Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Refines the Original

I am going to be one of the few critics to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 improves upon it’s predecessor Guardians of the Galaxy. I did like the first one but not as much as most people did so my standards were a little bit lower but still, I like it when I feel a sequel improves upon the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like a refined version of Guardians of the Galaxy. The basic concepts are the same. They are still the five superheroes working as a team working towards defeating an enemy who aims to overcome a villain. What made me smile was how clever I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 executed it.

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I’m glad they used Groot in the story he was funny and was a contributing factor in the story. I was worried that the only reason he was in the movie was to sell toys.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has two small changes from the original that enhanced my experience of it dramatically. Both of them involved making logical, important character developments in the narrative. Add in a bit of restraint of humor in the script and that’s it.

A Better Script helps make a Better Movie

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A well-written script is a delight to see and great to hear

One of my main complaints in the original Guardians of the Galaxy was that they used humor in climatic battles to patronize their villains which lost a dramatic edge in a fight sequence that I felt was needed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Peter Quell (Chris Pratt) or Rocky (Bradley Cooper) telling jokes (like telling a guard to change his self-proclaimed name from “Taserface” into something like “Scrotumhead”) but I don’t like it all the time. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. there was joke-restraint in climatic scenes and I believed in moments which they suggested the Guardians or the villain were going to lose (or win) a fight. I invested a lot more in the climatic battles simply because the movie aimed to be more serious about it.

The Supporting Actors that made this Movie Great

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Kurt Russel and Michael Hooker are Gods half-metaphorically speaking 😉

There are two little (but significant) character developments in the movie. One of which is about Ego (Kurt Russel) and the other which was about Yondu (Michael Rooker). What you get to know about these two characters is a major part of the story’s development and I didn’t expect it to have been executed any better. When the movie fully fleshes out those two characters, it hightened my interest even more and brought the movie up several notches.

Other mish mash (The Movie Review’s B-Sides)

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The Taserface of the review: Worth mentioning but not worth devoting entire paragraphs to.

 

Despite the fact I think Guardians of the Galexy Vol.2 was better than the original, there were a couple of minor misteps and observations that I feel are worthy of note that I will give three of them out in bullet form.

1. The soundtrack was more on-the-nose with their songtitles which was a bit eyerolling. At least they fit the movie’s tone more than the original

2. The movie does a complete character change to Drax (Dave Bautista) from being somewhat menicing and having austistic tendancies to just being completly goofy. It was weird.

3. I felt the resolution was a little overdone and I’ll just kept it at that.

Beyond that, this is more-or-less the same movie as the original Guardians of the Galaxy so if you liked the original I think you will like this. It probably won’t convert people who already didn’t like the original though.

Thank God Marvel exists. They are not perfect (cough X-Men Apocalypse cough) but they have a good track record of making big blockbuster movies that work. They don’t make me think their movies are mearly technical excercises that end up feeling like a monetary landfill. This was fun and appealing to watch. ****1/4

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Guardians of the Galaxy- The First One

The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space with the film's title, credits and slogan.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies where positive reception from fans and critics alike was a near-certainty. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films people will look back on because it was an innovator especially for 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy mostly works because of the humor, drama, and likability of characters which is what drew me into liking this film.

The plot: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals an orb that has the power to destroy life in order to sell for cash (not knowing the powerful nature of the orb at the time). This gets him in a tangle with bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) who have to work with each other to defeat a bigger enemy called Ronan

The plot summarized: I am Groot

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I want this to be on my drivers licence

I liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Did I love it? I’m not so sure. What I credit Guardians of the Galaxy in doing is getting a film containing a multi-star cast over with critics and audiences and myself as that is a tough task to accomplish. I also appreciate it for being innovative by being a superhero movie that wins the audience through humor while mixing in a tinge of drama. In most superhero movies pre- Guardians of the Galaxy that was the other way round.

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The power of dance knows no bounds. If only this was used on Doomsday in Batman vs. Superman, it might have made more sense. Shots have been fired.

