Movie review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Movie reviews

Hello!

The 15th MCU movie and a sequel to the 2014’s Marvel gamble – Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 – has premiered on my side of the world, so, I’m going to talk about it!

IMDb summary: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

Before I review the actual film, here are the links to my previous Marvel reviews, starting with GOTG Vol.1Doctor Strange, Civil War, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Captain America 1 + 2.

SPOILER WARNING

Writing

The writer and director of the first film – James Gunn – also penned the screenplay for the sequel. Overall, I very much enjoyed seeing the continuation of the Guardians story but I did feel that the first act of the film was a bit wonky. I thought that the set-up involving The Sovereign was choppy. In addition, The Sovereign were not utilized in a useful way throughout the rest of the movie (they just popped up in the third act because the film needed to have an even bigger space battle – they were basically the sequel’s Nova Corps). Plus, the fact that Aysha was interested in Peter’s heritage and, in the very next scene, Peter’s dad Ego suddenly appeared seemed as just too much of a coincidence.

The jokes and the banter at the beginning also seemed a bit forced. They were the bad kind of cheesy. However, as the picture progressed, the humor got way better and the narrative also found its footing and started to unfold quite cohesively. GOTG 2 just needed those first 30 minutes to get going and it could afford that, being a 2h+ movie.

I also really liked the character development in the film. I loved learning more about Peter, his past, and his dad. Ego was a wonderful addition to the cast and I also really enjoyed the fact that they turned him into a villain. And he actually was a good Marvel villain – menacing and threatening! I liked the fact that his and Yondu’s backstories fit together quite organically as well. I’m just worried that the filmmakers might have overpowered Ego – I can’t imagine what will Thanos be like?

A character which surprised me a lot was Yondu – I did not think much about him in the first film but the reveal of his backstory and true feelings towards Peter made him into a wonderful character. Sucks that he met his end as soon as I started to like him. The other new addition to the Guardians (well, sort of) was Nebula – I did enjoy learning more about her and thought that her and Gamora’s relationship progressed nicely. The definite newcomer – Mantis – was also a fun new inclusion. I loved the duo she and Drax made.

Lastly, I loved the thematical core of the film – the Guardians coming to terms with the fact that they care about each other and are a family. Yes, the family angle is cheesy and overdone (Fast and Furious in space) but it still works and has a universal appeal.

Directing

James Gunn, once again, directed the movie (and he also just recently announced that he will be back to helm Vol. 3). I believe that he did a great job. The visual design was just extraordinary, especially the visual realization of Ego in his various forms. I loved the landscapes of his planet as well as his appearance as a human. The visual sequence of Ego rebuilding his human body from a skeleton to being Kurt Russell was really impressive. The fact that they actually put a face on a planet was also really cool and a neat nod to the character’s representation in the comics. Another great visual sequence was Yondu’s ‘Ravager’s funeral’: it was so colorful and actually emotional. An extremely funny visual was the space travel facial distortion – it was such an unexpected but really brilliant gag.

The ‘money shot’ – the round shot of all the Guardians standing together was also just glorious. The camera work, in general, was very vibrant and elaborate – and it made the action look amazing. The opening shot was really great too – the focus on the Baby Groot with the action happening in the background was a really inventive and funny way to kickstart the film. Generally, Baby Groot was a complete scene-stealer. Huge props to the CGI department for realizing an animated (basically) character and adding so much personality (much more than the adult Groot had) to his movements and facial expressions. I also loved the fact that his size was an asset to the team and that Baby Groot was part of a final solution, not just the cuteness relief (a cute version of comic relief). Lastly, I loved the two visual gags and how they were both part of the story and fun references to the real life – I, of course, am talking about the cameos by David Hasselhoff and Pac-Man.

Music

The film’s soundtrack was also really good – equal to the soundtrack of its predecessor. Tyler Bates was responsible for the music but I think Gunn also had a hand in picking the songs. I also appreciated the fact that the music was half-diegetic and a part of the story.

