Tag Archives: Karen Gillan

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

GotG_Vol2_poster

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

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Guardians of the Galaxy

So we’ve had Iron Man, Thor and co in their solo films and together in the mighty Avengers movie, now Marvel brings out the newcomers. But as one of their lesser-known properties can Marvel work their magic on this band of heroes.

Abducted from Earth as boy Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), otherwise known as Star-Lord was brought up among thieves. As an adult he finds himself in trouble when he steals a sphere shaped artifact with unknown powers, which everyone seems to want. He soon crosses the path of an array of aliens including Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a remorseful assassin, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) whose looking for revenge, Groot (Vin Diesel) a tree-like humanoid who can only say “I am Groot”, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically engineered talking raccoon. These strangers soon have to work together when an enemy bigger then themselves start looking for the artifact, hoping to use it to cause as much death and destruction as possible.

The basic plot may not be original-a ragtag bunch of misfits must overcome their differences to work together against a common enemy. It could basically be the Avengers-in space! But what marks out Guardians of the Galaxy is the sense of pure fun and weirdness that ensures that this superhero movie is anything but a bog standard adventure.

James Gunn was considered quite the risk as a director having directed mostly indie films such as the body-alien horror Slither. But just like Joss Whedon before him Marvel have proven that the risk has payed off. Gunn clearly enjoys the sense of anarchy and wackiness that is embodied in this film. When your main characters include a talking raccoon you must have a director that has the balls to run with the weirdness and make it into something that is funny, exciting and at times quite touching without diluting all the oddness that comes with it.

It helps that our guardians are all equally as engaging as each other. There is no weak link here and everyone has a chance to shine. Chris Pratt has had quite the year being the lead in the mega hit The Lego Movie (another film that was a lot better than everyone expected it to be), and as Peter he’s the everyman that the audience can identify with. He’s not a squeaky clean goodie-goodie and is all the better for it. Peter is funny, likeable and probably gone a bit mad having listen to the same music (Awesome Mixtape 1) for the past 26 years. Saldana gets a lot of excellent fight scenes as the remorseful Gamora and has good chemistry with Pratt. Burista is surprisingly funny and has a sad back story that drives his anger. Vin Diesel as Groot is sweet and conveys a lot for someone whose character has a limited vocabulary. Rocket will probably be a lot of people’s favourite character and Cooper manages to make this talking raccoon as twisted and hilarious as you imagine he would be but also more than just a one joke character that could have been very annoying.

As for the villains we get Lee Pace as the main baddie, the psychotic Ronan The Accuser, and former Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillian as Nebula his right hand woman. Between them they don’t make things easy for the Guardians and get lots of good fight scenes and plenty of boo-hiss moments to get you rooting for their comeuppance. Also one of my favourite bits of the movie is Ronan’s reaction to Peter’s interesting attempts at distraction. How Pace did not crack up during filming I don’t know.

It’s a movie which on paper probably looks mad, and it is but that doesn’t make Guardians any less enjoyable. In fact it’s to be commended for being a bit different to its other Marvel siblings. Plus any film that mentions the awesomeness of Footloose and Kevin Bacon has my vote.

Rating 4/5 – give the crazy lesser known heroes a try and I guarantee you’ll be hooked, and if nothing else it’s the best movie featuring a talking raccoon this year!

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Oculus

Scaring people is difficult to do in this jaded, genre savvy world today. Can psychological horror Oculus put the shiver’s up an audience’s spines?

Having been residing in a psychiatric hospital since he was 10 years old Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is finally released. But his hope to put the past behind him is shattered by his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan –Doctor Who‘s Amy Pond in a slightly distracting American accent), who wants to hold her brother to a promise he made 11 years ago. To destroy the mirror they believed as kids ruined the lives of their family.

The film has an effective narrative, constantly going between the modern-day events of Tim and Kaylie with flashbacks to the younger Tim and Kaylie (Garrett Ryan and Annalise Basso). The transitions between the past and the present were smoothly done. Both plotlines are engaging and are filled with tension. Although there is some blood (with a particular effective incident with a lightbulb) the film is more about the psychological scares, and just like the protagonists you will find your mind being messed with.

There is some great acting to be found in this film with Ryan and Basso especially strong and sympathetic as the younger Tim and Kaylie trying to work out what is happening to their family. You just want to tell their older selves to cut their losses and run away! The parents are also well-developed. Rory Cochrane plays the afflicted dad well and it’s good to see Katee Sackhoff as the mother play a different role from her usual Tough Girl routine and show range by playing someone more vulnerable.

Although it’s a good film with a strong premise the film fails to elevate itself into greatness. It’s creepy and atmospheric rather than all out scary. Some aspects of the film are also  a bit predictable. While the characters try to set up precautions to stop themselves falling foul of the mirror’s powers, you do feel that they should have known better considering their previous experiences and just stay well away, although at least they have strong reasons to attempt what they do. There’s also something set up at the beginning which is so obviously going to go wrong that you feel there should be sign saying YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE PUT THAT THERE!

I perhaps had higher hopes considering I heard such positive things about it. An effective horror but it won’t leave you nervously looking at that large mirror in your house.

Rating 3/5 – better at building tension then in its final execution but strong acting makes it an effective chiller

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