as the humanising of characters.  Batman asks Superman, ‘Do you bleed?  I’m going to make you bleed.’  And a great one, ‘Only men have courage.’  So it was this fear of Superman being an alien that brought the people of Metropolis against him.  And I thought, wow, this version will go where all the others haven’t: a moody, mystery thriller! But the story just wasn’t strong enough.  And then it went on and on.  Why did Batman hate Superman so much?  It just wasn’t enough for me and the whole movie depended on this set-up of hatred.

I’m not saying I didn’t like the characters.  Ben Affleck as Batman was believable.  And I love Henry Cavill as Superman.  Even if Superman is the goody, I just can’t help but love the guy/alien.  And in this characterisation, the film is a success.  Amy Adams as Louis Lane is a flat character; helpless by tradition.  But I liked her ginger-self anyway.  She still had guts.  Even Wonder Woman, played by Gal Godot was likeable.  But that’s my case in point, it felt like she was just tacked on the end.

Knee-jerk reaction: what a waste.  It was all there.  But trying to fit so much in the 2.5 hours made it feel like 5.  Surface action is just explosions on the screen.  But hey, I love a pretty explosion, and I guess that’s why Batman Vs Superman is watchable just not memorable.