Acting/Favorite Character Moments

  • Chris Pratt (Passengers, Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven, The Lego Movie) as Peter Quill / Star-Lord. Pratt was really good in the role – he has that infinite charm of a leading man and I can’t wait for him to appear on screen with other MCU leading men, like Robert Downey Jr. I also though that Pratt’s and Kurt Russell’s/Ego’s (The Hateful Eight) chemistry was believable. I bought them as father and son for a while and that scene with the ball was really touching and a nice callback to Peter missing out on this type of activity during childhood because of a lack of father figure.
  • Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Beyond) was also good as Gamora, my favorite shot with her was when she picked up that oversized gun. Her and Karen Gillan’s/Nebula’s (The Big Short, The Circle (premiering this weekend in the US as well)) chemistry was good and the banter – really enjoyable.
  • Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. Bautista’s acting abilities have improved since the first film and his unapologetic and unironic comic relief was amazing. His budding relationship with Pom Klementieff’s Mantis was also lovely. Their scene on the steps was really moving. Klementieff was a nice addition to the cast and her performance was appropriate for the character.
  • Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta. The scene-stealer of the film. I loved the sequence where he used the arrow to escape from the Ravagers. It was just spectacular. I would have loved to see more of Rooker’s performance in subsequent films, but, oh well.
  • Vin Diesel (Fast&Furious) as the voice of Baby Groot  I have no idea why Diesel returned to voice Groot when Baby Groot sounds nothing like Vin Diesel. Well, at least they can put his name on the adverts and posters and that will get them a lot of money in China. 
  • Bradley Cooper (War Dogs, Joy) as the voice of Rocket. Cooper’s voice somehow fits Rocket’s appearance and behavior. I loved how the actor depicted the character’s dry sense of humor.
  • Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Aysha. While Debicki did look cool with all that gold make-up on, I don’t think she took the role seriously enough. Her acting seemed a bit cheesy but I am excited to see where her character’s story goes next, cause my favorite moment with her, performance-wise, was her delivery of a few lines during the mid-credits scene. In that scene, she sounded way more ominous and authenticate than she did in before.
  • Sean Gunn as Kraglin. I really liked the fact that we got to see more of Sean Gunn’s on-screen character during the sequel. If you didn’t know, he also does the motion capture for Rocket.

5 CREDITS SCENES

As James Gunn promised, the film had 5 scenes during the credits (that has to be some kind of record). 2 scenes played before the credits, 2 in the middle and 1 after. They were very well dispersed and the credits themselves did not feel long at all. The scenes were mostly related to the predeceasing film but they also set up some minor but long awaited stuff.

  1. The first pre-credits scene depicted Sean Gunn’s character Kraglin learning to work with Yondu’s arrow and failing at it. It was both funny and developed the story further.
  2. The second pre-credits scene showed Sylvester Stallone’s (Creed) character reforming the Ravagers out of the characters who were the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics. Their inclusion during the credits probably means that they will have a role to play in MCU or at least in GOTG Vol.3. It was also nice to see another scene with Stallone as he only appeared in a handful of them during the main runtime of the movie. It was basically just a cameo and if the role would not have been played by a big name talent like Stallone, no one would talk about it.
  3. The first mid-credits scene was a conclusion to The Sovereign’s plotline and a potential set up for the arrival of the long anticipated character – Adam Warlock! I really hope he finally shows up in the next film!
  4. The second mid-credits scene was probably my favorite out of all of them: it showed the teenager Groot acting as a typical teenager, while Peter attempted to be the Dad. Groot is kinda the child of the Guardians. What a dysfunctional yet lovable family.
  5. The last scene which came at the end of the credits was another Stan Lee cameo. He had a cameo in the main part of the film but it was also nice to see him again. I read online that they film a lot more scenes with Lee than they actually use, so it was quite neat that they found a place to use some more of that material.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

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Movie review: War Dogs

Movie reviews

Hello!

Another buddy comedy has hit theaters, so let’s review it!

IMDb summary: Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

War Dogs is kinda similar to the other to buddy comedies of this summer – The Nice Guys and Central Intelligence, in that they all have a contrasting duo in a lead. The film also shares some topical similarities (greed) with Pain & Gain and even The Wolf of Wall Street.

Writing

War Dogs was written by Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips, and Jason Smilovic, based on Guy Lawson’s book Arms and the Dudes, which was inspired by true events. The film’s narrative was fine – it had a few clever things to say about war, mainly, that was is an economy. It also explored the greed of people and portrayed it as the biggest flaw of humanity. Lastly, the movie touched upon the performative aspect of communication – War Dogs showed how specific individuals can read other people and modify their own manners and appearance to fit the vision that the others have of them.

The first act of the film felt a bit choppy – I couldn’t figure out where the story was going, but in the middle of the 2nd act, everything started to flow nicely. War Dogs also had a lot of narration and, while, to my mind, it worked well, to a lot of movie-goers it is a bad thing. The picture’s ending was a bit abrupt, though. I did not feel that there was a full resolution and I also thought that the two criminals got away way too easily.

