Mini Reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 & Colossal

Hello there folks! It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote my last review, but it’s actually just a week ago. Well, I saw two Charlie Hunnam films in two weeks… The Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I really enjoyed both, the latter is enjoyable though probably not your thing if you don’t like Guy Ritchie’s frenetic style. I’ve liked the rugged Brit for some time but I’m really quite taken with him now, uh-oh. It’s not like I have time for a new crush now though, ahah, but I sure want to see more of the bloke 😉

So here’s my review of the last two recent movies I saw:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Ok so I have to admit the release of this one sneaked up on me. If it didn’t show up on the weekly press screening list I wouldn’t have known it’s coming out. I was one of the few people who think the first one was just okay, not spectacular. I did rewatch it months later and found it to be entertaining, but nothing that warrant a sequel. But hey it’s Marvel, of course there’ll be a sequel if it hits $100mil.

Well the team is back in full psychedelic color and fun retro 80s music. This time the main plot is basically to unravel the mystery of the protagonist Peter Quill’s true parentage. It might’ve been better to release this in June around Father’s Day, not that there’s anything particularly profound about the father/son bit though. It’s tough to care for their relationship when it’s so thinly written, I didn’t even particularly care for Kurt Russell‘s casting.

Just like the original, the best part of the movie is the team spirit and all the bantering between the supporting characters. I still find Rocket (the raccoon voiced by Bradley cooper) and Drax (Dave Bautista) the funniest characters, and I’m glad they seem to beef up their roles a bit more here. I’m getting a bit tired of Baby Groot, there I said it. Yes it’s cute at first but after a while it’s just meh. I also don’t find Chris Pratt all that charming anymore, or maybe I still haven’t recovered from how awful Passengers was). There’s also more focus on the sister rivalry between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) that’s not particularly interesting. The only parts I did find quite moving is the plot involving Yondu (Michael Rooker). Oh, they also added a new character Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and her banter with Drax is quite amusing.

I feel like the novelty factor of the first movie quickly wears off. What seemed to work in the original just seems recycled this time around. Even the retro music sounds kinda meh to me. Director James Gunn & co. seem to put more effort in having a visual spectacle than an engaging story, but then again that’s kind of what I expected from this sequel. Overall, it was entertaining for two hours but nothing sticks in my mind and definitely not something I’m keen on seeing again.


Colossal (2016)

I saw the trailer on Friday night and immediately decided to see it the next day. I decided I didn’t want to know anything about it other than the trailer, and y’know what, it’s refreshing to go see a movie rather ‘blindly’ like that.

The concept for Colossal is pretty bizarre and it’s definitely ripe for some comedy gold, but I find it to be a pretty engaging drama as well. The story centers on Gloria (Anna Hathaway),  an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in NYC when her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) kicked her out. So she moved back home to her parents’ abandoned house, while at the same time a giant creature came out of nowhere destroying Seoul.

In the trailer it’s made clear that there is Gloria is somehow bizarrely connected to this phenomenon, and when it’s revealed how, it’s really quite hilarious! I don’t want to give too much away because I really think you should go into this movie knowing as little as possible, but there’s an interesting message about friendship and taking responsibilities for one’s action.

It’s kind of a coming-of-age moment for Gloria, and her character evolution is quite believable.  I have to admit I’m not Hathaway’s biggest fan but she is quite effective and relatable here, which makes me root for Gloria despite her obvious flaws. I also like Jason Sudekis as Gloria’s childhood friend Oscar, who’s more than just a comic relief in the movie. However I feel like his character is oddly written, it’s as if the revelation to his true self seemed to come out of left field. But at least his character has an arc whilst Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell as Oscar’s friends barely registered.

Overall I enjoyed Colossal immensely. It was amusing with some thoroughly enjoyable moments. I haven’t seen anything by Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo before, but I applaud his originality and wit, even if the execution isn’t perfect. The movie is so absurd at times but therein lies the charm. It reminded me of Safety Not Guaranteed, which I also saw on a whim a few years ago, with a bit of Pacific Rim thrown in.

I highly recommend this one if you’re in the mood for something out of the box.


Well, have you seen either one of these? What did YOU think?

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of AUGUST 2014

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I can’t believe we’ve reached the ‘ber’ month already which soon will turn to ‘brrrrr’ months 😦 It’s really quite depressing to see fashion magazines AND stores are now full of sweaters and coats once again. I’m holding off on buying ANYTHING with long sleeves until at least end of September! [yes I’m in denial Summer is basically over].