The problem is, I am watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time in 2017 is that I have seen many superhero movies doing exactly the same thing: Using wacky jokes in order to be liked. Power Rangers, Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie, and Deadpool have also tried to succeed by using lots of in-jokes and meta humor to varying degrees of success. Still, I would rank Guardians of the Galaxy second behind Deadpool out of the movies that I mentioned. That’s a good ranking considering the other movies could have refined what Guardians of the Galaxy paved.

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Peter explans to Drax the meaning behind slitting a person’s throat by putting his finger on his throat. This goes for nearly thirty seconds. It’s a rare movie where a lot of the humour comes from explaining jokes or gestures.

I liked the meta humor to a point. That point was reached when the would be a dramatic point in a conflict in which one of the main characters (mainly Peter) would interject by saying jokes when I thought it was unnecessary as it patronized the main villain Ronan. It watered down the payoff of key fight scenes in the movie. It made me believe that the heroes were not taking the main antagonist Ronan seriously. If the Guardians of the Galaxy treat the villain like a joke, I see no reason to take the threat seriously and therefore I don’t care for the Guardian’s fates. It felt like the movie was selling itself short.

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I say that this secne where the guardians unite is a good scene however Rocket the raccoon believes they look like “A bunch of jackasses” You be the judge.

What wasn’t sold short was everything else in the movie from the character development of all four Guardians of the Galaxy as a cohesive unit from bounty hunters who are all in for themselves to the bonding through grief in order to work together and destroy the villain. The emotional payoffs of the four characters worked and made me want to see them fight and win.

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The special efferects are great. It’s not exclusivly purple like Battlefield Earth. There are a variety of colours and textures that are pleasing to the eye in this movie.

The special effects were wild and beautiful to look at most of the time. Marvel have this thing nailed down where they show a lot of colors and shades in their special effects and you never feel like you are drenched in it. Doctor Strange, in my opinion, is still the best superhero movie for the GCI that it had, but Guardians is yet again a close second. It adds a lot of life to the movie and it’s always got me in wanting to see it.

So, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as perfect as what people made me believe, but I am still happy with the final product. Like a lot of three-star movies I give, all they need is some refining and it would have gone a long way with my enjoyment of it. Still, like any three-star movie, I cannot deny I enjoyed it ***3/4

Passangers: Creepy to Say the Least

Written by Nelson Cumming

I was only a baby. My mum gave me a candy as she was strolling outside with her pram. I was happy. Just as I was about to take a bite when a bitter old man snatched the candy from my feeble hands. I cried. He bellowed ” Ha Ha Ha! That was as easy as taking candy from a baby!”

Passengers reminded me of that fictitious moment in my life.

Passengers was a great experience at the start. Then the central plot point comes to fruition. I saddened by it. It all went downhill from there.

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This is a perfect line graph measuring my excitiment level during Passengers

The best bits in Passengers are the setup and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. The setup is that 5,000 people are in cryogenic sleep in space pods on a spaceship called Avalon as they travel from Earth to a new planet called Homested II (Homested I is not explained. Probably because adding a “II” to the end sounds smarter). The trip takes more than 120 years hence the cryogenic sleep.

Due to a system error, Pratt’s character wakes up from his slumber 90 years too early. He then tries to learn to live in social isolation. That is a pretty cool setup. There are a lot of ideas you could do there. Then it takes an awkward turn…

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Left: How the trailer markets the relationship between the key characters. Right: How the movie actually does it.

Pratt sees a girl in the hibernation pod (Jennifer Lawrence) that he likes and wants her as her social companion but knows that releasing her pod would mean living the rest of her life on the spaceship (essentally killing her). Being alone for a year and not being able to stand the loneliness…

HE WAKES HER UP!

That is when Passengers starts to suck.

Up until this point. I was surprised how interesting Passengers was. It has really good cinematography and set design. It was clean but not surgically clean while being futuristic but not going overly sci-fi.

