2017 Summer Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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The Guardians are back to save the galaxy in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. (Source: IMDb)

Oh—it’s great to see these band of misfits back together!

2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy became a surprise hit among general audiences. It featured the most unusual groups of heroes. Ranging from a man from Earth raised by aliens, a green-skinned alien assassin, a superhuman warrior, a humanoid tree whose vocabulary is limited to “I am Groot”, to a trash-talking raccoon. Seeing it three times in theaters, I had an awesome time seeing these characters interact with one another while saving the galaxy and the planet Xandar from Ronan the Accuser. The movie had a lot of laughs, thrills, sharp character development, and visual wonder. So far, I think it’s my favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s already a contemporary classic.

Three years later, writer/director James Gunn returns with the same main cast to do the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. With Vol. 3 now in development, I’m actually looking forward to see more adventures of the Guardians rather than the Avengers. As far as sequels go, Vol. 2 is easily one of the better ones.

With a new kick-ass mixtape given to by his mother, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his team of Guardians—Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel); now reincarnated to a size of a tree bark, and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper)—travel through the galaxy, in search of something good and bad. They are assigned to protect the Sovereign, a gold-skinned alien race led by Heiress Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), and their precious batteries from various enemies. When Rocket is accused of stealing the batteries, their spacecraft crash lands on a deserted planet until being saved by a man known as Ego (Kurt Russell), who happens to be Peter’s father (no surprise there). He, along with Mantis (Pom Klementieff), brings them to his colorful planet while a lot of stuff happens.

If I go on about the plot, it would lead to many spoilers.

With the first movie, Gunn introduces the characters getting together to form as a family. Here—they are an assembled group of outlaws. He also brings forth the father-son dynamic into the MCU. While Pratt is the ideal choice to play Star-Lord, there would not have been a better choice for Kurt Russell to play his dad. Or, in this case, a celestial who falls in love with a human on Earth and eventually creates his own beautiful world. For years, Quill always wants to know his true heritage. With the characters we have come to know and love, we get to know more about them, particularly Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gilan) with scenes with Rocket and Yondu (Michael Rooker) bonding with each other. And also, Drax gives more of an emotional weight, who explains more about getting revenge on Thanos after witnessing the death of his family. He begins to ponder more about his simple past on his home planet. He may be tough on the outside, but he is also soft on the inside. Oh—and his laugh is just legendary!

Speaking of laughter, Vol. 2 is a nonstop laugh riot! One of the reasons why Vol. 1 is not just the splendid visuals and action set pieces, but the irreverent sense of humor. Vol. 2 is no exception. Drax, Rocket, and Groot steal the show here. As I described him before in my review for Vol. 1, Rocket is the Joe Pesci of the MCU. He has a filthy mouth (but not too filthy) and he is unpredictably crazy. “They told me you people were conceded douchebags,” he says to the Sovereign (who make pretty bland villains, despite Debicki’s massive stature–standing at a whopping 6’3″). “But that isn’t true at all.” The wink he gives to Quill cracks me up so much. Almost just as much as him making fun of Taserface (Chris Sullivan), which had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Vol. 2 cannot be complete without an awesome soundtrack—cleverly titled Awesome Mix Vol. 2. What the predecessor did with Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”, you know you are in for a treat if the movie opens up with ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky”. It’s nearly impossible not to grin while watching it. Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” serves as an appropriate theme for the Guardians. This line sums it up right here, “If you don’t love me now / You will never love me again / I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain.” Bring on, Vol. 3!

3.5/4

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2015 Summer Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up alongside Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander) in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of the 1960s TV show "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up alongside Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander) in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of the TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

This is the closest we’ll get to see Henry Cavill as James Bond.

After a handful of crappy movies coming out over the past few weeks, it’s nice to see something that is actually worth your time (even though The Gift was amazing). The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the television show from the 1960s, is one of those movies. Not to mention being a throwback to the 1960s spy flicks. Is it original? No; everyone is familiar with the story.

The Cold War is in full swing. A suave CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and a menacing KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to work together after a clever action sequence. As the two agents of U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), they embark on a mission to stop an organization, led by the deliciously evil Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby) from using nuclear weapons. The key to infiltrate the organization is Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina), the daughter of a deceased German scientist.

Guy Ritchie’s (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) sleek visual style overshadows the genuinely inconsistent tone. The fast-paced action, the chemistry between between Cavill and Hammer, and the witty dialogue are pure fun. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is matinee entertainment at its finest. It’s great to see Hugh Grant again.

3/4