Ok, on to the monthly recap!

It’s a rather slow month for press screenings as some of them were held in the morning or I’m simply not interested enough in seeing them. But I think the next few months will hopefully be a lot busier. August is definitely a sad month for film fans & beyond. We lost the great Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and Sir Richard Attenborough 😦

Posts you might’ve missed:

Blog Relay & Blogathons:

That last blogathon was a lot of fun to work on all weekend and I REALLY took my time writing and finding photos of Toby Stephens 😉 Speaking of the handsome devil, I started August by finally catching up with Noël Coward’s Private Lives starring well, you know, which I enjoyed tremendously!

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New-to-me Movies:

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Into The Storm (2014)

Zodiac (2007)

Aug Blindspot: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
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There’s nothing amazing about this one, in fact I’m glad I never bothered seeing it on the big screen. I didn’t care for the Peter-Gwen romance and the villains are laughably bad. Dane Dehaan was okay before he turned into Green Goblin, blech (2 out 5)

Enemy (2014)
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I expected this one to be a weird film and it certainly was. It’s not as disturbing as I thought but it’s definitely a strange film, though the story itself isn’t that groundbreaking. People with arachnophobia should steer clear of this movie though. Jake Gyllenhaal is good playing a dual role, but the pace is far too tedious for my liking. (3.5 out of 5)

Gambit (2012)
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Ok so I’ve been warned by the terrible 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but I figure a movie starring Colin Firth and Alan Rickman (one of my fave actors ever) in a script written by the Coen Brothers can’t be THAT bad. Alas, despite some comic moments (mostly from Firth in a slapstick mode), there’s very little to recommend this one. Plus Cameron Diaz is as annoying as ever here. (2 out of 5)

The French Minister (2013)
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We’re in the mood for a comedy Sunday night and the trailer for this one piqued our interest. It’s similar to In the Loop but set in France instead of England, with a heck of a lot less swearing. I think it was pretty hilarious and the main actor who plays the Minister’s speech writer, Raphaël Personnaz, reminds me a bit of Jason Bateman with his constantly baffled expression. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for a zany foreign comedy. (4 out of 5)

Rewatches:

Favorite Movie Seen in August 2014:

This is an easy pick for this month. Though I’m not in love with this movie as most people are, I still think it’s a fun & enjoyable comic-book flick with an absolutely awesome soundtrack. I definitely will rent this later when it’s out on Bluray!

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So, what movies did you get to see in August and which one is your favorite?

FlixChatter Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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I have to admit that I wasn’t remotely interested in seeing this one from the moment I first heard about it. For one thing, I was beginning to get bored of yet another Marvel superhero movie, and another reason is I have never even heard of who these characters are. Though it seems that a lot of my fellow bloggers are getting superhero fatigue, clearly the average movie goers are still gung ho about them, as GOTG has proven itself to be another big hit for Marvel. According to Box Office Mojo, by Friday estimates, it already out-earned two of Marvel’s sequels: Captain America 2 and Thor 2 and on its way to make close to $100 mil by the first weekend, wow!

The audience in the packed advanced screening on Tuesday seemed to have a good time with this movie, and I was surprised too how entertaining it was. The protagonist this time isn’t a superhero, he’s a regular boy-next-door human named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who got abducted by a space ship just minutes after his mother died at a hospital. Fas forward twenty six years later, we see Peter on planet Morag stealing an orb that turns out to be a highly-coveted artifact wanted by the master villain Ronan (Lee Pace). The scene is reminiscent of Raiders Of The Lost Ark opening sequence and you could say Peter has the kind of swagger and cheeky attitude of Indiana Jones. Needless to say, Peter then gets embroiled in a manhunt, not just from Ronan but also from a group of space pirates led by Yondu (Michael Rooker) who apparently the same folks that snatched young Peter from earth years ago.

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I think people who read the comics would appreciate this movie more, as they’d be more familiar with the cosmic universe where everything takes place. A lot of the things happening here baffles me but I went along for the ride anyway. Peter suddenly ends up in planet called Xandar and ends up getting arrested by Nova Corps, the space militia led by Glenn Close, sporting similar hairdo as in 101 Dalmatians. It’s in the Xandar prison that Peter meets his would-be teammates: a wisecrackin’, gun-toting, raccoon called Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Vin Diesel), bad-ass assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a personal vendetta against Ronan. It’s an unlikely quartet that constantly bicker and fight, but of course they have no choice but to work together.

