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: Pixels

Movie reviews

Hello!

I hope you are ready to travel back to the 1980s because this is the review of the Pixels. Enjoy!

To begin with, I think that this movie wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe by a lot of reviews from my most trustworthy critics. It wasn’t a flawless film but it definitely wasn’t the worst Sandler film and that’s saying something. Well, not really. Let’s just continue with the review.

Even before reading and watching the reviews of Pixels, I had my own doubts. One of them is the fact that Pixels is a Sony film, and, with the recent developments within the inside of that company and a track record of terrible films (if you mess Spider Man up for the 3rd time, the nerds won’t allow the 4th time to happen), I was worried how this movie will turn out. The other doubt inspiring thing is the the main start of the motion picture – Adam Sandler. His movies have been getting worse and worse, almost all of them were financial flops and didn’t earn any praises from the critics and fans alike. Personalty, my favorite Sandler’s films are Bedtime Stories and the Grown Ups. Both of them were also panned by the critics, though, I found them enjoyable as a 12 year old. However, 6 years later I can’t say the same about Pixels.

IMDb summary: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games. Pixels feature film is actually based on a French animated short film with the same name by Patrick Jean. 

Premise 

The premise of the film was genius and had a lot of potential. We have seen films based on video games, but never have these movies actually acknowledge that the games are real and alive. For example, if you take the Need for Speed film (review), you can see that they never talk about any games; they just set their movie in the same world that the game’s action takes place or maybe they borrow some characters and stories from the game. But Pixels goes full on gaming mode and includes a plethora of old games (Centipede, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Pac-Man). They were definetely trying to make the old arcaders feel nostalgia. However, I do believe that they were also trying to appeal to the current gaming community. Gaming channel are huge on YouTube – just look at PewDiePie.

The fact that the movie includes a wide variety of different games begs for me to mention the product placement portion of the film. A few times, I really felt like I was watching a commercial. They should have been more careful with the commercial and merchandise side of the film.

Personally, I’m not a huge gamer. I remember playing Super Mario on an old Terminator 2 console (also know as Nintendo with yellow cartridges) in the early 2000s. Terminator 2 was the Eastern European version Nintendo Famicom. Yes, even when the Cold War ended, life was still hard for people, living in post-Soviet Union countries. On a side note, even though 25 years have passed, I still feel the division between the west and the east today. However, the Internet helps to remove the differences, which I am extremely happy about. But back to the film.

Story

The scrip and the story of the film were quite clever. The cheating twist was interesting and very realistic. However, I didn’t felt like I was watching a comedy, because I didn’t really laugh much.

Also, a few scenes in the film took place in India for the sole purpose of making this film more appealing to Asian audiences. Get that damn Asian money, Sony!

Acting and Cameos

  • Adam Sandler was okay in the film. I quite liked his romantic comedy scenes with Michelle Monaghan’s character. However, her chracater didn’t have anything to do, except be the love interest.
  • Kevin James was also in the film, as usual with Sandler films. His part was the most unbelievable one.
  • Josh Gad tried to be the funny one but ended up being the stupid one. I really do prefer Gad as a voice actor.
  • Peter Dinklage was the coolest part of the film and one of the reasons that I was excited about the movie (Game of Thrones, duh). His physical appearance was also great.
  • Ashley Benson was another reason I wanted to see this film, because I am a Pretty Little Liars fan. However, I was really dispapointed. I waited the whole film for her to show up and she had only 3 scenes at the end. She didn’t even said a word, just stood there looking pretty.
  • Denis Akiyama played Toru Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man. I wish they would have let the actual creator of Pac-Man play himself because we do see him in the film. The real Tory Iwatani cameos as an Electric Dream Factory repairman.
  • Sean Bean was also in the film for no reason whatsoever.
  • Serena Williams and Martha Stewart make cameo appearances as themselves. Their cameos were the only ones that worked.
  • Also, the film had a plethora of 80s stars appearing in alien messages That made the film seem more grounded, so good job.

Visuals

The visuals effect of the film looked really amazing. The way the video game figures moved and dissolved into tiny pixelated cubes was a wonderful feast for the eyes. The end credits design and the GAME OVER at the end of the film were also really appropriate additions to the overall theme of the film.

Directing 

The film was directed by Chris Columbus. I have seen a number of his films. He directed the Mrs. Doubtifre, the first two Home Alones and the first two Harry Potters as well as produced the Night at the Museum films as well as 2011’s Oscar nominated drama The Help. This probably won’t be his best movie (I mean, look at what he’s done), but I still believe that Pixels won’t be a stain on his resume, because the directing aspect of the film was really good. The action scenes looked exciting and interesting. Moreover, they looked realistic and that’s really hard to do while working with the green screen. And this movie needed a lot of green screen, I suppose.

All in all, Pixels was a fun film that exceeded my expectations, which, to be fair, were quite low to begin with. However, if you love video games and if you are a fan of the staring actors or if you just want to see whether Sandler still has what it takes to make a good comedy, go see this film. Bye!

Rate: 3.25/5

Trailer: Pixels trailer

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