Its predecessor was an action packed, laugh a minute, wonderful surprise that threw Marvel universe into space. Of course a sequel was inevitable and hopes are high with director James Gunn returning to oversee the madness. But can lightening strike twice?
Set two months after the events of the last movie, we catch up with the Guardians who have managed to upset the Sovereign race due to Rocket’s thieving impulses. Their escape eventually leads them to an unexpected reunion between Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his father, a living planet called Ego (Kurt Russell). However it’s not long before the Guardians find themselves in trouble again and have to fight to keep the gang together.
It was always going to be an uphill battle to match the same rebellious, unexpected spirit that Guardians of the Galaxy gave us. While Volume 2 doesn’t quite hit those highs dues to the lack of element of surprised it’s still a rollercoaster of fun and laughter. Humour was a strong part of the first movie’s success and Volume 2 delivers on many funny one liners and great sight gags.
The Guardians themselves are still a loveable ragtag group of misfits with Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) often being a scene stealer. We also gets more development on the sisterly rivalry between Gimora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) which more often than not spills into violence. New characters Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is also introduced and fits in seamlessly with the other Guardians and has a funny odd couple friendship with the blunt and tactless Drax (Dave Bautisa).
The film’s excitable energy does starts to waver towards its last act and while Michael Rooker is great as returning character Yondu (“I’m Mary Poppins”– it makes sense in context), I didn’t quite buy his redemptive arch or the film trying to make out he was a good guy all along. Didn’t he still beat Peter as a kid? However these quibbles aside Volume 2 shows that there’s still life in these loveable rogues yet and there encounter with the more professional Avengers in next years Infinity Wars movie should make for an entertaining encounter.
(As an aside note this film rivals the last Fast and Furious Movie with the amount of time the word ‘family’ is mentioned. Does Vin Diesel have some kind of contract where the word must always be referenced?)
Rating 4/5 – a less surprising but still a riveting ride with Marvel’s funniest heroes
I was actually quite hopeful about the latest Alien prequel as I heard reports that it was better than 2012’s Prometheus. However I forgot how low a bar that was. So while Covenant is indeed better than it’s predecessor it’s nowhere near as satisfying as it should be.
It starts promising with the Colony ship Covenant damaged during it’s voyage and it’s crew making the unwise decision to investigate a radio transmission from a nearby planet. The characters are thinly drawn but it goes along OK and there are some gory scenes when the aliens do make some appearances. However once David (Michael Fassbender) appears sprouting the creation/creator philosophy nonsense that was so prevalent in Prometheus the film goes downhill. Instead of intense action/horror scenes we have Michael Fassbender playing opposite himself as the two identical androids (the Covenant ship’s android Walter and the android from Prometheus David) which devolves into some weird Michael Fassbender fan fiction. Add in some really stupid decisions by certain characters and a final twist that the audience would have spotted a mile off and you get a lacklustre result. The GCI effects of the Xenomorph and some of the other creatures are also disappointing.
Rating 2.5/5 – a solid start descends into a less than stellar result
Set in Britain during the Second World War, Their Finest centres on a young woman named Catrin (Gemma Arterton) who is hired to write morale boosting films for the Ministry of Information.
It’s hard to define this film into one category, it’s a behind the scenes drama with some comedic elements and insights into the way women’s roles were changing during this period. Small moments of sexism are all in a normal working day for Catrin as she hired to write ‘slop’ (women’s dialogue). Rather than this being an ‘issue’ film these elements are woven naturally into the story and it’s a fascinating insight into the work behind these propaganda and moral boosting films. I can imagine there are scenes that scriptwriters are all too familiar with such as producers making changes to the script or finding out their American lead (Jake Lacey) can’t act. These scenes are much more engaging than the sub plot with Catrin’s artist husband (Jack Houston) which feels a bit by the numbers.
Director Lone Scherfig brings the 40’s to life without hitting us over the heads with it, and captures the confusion and panic of living through the Blitz whilst its characters have to get on with everyday matters like finding work. She also brings out the best from her cast. Arterton is a sympathetic and likeable lead who can easily go between comedy and drama and has good chemistry with Sam Clafin as her co-writer Tom Buckley, who is sometimes infuriated and also infatuated with Catrin. As always Bill Nighy is great as an actor who still wants to be cast as the handsome lead despite his age. He steals scenes with his comedic one liners but is also poignant in some of the more sombre scenes.
Rating 4/5 – a great British drama that’s a welcome relief for anyone who wants a break from the blockbusters
Otherwise known as The Fate of the Furious in the States, the eighth (!) installment in the franchise has already passed the one billion mark at the box office. This time around Dom (Vin Diesel) has seemingly turned his back on family (get used to this word being used a lot) and joined up with the evil Cipher (Charlize Theron). Can the team foil Cipher’s evil plot and bring Dom back into the fold?
Ah The Fast and The Furious movies, where logic and science goes to die. But the series is obviously doing something right with audiences scrambling to see the adventures of Dom and co. I admit the Fast and Furious movies starting from Fast Five have become something of a guilty pleasure of mine and this latest offering works best when it plays to the series strengths. One of it’s biggest strengths is Dwayne Johnson who brings charisma and entertainment as law man Luke Hobbs, Johnson looks like he doesn’t take any of the film too seriously and is having fun with the ridiculousness of it all. Trading insults with Jason Statham’s Deckard- the last film’s villain now possible good guy?-is one of the more enjoyable parts of the films. When the series has fun and goes from one insane set up to another it’s easy to get swept up in it all.
However the film gets bogged down with too much focus on Dom and Cipher- the least interesting part of the movie. Poor Theron does her best but Cipher and her monologues are a bore. The film suffers whenever it tries to play it seriously and an overlong climax also starts to wear any audience good will. Suspension of belief is already needed to get your head around the gang’s zany schemes but around the time Hobbs grabs a tornado with his hands you start wondering if the filmmakers ever reject an idea for being too ridiculous. Or maybe in the F&F world every idea is a good idea. Also the fact that Deckard murdered Han in the previous movie seems to be forgotten about. Justice for Han!
Not as deliciously bonkers as the 5th and 6th installments and lacks the emotional edge of the 7th. While the 8th will probably go down as the most profitable I doubt it will be the most popular one.
Rating 3/5 – Dom’s ‘family’ have still got it but the series will need to shape up for future installments