Directing

Todd Phillips of The Hangover trilogy was at the helm of this picture and did a good job. War Dogs was quite a slow but really well made and entertaining film. I wanted to see a bit more action but I guess they decided to go the drama route and explore the relationship between the two characters. The intro montage set the stage for the upcoming story neatly and explained the premise clearly and concisely. I also liked the structure of the feature – how it was divided into a bunch of  vignette-like parts. The names of these vignettes, which were just random lines of dialogue, were also cool and perfectly summarized the main ideas of these specific pieces of the film. The soundtrack wasn’t bad either.

Acting

The two leads of the movie were played by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. Their characters were both clever idiots, only Hill’s character was the more crazy and greedy one, while Teller’s character was presented as the protagonist, the everyday-man that the audiences are supposed to root for.

Hill was amazing as the selfish Efraim Diveroli, the only element of his performance that annoyed me slightly was that laugh. He played a similar character in the already mentioned The Wolf of Wall Street. In addition, Hill isn’t new to the buddy comedy genre – his big break was in Superbad (the teen comedy about two guys), while in the recent years he has returned to the genre with Changing Tatum and 21+22 Jump Street. Now, Hill replaced Tatum with Teller but, thankfully, Hill’s and Teller’s chemistry is as good if not better.

Miles Teller was also great in the role of David Packouz. I’ve told you numerous times that I’m a fan of his and was extremely soud after Fantastic Four turned out the way it did. I hope that Teller will start clicking with the audiences soon, because he is a really talented actor. If you don’t belive me, just watch Whiplash. He was also good in small comedies 21 and Over, Two Night Stand and That Awkward Moment. Going forward, Teller has a boxing movie coming up as well as a drama and an action flick. I don’t know if he will return to the Divergent franchise as the last installment of that series is still up in the air and will probably go to the TV.

An important supporting role was played by Bradley Cooper who also produced the picture. Cooper was fine in the movie but I was actually much more interested to find out that he produces basically all his big films like Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper. Going forward, he has a few voice roles for Marvel/Disney and Universal.

In short, War Dogs was a fine summer picture that had a great release date – if it would have come out earlier in the summer, it would have probably been burried underneath the big blockbusters. The film had okay directing and writing, while the standout feature of the movie were the performances of and the chemistry between the two leads.

Rate: 3,5/5

Trailer: War Dogs trailer

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5 ideas about a movie: Joy

Movie reviews

Good morning/day/evening!

This week, I am trying to catch up on all the awards nominees and I think I am succeeding so far. So, let’s discuss David O.Russell’s and Jennifer Lawrence’s 3rd movie together – Joy. On a surface, it’s basically a story about selling fancy mops on QVC. However, that’s definitely not all that this movie is about. In addition, this film is one of the most light-hearted pictures of the awards’ season. The issues, explored in the film, were not as dreadful and depressing as in The Revenant, Spotlight or The Big Short . Nevertheless, the ideas, which were presented and analyzed, are as important and as serious as those darker ones.

IMDb summary: Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

  1. David O. Russell both wrote and directed Joy. I have only seen a few of his films, both starring B. Cooper and  J. LawrenceSilver Linings Playbook (which I loved) and American Hustle (which surprised me in a positive way). My feelings for the film Joy are somewhere in the middle of the love to surprise specter. I thought that the movie was a bit unfocused and the directing was only okay, nothing too spectacular or interesting. Though I liked the usage of that bad old film and the dream/nightmare sequences – they were pretty interesting.
  2. Joy’s story is based on true events and real people, however, a few things have been changed, so it’s a semi-fictional, semi-real story. The movie basically explored my biggest fear in life – exceeding in high school and going down hill from there. It also analyzed the family dynamics in one extremely dysfunctional family, which made my relatives looked so much more normal.
  3. Jennifer Lawrence was really great in the film, as it was expected. I loved that her character was strong without being bitchy or nasty to others (only when needed – loved her facial expression in the final negotiation scene). She was also very patient, nice and tolerating – all the traits that I wished that I had. I also loved the fact that she was a self-made woman with infinite amounts of persistence. Lastly, I loved the short hair up-do and what it symbolized. Since The Hunger Games (Part 1/Part 2) franchise has come to an end, Lawrence now only has one franchise left – the X-men. However, Apocalypse is probably her last film in the series, as she does not want to play Mystique anymore (because of that blue costume and nakedness). So, my prediction is that Lawrence will stick with independent and smaller films going forward. However, she will be in Passengers alongside Chris Pratt, which started as a small film, but then it casted two of the biggest stars in the world right now, so a lot is expected from it.
  4. I don’t know if I was meant to, but I really disliked the majority of the supporting characters. If these characters were intended to be terrible and just plain crazy, then the actors did a very nice job bringing them to life – I hated every single one of them. Robert De Niro played the awful father (I especially disliked him because of that line that Joy could not have been more than the housewife) while Virginia Madsen played the most uncaring and selfish mother in the world. Joy’s half-sister, played by Elisabeth Röhm, and Joy’s father’s girlfriends\ and Joy’s financier, portrayed by Isabella Rossellini, were also both atrocious characters.
  5. The film had a few positive characters, like Bradley Cooper’s Neil (Cooper was also in Aloha and Burnt this year – both quite mediocre films, but definitely still watchable), Edgar Ramirez’s Tony (recently saw this actor in Point Break) and Dascha Polanco’s Jackie – Joy’s best friend. Sadly, these characters were a bit one-sided and were not developed at all. By far the most likable character of the film (excluding Joy) was her grandma, played by Diane Ladd, who also served as the narrator of the story. She did have a lot of development as well, but the viewer could, at least, care for her a little bit, because of her relationship with Joy.

