Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn, is the sequel to the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy from 2014, and stars a cavalcade of actors and actresses. Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.
I, like so many other people, were blown away and subsequently loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Heh, do you remember when we weren’t sure if this was gonna score? Foresight, huh?
Needless to say, I was amazingly hyped for this movie. It just appealed to me on a basic level; it was probably the music. I’ll say right now tried to be objective as I could whilst watching, to little effect. Because hell yeah, this is a good sequel.
The movie is going the Sam Raimi Spider-Man route in the sense that its more personal and introspective than the first movie. It’s expanding on the characters, and most of them get development that I found to be very intriguing and actually pretty interesting. I cared for these characters, and it made me feel emotions that the current MCU hasn’t at all.
The cast is the same as it was last movie, so it’s great. The main Guardians work off of each other very well. Starlord and Gamora get the most depth in this, which gives Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana some actual leeway to act, and it works. Down the line is Yondu and Rocket, whom also both work very well off each other. Bautista’s Drax and Baby Groot get the least development and mostly serve as comic relief, but I’ll be damned if they don’t work.
We got a few new characters too, and for the most part they work. Pom Klementiff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha and Sean Gunn as Kraglin are at the very least memorable and harmless. We’ll probably get more from them in later films.
And then we have motherfucking Jack Burton himself, Kurt Russell as the villain Ego. A memorable villain that’s not Loki? Who sacrificed a goat for this miracle because I wanna thank them. He absolutely ruled in this movie. Thumbs way up for me here.
Of course, the 70’s music is one of this franchise’s most distinct and unique features, and here it does not disappoint. The “songs-I-knew-before-watching” number may have dropped from 4 to 2, but it just works. The fact that most of those songs are in my phone now prove that.
I really am trying to find some flaws here. I suppose some of the jokes don’t hit, and there’s one particular joke that they dragged probably a bit too much, but for the most part it flows fine. The funny scenes are funny, and the sad scenes actually strike. This a a good movie and a damn good sequel.
So yeah, in conclusion, if you liked the first movie, then you will have no problems watching this one. This is this generation’s Star Wars, I tell you. Some kids are gonna grow up with Rocket Raccoon and Groot instead of R2-D2 and C3PO, and that’s completely fine by me.
The Fate of the Furious, directed by F. Gary Gray, is the newest film in the now legendary Fast and Furious franchise. With Dom and Letty married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.
I’ll admit this out front. Unlike Power Rangers or Smurfs: The Lost Village, I absolutely love the Fast and Furious franchise. I grew up with the series. I have all the movies on DVD. I have fond childhood memories of watching all of them except Fast Five, and that was because we had a crappy copy of it. Hell, I even liked Tokyo Drift!
Me trying to be objective here is just nigh impossible. I grew up with Dominic Toretto, with Brian O’ Connor, with Letty, Mia, Roman Pierce, Tej, all those guys. There’s an emotional connection here. I just thought I should preface this review with that, because yeah, I like this movie.
This movie is fucking stupid. I love it.
That about sums my feelings for the movie. It’s over-the-top, it knows it’s over the top, and it embraces it with the bulging biceps of Dwayne Johnson. This is the blockbuster at its most purest form.
Fate of the Furious is of course continuing where the last one left off, and I’m sure we all remember that the last one was the last time Paul Walker would be in the series. The emotional goodbye at the end of Furious 7 was just about as heart-breakingly sweet as it could’ve been. They do reference Brian in this movie, and the ending is also pretty bittersweet-I heard a few “awws” in the theater-but it’s not as powerful as the last one. But it didn’t had to be, and I appreciate that. Seeing Brian not being a part of this new story is somewhat weird and sad since it involves his closest friend, but Brian’s-and subsequently Paul’s-departure from this movie was done well enough.
The central cast has not changed at all, and they’re as charismatic as ever. Vin Diesel is actually given a bit more leeway to act, because betraying family and all that. He works fine, and the serious parts work well. It all serves to make us hate the villain, and in that sense I’d say it works.
Speaking of the villain, Charlize Theron as Cipher was sadly forgettable. I hate her in the movie, yes, but she’s not as memorable as say, Jason Statham. Then again, they did make me want to see Dominic beat the absolute fuck out of her in the sequel, so I guess they did their job.
There’s really not much else to say about this movie, other than be amazed at how 7 movies on, this series is stronger than ever. The kid inside me is so happy for that.
If this is your first Fast and Furious movie…why? It’s not just that they bring back characters from 3 movies ago that even took me a while to remember, why now? Go watch the whole series through first, damn it.
But besides that, yeah. In conclusion, Fate of the Furious is cheesy fun, but what the hell else did you expect?
xXx: Return of Xander Cage, directed by D. J. Caruso, stars Vin Diesel as the titular Cage and is set years after the original movie, where Cage faked his death and went into self-exile. He is found and called back, and now he must race against time to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s Box, a device that controls every military satellite in the world. Recruiting a new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of government.
Believe me, it’s not as cool as it sounds.
How does one objectively critique a movie when it doesn’t take itself seriously? I mean, this movie certainly doesn’t. It has a cameo from a footballer whom apparently is secret agent worthy, for goodness sake.
The plot? Pffh. Who cares about something like that? It’s just there to tie up the action set-pieces, right?
I suppose the only way I can really judge it is on how entertaining it was to me. And for the most part, it was…lackluster. Anything that didn’t involve Donnie Yen or Tony Jaa was an incomprehensible mess, but hey, what else do you expect from a multi-million dollar mainstream action movie? We don’t want to potentially hurt our stars!
If it seems like I’m giving this movie a bashing, it’s because I am. We deserve better action scenes, damnit! The John Wick franchise won’t cut it!
But I will say that for the all around poor action scenes, the movie makes up for it with charisma and a general fun attitude. I won’t deny that I enjoyed myself in the theater.
The acting ranges from “eh” to “Jesus shit biscuits what were they thinking”. Vin Diesel blazes through the whole thing having the time of his life, and I’ll give the movie props for not casting Jaa and Yen as the silent, stern, no-bullshit kung fu master archetype, even though I myself actually like that archetype. They actually get to smile in this.
But when it drops the ball though…what the hell was Toni Collette doing? I have never heard dialogue delivery that frustrated me, but I guess there’s a first for everything. Her tone is off, her facial expressions are off, her delivery is way off; thank God she appears in the movie less than she could’ve had.
But besides that turd of a performance, it’s overall fine. You can see most of them are just doing whatever and having fun, and in a way I can respect that.
In conclusion, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not a good movie, but it’s definitely a fun movie. It’s worth seeing it in the theater if it’s as a matinee price.