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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2017 Summer Movie Preview: May

Is it that time already!? You betcha!

After a rough winter in Maine, I can sit back, relax, and start thinking about what has yet to come out over the course of four months. 2017 has been quite a slow year for movies so far. Nevertheless, there have been more surprises released this year than I can imagine—from M. Night Shyamalan returning to top form to Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the Wolverine. Now—with the summer movie season officially here, there are a lot of massive blockbusters and small-budget pieces that I am looking forward to seeing and possibly skipping. Without further ado, let’s jump right into my thoughts on what is coming out in the month of May.

May 5

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Source: IMP Awards

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Hell yeah! Time to see the guardians head back in action! Not only did I find the first film the best entry in the MCU, it’s also one of my favorite comic book movies. Seeing it three times in theaters, I love it with each viewing. With that being a surprise success among audiences and critics, it’s no surprise that director James Gunn is going to make a trilogy featuring these marvelous (no pun intended) and downright witty characters interact and kick some ass in the galaxy with Peter Quill’s awesome mixtapes. While Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is just as awesome as Awesome Mix Vol. 1, it bums me out that it doesn’t include David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” as Gunn intended. Oh well—maybe we will wait and see if he will put a David Bowie song on Awesome Mix Vol. 3 to pay tribute to his death. With that said, bring it on!

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Source: IMP Awards

The LoversA24 has come a long way since their first produced-film A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III—anyone of you remember that movie? No? Okay. Moving on.

After a long list of marvelous and often overlooked films (not to mention Moonlight being the first—and supposedly not the last—film by A24 to win Best Picture), they have produced some of the most bizarre, the most unique, and the most compelling films in recent memory. I believe The Lovers seems to be a charming romantic dramedy about an old couple considering a divorce until they decide to fall in love all over again.

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Source: IMP Awards

Three GenerationsAfter its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2015, the nationwide release of Three Generations (originally called About Ray) has been kept under wraps until right now. There have been a lot of movies in which cisgender actors play transgender characters (e.g. Academy Award-winner Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl). This movie—starring Elle Fanning (who has a long career ahead of her) as a girl making the decision of becoming a transgender boy with the support of her mother (Naomi Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon)—continues that trend, which will probably do so for a long time. But—come on! Transgender actors need to have the chance to play those characters! It seems like Three Generations tackles the subject in such a manipulative fashion. Very much so that it might end up being a massive flop.

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Source: IMP Awards

The DinnerRichard Gere has been a familiar face in Hollywood for a long time. After getting praise for his performance in NormanThe Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, he stars in another movie, directed by Oren Moverman (2009’s Oscar-nominated The Messenger), about a politician inviting people to a fancy restaurant where their polite conversation turns into something intense when they talk about two boys committing a crime. In my opinion, this looks rather standard. Even though I like movies that are mostly told through conversation.

May 12

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Source: IMP Awards

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – It must be every little boy’s dream to become King Arthur. Charlie Hunnam seems to be the perfect actor to play him in this reimagining of the classic tale. From Sons of Anarchy to Pacific Rim to Crimson Peak to The Lost City of Z, he has a pretty damn impressive resume. Working alongside Jude Law, Eric Bana, and director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, the underrated The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), this might be a pretty decent time in the theater.

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Source: IMP Awards

Snatched – Goldie Hawn is back after fifteen years to star as a mother going on vacation with her daughter (the raunchy Amy Schumer) after her boyfriend dumps her, which leads them getting kidnapped. Snatched almost sounds like your standard sitcom. With a talented filmmaker like Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) behind the camera and a decent screenwriter like Katie Dippold, however, it might be okay for a few good laughs. It might be the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

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Source: IMP Awards

Lowriders – I have a feeling this is a cross between 8 Mile and The Fast and the Furious. And not in a good way. It goes into the clichéd territory of an outsider being the best at his craft with the support of his friends and family. I’m skipping this one.

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Source: IMP Awards

The Wall – No—this movie is not about Donald Trump and his plans of building the wall on the Mexican border. This is a cat-and-mouse type of movie where two soldiers are trapped by an Iraqi sniper. Fresh from directing Edge of Tomorrow (also known as Live. Die. Repeat.), Doug Liman creates something with a much lower budget than his blockbusters. Known for playing Kick-Ass and Quicksilver, I find Aaron Taylor-Johnson to be a bland actor. But—it seems he might step his A-game here starring alongside John Cena. This looks like edge-of-your-seat fun.

May 19

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Source: IMP Awards

Alien: Covenant – Back in 2012, it was great to hear Ridley Scott has returned to the universe that made him such an all-star with Prometheus. After getting polarizing reception, Scott has made one gigantic flop (Exodus: Gods and Kings) and one gigantic success (The Martian) before returning for Alien: Covenant with an all-star cast, ranging from dramatic actors (Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup) to comedic actors (Danny McBride, James Franco). Alien is one of the best sci-fi films of all time, with the sequel Aliens (directed by James Cameron) being a slight improvement. This looks straight-up terrifying!

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Source: IMP Awards

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – Great…another one of these movies. And not starring the same cast from the three previous films; given they are getting a little old (which is understandable). I have never seen a trailer so bad in a long time. Moving on.

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Source: IMP Awards

Everything, Everything – *sigh* Another sappy love story? I’m good, thanks.

May 26

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Source: IMP Awards

Baywatch (opens Thursday)Okay, this is somewhat more like it. The reboot of the popular television show looks pretty hysterical. Dwayne Johnson proves he has the right amount of comedic timing while being a straight-up badass. He seems to have great chemistry between his co-stars Zac Efron (who is just as ripped as Dwayne Johnson), Alexandria Deddario (San Andreas), Kelly Rohrbach, among others. That’s what matters most in comedies is the chemistry between the actors and having good timing with the jokes. I’m there for something funny, sexy, and full of testosterone.

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Source: IMP Awards

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Another one of these movies? I have only seen the first film, which I loved, and On Stranger Tides, which I find underwhelming and forgettable. Johnny Depp returns in his pirate outfit and mannerisms as Captain Jack Sparrow seeking the Trident of Poseidon while encountering some new and familiar faces including Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley). I have a feeling this might go into the path of being as forgettable as the last film. I just don’t give a damn about a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

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Brad Pitt in War Machine. (Source: Business Insider)

War Machine – I can’t do a summer movie preview without talking about some movies that are going to be on Netflix. Brad Pitt is more than just having good looks. He also knows what he can do to be a great actor, from Ocean’s Eleven to Moneyball. Here, he seems to be bringing back his mannerisms of Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds and Wardaddy in Fury in this political war satire leading an amazing cast including Tilda Swinton, Topher Grace, Anthony Michael Hall, and Ben Kingsley. This is one film on Netflix I will definitely watch, no matter how good or bad it might be.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Alien: Covenant, Baywatch, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Lovers, The Wall

Least Anticipated: Everything, Everything, Lowriders, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Three Generations

I hope you enjoyed reading on what my thoughts are on several movies for the month of May. Tell me in the comments below on what your most anticipated movies are for the month of May. Stay tuned for a movie preview for the month of June on Memorial Day. Take care.