The idea of being isolated on a ship was interesting and they could have explored the concepts and moral consequences of forced pre-determinism they did in Arrival. Or they could have saved that for the big reveal in the end (he wakes her up in the first act of the movie). It could of been a thriller cat-and-mouse story as well.

No. Instead they justify Pratt being a creepy dude. Essentially killing the Jennifer Lawrence character just to get a shot with her. In my opinion, that is a crappy reason for the unwanted social suicide.

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Pratt: “Screw your friends, you’re with me in a confined area for the rest of your life! I clip my toenails in bed hahaha”.

This movie really is a middle of the road movie with a layer of bad. The movie tries to portray itself as high-brow because it is set in outer space. Don’t be fooled by it. It touches on ideas that not only never materialize but get so wildly misguided that it is not funny.

Then the third act goes haywire. It devolves into punchy, punchy, smashy, smashy, screamy, screamy, lovey, dovey. You have seen the ending before in a million other movies. By the end, I was wondering what movie Passengers could have been given the great setup. *1/2

The Magificent Seven Review

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Get ready of some inception-like philosophy here folks. The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a remake of a remake. 2016 has been a year of sequels and remakes and The Magnificent Seven is the most remakest- remake of the year. If you have seen a western (or better yet a movie) you have seen this movie. Despite that, The Magnificent Seven delivers a basic minimum requirement for a casual viewer to enjoy.

The premise will be familiar to any western fan as it involves a bad guy Bartholomew Bourke (Peter Sarsgaard) taking over a town called Rose Creek. Motivated by a very hefty payment, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) a bounty hunter, aims to usurp Bourke and restore Rose Creek to its people. Chisolm realizes that he cannot take over without a little help. So recruit six others to make up The Magnificent Seven.

The first third: A slog

Like The Hateful Eight, The Magnificent Seven starts off very slow. Aside from the first scene where Bourke takes Rose Creek by storm, the narrative pacing is slow and plodding. This section what I like to call “the recruitment section” where Chisolm recruits the six other protagonists who are followed by Emma Cullen Haley Bennett, the girl who hires them.

The dialogue in this section does not help. The dialogue consists of same lines you hear from any other western. When Chisolm asks Cullen when she makes the killer proposal if she is doing this for revenge she responds “I seek righteousness. But I will go for revenge”. Who expected a Catholic girl in the west in the 19th century to say that!

To Movie Studios: Fix The Southern Accent Please

After seeing such movies as The Hateful Eight, The Revenant and now The Hateful Eight. I have to say that I cannot hear a lot of dialogue that is spoken in a thick southern accent. I strain my ears trying to decipher the words. Then after a while, I think “stuff it” and make assumptions of the dialogue based the characters and the context.

To actors and studios around the world: If you want to create a memorable character or a character that has real meaning, make sure they speak well enough so we understand them. I talked to a ton of people about Tom Hardy in The Revenant and a lot of them didn’t know what he was saying.
I didn’t know what half the people were saying The Magnificent Seven due to their thick southern accents. Please fix that accent Hollywood.

The Actions Spoke Louder than the Words

After the poor start, The Magnificent Sever gets better as the action scenes were entertaining. At least with The Magnificent Seven, all seven members were working together to help defend prepare for a gigantic enemy onslaught. They try to teach the civilians their combat skills and prepare traps. Think of it like Home Alone except on a macro level and without the comedy (which is a good thing)

The action sequences were a ton of gunfight with lots of different gimmicks from the seven to keep the action from becoming monotonous. One of them is a native American who shoots arrows, another is an Asian American who fights with knives and another just likes to bludgeon people but the violence is not too graphic or bloody

Despite the length of the action sequences, none of them drag out. I have to applaud the filmmakers and set designers for that. Different people with different places with different weapons with various outcomes keep the sequences interesting.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven is not a poor remake but not is it a great one. A lot of things in this movie I have seen many times before and there were very few things that felt fresh and inventive. It is a mildly entertaining carbon copy of the originals but it is a carbon copy of the mass produced line nonetheless. I did not feel ripped off, but nor did I feel there was a reason for this remake to exist **3/4