Tag Archives: Vin Diesel

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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Fast and Furious 8

Fast and Furious 8

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

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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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Riddick

After The Chronicles of Riddick I wasn’t sure if we would be seeing Riddick on the big screen again, but you’ve got¬†to admire Vin Diesel’s love of the character. Apparently he went back to the Fast and Furious franchise just so he could make another Riddick film. But do we have another Pitch Black on our hands or a dud like The Chronicles of Riddick?

Following on from the events of Chronicles, Riddick has been betrayed by the Necromancers and left for dead on a desolate planet. First Riddick has to survive in his new environment and then evade capture from two teams of mercenaries, one team that want his head (literally) and another that has a more personal reason to track him down. However the mercenaries soon realise they have more than Riddick to worry about.

Ok so Riddick is no Pitch Black, which is a modern classic sci-fi action thriller, however it is closer in spirit to Pitch Black then The Chronicles of Riddick. The film strips back the fantasy/prophecy elements that dragged down the second movie and concentrates back on the more thriller aspects of the first film.

After making Riddick almost invincible in the second film, Riddick wisely allows our (anti)hero to be vulnerable, while still being the badass we all know. The first part of the film shows Riddick recovering psychically from his betrayal and spiritually going back to his ‘animal’ self from the first film.

Riddick is not as subversive as Pitch Black (I still remember how shocking it was that the ‘villain’ lived over some of the characters who traditionally survive this kind of film), its plot is more standard, and some may argue that it’s too similar to Pitch Black in places. The mercenaries are played by a mixed bunch, the best being Katee Sackhoff and Matthew Nobles as part of the more professional team of mercs. The other group is more stereotypical ‘baddies’, although they have one token good teammate (although why he would be on the same ship as these horrible, immoral mercs is a mystery). But although there aren’t too many subversions the actions sequences are held well and there are some superbly gory deaths which should please those who felt short-changed by the action in Chronicles.

All in all its a return to form and fun to watch, which after the mis-step of the previous film is a welcome surprise.

Rating- 3.5/5-Riddick is back to what he does best, so in future no more necromancers please!

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