All in all, if Joy wasn’t an awards contender, I wouldn’t have probably watched it, as it is not the type of movie I enjoy. However, it is important to broaden one’s views in life, so I am glad that I’ve checked it out. Lawrence was amazing once again in a story that everybody can relate to. The messy beginning of the film and the unlikeable supporting character were the only things that brought the movie down.

Rate: 3,75/5

Trailer: Joy trailer

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Movie review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie reviews

Hi!

As you may know, I am a huge Marvel fan. I read Marvel comics, watch Marvel TV shows and one shots, can’t wait for Netflix series but most importantly I love Marvel Cinematic Universe’s movies (However, I also watched old Marvel movies like Daredevil and Blade). So, I was beyond excited to finally see Guardians of the Galaxy – the funniest, wittiest and quirkiest Marvel movie to date.

Guardians is the 10th installment in MCU. Short reminder of the MCU lineup: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor 1, Captain America 1, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, Guardians, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America 3

Summary:  After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, Peter Quill, a half human/half alien is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team known as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to save the world.

– Written by James Hake

I loved everything about this movie starting with the characters and ending with the soundtrack. It actually might be my favorite Marvel movie to date. My favorite character, of course, was Rocket Raccoon but Chris Pratt’s Star Lord was also a great leading man. Groot was so adorable, especially at the end when he was dancing. Zoe Saldana as Gamora was also amazing; I enjoyed her fight with Nebula. The only character that I wish they have worked more on was Drax. The villain (Ronan) was okay, he is not the next Loki, but pretty good. I wish we would have seen more Thanos but I guess they are saving him for Phase 3.

The storyline was also really cool, I like the fact that we got back to Infinity gems/stones storyline like in Thor 2, Avengers. If you want to know more about these gems I suggest you read Thanos Quest comic books by Jim Starlim, Ron Lim, John Beatty, and Tom Vincent. The whole story is super short (2 issues) but it gives you more information on what these gems can do and why Thanos is doing what he is doing.

Finally, we have to mention the soundtrack of this film – it was superb. You wanted to dance all the time. I went to this film on an opening night and the cinema was full of die hard Marvel fans and all of us were singing Hooked on a Feeling when it came up on screen.

Comedy was wonderful as well. I laughed more than I would laugh in a comedy movie. I also give huge props to Marvel for going in this easier, lighter, funnier direction. Another Marvel movie we got this year – Captain America 2 –was completely different, dark, moody, and serious. And this one was like a breath of fresh year after such a dark period of Hydra infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D.

About 50 people from 300 stayed through the end credits and we were rewarded and finally got to see the character we have been waiting for a long time. I liked the post credit scene but I am not sure if it was just an Eater egg for fans or if they actually are going to do it. I wish they would have showed that Avengers 2 comic con trailer after this movie.

The next film in Marvel phase is Avengers Age of Ultron . Sadly, Guardians won’t be in it but don’t be sad – a sequel has already been announced and is scheduled to be released on July 28, 2017 as a part of Phase 3. Director James Gunn will return so the tone of the movie will be the same.

Trailer: Guardians of the Galaxy trailer

Rate: 5/5

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