Guardians of the Galaxy is more of a space action comedy, akin to Galaxy Quest or The Fifth Element. But the irreverent and at times cheesy humor works here and there’s such a fun spirit throughout that is contagious. The one-liners are packed with goofy 80s pop-culture references (Kevin Bacon, John Stamos) to self-satirical ones like “I’m gonna die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” Director James Gunn and writer Nicole Perlman (first female writer of a Marvel movie, yay!) are certainly aware of the its inherent silliness and the movie definitely works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perhaps this is an antithesis of sort to the standard superhero fare as none of the characters here possess any kind of super powers. But what the characters have in spades is humor, charm and even warmth, as the unlikely group slowly bond together.

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Now for the cast, I have to say that Chris Pratt [now part of the Marvel trifecta of Chris-es w/ Chris Hemsworth & Chris Evans] is a hoot and no doubt this movie will launch him to be a star. There’s a scene where a space henchman calls him Star Lord and Peter quips ‘finally!’ It’s almost art imitating life as Pratt has been in a bunch of major movies in supporting roles, in fact, three of them were nominated for Oscar 3 years in a row: Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball, and Her. But now it’s his moment to shine and he’s such a charming, affable dude you can’t help but root for him. The rest of the cast is pretty good in their roles and I have to say Cooper as the fast-talking raccoon with a chip on his shoulder is quite the scene-stealer! I wonder just what the heck Cooper was thinking taking this job after a two Oscar nominations back to back, as he could easily play Peter Quill as well, but y’know what, I think he did a smashing job as Rocket. Diesel too, surprisingly makes the most of his only one line in the movie, ‘I am Groot’ all the way to the end.

It’s always nice when a movie surprises you in a pleasant way when you have such little expectations about it. But still I’m surprised by the stellar reviews that seem to surpass even Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I think is a better movie. Yes of course GOTG is a lot of fun and I was genuinely entertained, but it’s hardly flawless. Some critics call it edgy but the plot is not exactly fresh, we’ve got a space psychopath hellbent on destroying the world and it’s up to these unlikely heroes to save everyone, nothing new there. It doesn’t help matters that the villains are pretty ho-hum and lacking real menace. Poor Lee Pace is rather wasted here as Ronan is as boring as the villain in Thor 2. Same could be said for his female sidekick Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Thanos (uncredited Josh Brolin), which to me makes more impact in The Avengers‘ post-credit scene than here. I do like Rooker as Yandu, his performance reminds me of Michael Wincott who’s no stranger to playing bad guys.

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So the good guys definitely have more fun, even John C. Reilly is a hoot as a Nova Corpsman, especially in the hilarious finale. For sure the heroes were never in any danger in being upstaged by the villains. Visually speaking it’s as good as I expect from a big-budget Marvel movie, the 3D is pretty good but at the same time I honestly can’t think of an action scene that stand out to me. What’s truly awesome is the soundtrack! As a big fan of 80s music, the retro soundtrack is pure nostalgic fun! The gist is that Peter’s mom made an Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape for him that he constantly plays on his walkman. Most Millennials probably think of it as some ancient artifact ahah, but hey I definitely remember those and making tapes of songs from the radio [oh boy am I dating myself or what?] The song played in the trailer, Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, will be forever associated with this movie, and there are others I definitely recognize even if I can’t remember them by name.

Amidst all the clutter of all the goofy actions, there’s actually a bit of emotional touches here and there. So overall this movie proves to be a pleasant surprise and one I don’t even mind watching again. Not as spectacular as people led you to believe, but still worth a look if you’re initially skeptical. Everyone of all ages should enjoy this, just don’t expect too much in the way of plot and you’ve got yourself two hours of a rollicking good time.

3.5 reels


So what do YOU think of Guardians of the Galaxy? 

Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of JULY 2014

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WHOAH! We’ve reached the last month of Summer already! Ok so September is still pretty warm but once we reach the ‘ber’ months, it’s all downhill from here 😦 Ok let’s not think about it for now. In a way I’m kinda glad Blockbuster Season is [nearly] over though. Though there are a few that end up in my Top 10 Fave of the year so far, there are still a lot I’m anticipating for the rest of 2014! I’d say, the best is yet to come and I sure hope there are a couple films I wasn’t anticipating that sneak in to end up being a pleasant surprise!

Ok, on to the monthly recap!

I finally got through season 2 of Downtown Abbey, yay! It’s really tough for me to be discipline with TV shows but I hope to get through all four seasons before season 5 starts in January. Oh man, soooo much drama in Season 2, but it ends on such a lovely & romantic note [swoon].

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Posts you might’ve missed:

Blogathon Relay:

New-to-me Movies:

Not a lot of rewatches or even new movies this month. Somehow there aren’t a lot of press screenings that I was interested in this past month, in fact I only went to two of them all month!

  • Snowpiercer (2014)
  • Dawn to the Planet of the Apes (2014)
  • The Guardian of the Galaxy (2014) – review coming soon
  • Torn Curtain (1965)  – review coming soon
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
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    Thanks to my pal Ted for lending me the Blu-ray! I was curious to check this out as I really like the last two reboot films. Despite the dated visual effects, etc. it’s still entertaining and thought-provoking, and glad I didn’t know about the twist in the end as I really didn’t see that coming!
  • Purple Noon/Plein Soleil (1960) – July BlindSpot
  • Sex Tape (2014) – Ashley’s review
  • Jersey Boys (2014) – Sarah’s review

Rewatches:

Not a lot of rewatches or even new movies this month. Somehow there aren’t a lot of press screenings that I was interested in this past month, in fact I only went to two of them all month!

  • Gladiator (2000)
  • Bed of Roses (1996)
  • It Could Happen to You (1994)
  • Jane Eyre (2006 BBC miniseries)

Favorite Movie Seen in July 2014:

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This is an easy pick for this month. I’m hugely impressed with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and definitely will be seeing it again when it’s out on Blu-ray. It’s a technical and visual marvel but the story is engaging and heart-wrenching, it’s got all the ingredients that make a film epic and memorable. Hail Caesar!


So, what movies did you get to see in July and which one is your favorite?

Question of the Week: How do you [REALLY] feel about the endless supply of superhero movies?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today’s question is inspired by my viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy last night, and also the recent festivities of San Diego Comic-con.

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I also just read this article written by my friend Raul Marin at Film Inquiry where he talks about Marvel vs. DC and who will win in the end. Now here’s my answer I left on the post:

Even with the fervor of San Diego Comic-con of late, I’m not as excited as I once was for either Avengers or Batman vs Superman. I mean it’s cool seeing those actors on stage and stuff but I’m not as gung-ho about the movies as I did a few years back. I’m still excited for certain stand-alone films, i.e. The Winter Soldier but that’s only because the espionage aspect intrigues me. So at this point, I don’t really care which one will win in the end, tho looks like Marvel still has the upper hand.

So I guess you could say I’m getting superhero-fatigue. I know some people probably already reached that point much sooner than I did, but clearly there are still more who haven’t or these movies won’t perpetually get made. I used to get super excited over Superman, I mean I did all those countdown posts for Man of Steel, but my excitement for its sequel has dropped significantly, as you can see I barely blog about it any more. Raul stated in his post that “…three of the top ten highest-grossing films of all-time are from the superhero genre” and before we know it, all of the top 10 highest grossing would be made up by this super lucrative genre.

GOTHAM_FoxFallI just read this article posted by Screenrant that says Marvel Studios Has Mapped Out Films All The Way To 2028! And that’s just ONE studio, I’m sure DC is not far behind and SONY milking the Spider-man franchise for all its worth down to its last web, as they’re now spin-offing Spidey’s villains. Sinister Six is apparently set for 2016 with its sequel in 2018 [face palm]. I’m so bored with the Spidey franchise already, as I skipped The Amazing Spider-man and probably won’t even rent it. I think my excitement for the first Spidey reboot was highly influenced by seeing Andrew Garfield up-close at Comic-con.

It’s not just the movies, television is bursting with superhero-themed shows with no sign of slowing down. The most-buzzed about new Fall show is the Batman prequel GOTHAM, which seems to be getting positive buzz so far. I might check it out simply out of curiosity, but who knows how long I will keep tuning in, as I got tired of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D after just half a dozen episodes.

So clearly the superhero genre is flexing their Thor-sized muscles even more than before. Is the superhero bubble at its tipping point now and ready to burst at any moment? It seems far-fetched now but it’s happened to other popular genres before so I don’t think any genre is exempt from falling out of mainstream’s market. To say the superhero market is over-saturated is putting it mildly, but hey, Hollywood loves money so they’ll do whatever it takes to keep this craze going and going and going …


So what say you folks? How do you [REALLY] feel about the superhero movies? Are they becoming ho-hum or are you still gung-ho for ’em?