Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-wallpaper

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is the 15th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the third film in the third phase of the same.  The first installment of Guardians takes the viewers on a journey far beyond earth and sets the larger stage for what is to come in the MCU.  Before the first film debuted there was much doubt to the success of the movie due to its use of lesser known characters in the MCU.  However, the hilarious use of witty banter among the protagonists and the well-executed trope of the “ragtag group of misfits” somehow thrown into extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary expectations played well for audiences worldwide.  The first Guardians film set the bar high for future installments and created much anticipation for the second film.

A few words about Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2:

  1. Tries too hard to be funny at times – Right out of the gate Guardians 2 seemed intent on doubling down on the humor that endears itself to the audience in the first installment.  However in this installment, while funny on its own, there was a noticeable shift in a number of jokes per scene.  While the first installment felt very natural with jokes flowing at the pace of the film, Guardians 2 seemed at times to stop the action or story to tell jokes that at many times felt as if they went on a bit too long.
  2. Lots of character development – In this movie each of the Guardians gets a deeper look into why they are the person (or tree, or raccoon, or other species) that they are.  For the most part, this was done pretty well with explaining the motivations behind each of the characters.  However, this made the movie;
  3. Extremely emotional – There were times in this film where it felt as if the audience was being forced into an emotional cheese grater.  There were several instances in which again the film felt like it stopped to make a very specific emotional point about one of the characters.  This was at the very least a bit heavy handed and at most emotionally manipulative.
  4. Fun and engaging action – The action sequences were very well executed.  Specifically, there is one involving Rocket that was very entertaining to watch and another involving Yondu (Michael Rooker with a functional mohawk) that was mesmerizing as well.  The larger action set pieces were also done very well, watching this film in 3D was very rewarding as the editing made full use of the medium.  (this coming from a critic who despises 3D and feels its use is mostly gimmicky)
  5. Felt very disconnected from the MCU – There is a total of five end credit and mid-credits scenes and only two of them did any work to tie this film to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Other than those scenes this film felt almost entirely self-contained and outside of the MCU.  There are still about four films between this one and Avengers:  Infinity War and while we know who the main villain of that film will be (Thanos) it still remains to be seen how the Guardians will mesh with the heroes of the other films.  This didn’t hurt the film itself however it did make this seem a little more like a lot of side plot rather than an important part of the main story.  (also there is a point in the film where the main villain is destroying earth and it seemed at the bare minimum a little odd that there would be no Avengers interested in helping to stop this)
  6. Terrible main plot reveal – When the main villain reveals their ultimate plot to destroy much of the galaxy it is done in kind of a crass way.  Revealing any more than that would be a spoiler but suffice it to say it felt at the very least a bit “Maury” -esque.  (I welcome anyone who wants to unpack this further to contact me on twitter or fb)

Overall the film was not bad.  I would say another solid entry in the MCU (whilst not necessary being a strongly connected unit of the MCU) with great action sequences and still remained funny (at times to a fault)  The audience loved Baby Groot (albeit it seemed there was more of him than was needed) and there is much visually to enjoy while watching this film.  You can bring your kids, but it is a bit long as I sat next to a kid who got very antsy during the second hour.  3 of 5 stars.

 

Ronald’s Oscar Best Picture Omnibus (name stolen from PCHH)

I did not steal the word omnibus, just the use of Oscar omnibussing from Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast that all of you need to listen to.

So i spent the last two Saturdays watching all of the Best Picture nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards.  AMC does what is called the Best Picture Showcase in which people are able to watch all of the best pictures in two sittings.  This was my first year doing both days, however it’s my second year participating in any form with my good friends Jeremiah and Cinthya Zabal.  I had a blast doing what is my favorite activity (watching movies in the theater) and i look forward to many more years of enjoying marathons of movies in the theater.

Now onto the films themselves.

Sometimes during my viewing of “The Imitation Game” I decided that there were too many biopics in contention this year.  Four of the eight nominees were biopics, with two of the remaining four non biopics essentially being fictional biopics (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood)  So that being said I have decided to rate the biopics against each other, then the non biopics against each then state which film I think should win and which film I think will actually win.

The Biopics

I will go in order of least enjoyed to most enjoyed again in my own humble opinion.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game

Unfortunately this movie was the third in a line of pretty slow movies. (First Boyhood, then The Theory of Everything, then The Imitation Game) Now that I am recalling it, I believe this movie was pretty forgettable. The story seemed to get lost in the telling, and it seemed less interesting in the dramatic way it was presented. It was not a bad movie, however stacking it up against the best of the year it faded dramatically by comparison. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 2.5 out of 5 stars)

Selma

Selma
Selma

This was a very important movie that showed the methods of civil disobedience and protesting in the 1960s civil rights movement that sparked the Voter Rights Act of 1964. This movie resonated deeply with me as I was a part of the black lives matter protests after the Eric Garner non-indictment and am a vocal supporter of the black lives matter movement. Please see my Selma review for more. That being said this movie is not as good as the others in terms of best picture nominees. The performances did not blow me away and the movie did not stand out as unique versus others that regard the same subject matter. (In a traditional review i would give this probably 3.5 out of 5 stars)

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything

This Stephen Hawking biopic left me with one thought as it ended. “If Stephen Hawking could have a side chick, then women truly have no hope.” That being said, the movie was good. It did both a good job of showing how painful it was for a brilliant man to be trapped in a feeble helpless body and an even better job of showing the mental deterioration of the strong woman who chose to be by his despite his condition. I believe both actors (Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones) received the appropriate recognition for their work in their respective categories. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 3.75 out of 5 stars)

American Sniper

American Sniper
American Sniper

While I do not feel like i necessary learned any more about Chris Kyle, anyone who says this movie was not pretty darn good has already gone in biased. The best parts of this movie are when it slows down enough to show the viewer how exactly PTSD affects the soldiers coming home from war. Of course the thrilling firefights and fast paced action was also a plus, however this movie was just done well in all aspects. Much applause to Bradley Cooper’s performance as Chris Kyle which was a both a physical transformation and a great separation from previous roles. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 4 out of 5 stars)

The Non Biopics

(in order of least to greatest)

Birdman

Birdman
Birdman

This movie was trying so hard to be great that it fooled many people into thinking that it was. The tracking shot was distracting, and the narrative was filled with holes. I could not just sit back and enjoy the film because I was not sure if what I was seeing was supposed to be one man’s twisted fantasy or reality. Maybe that was the point. I don’t know, again I would say this movie was just trying too hard. However I still give Michael Keaton a great big kudos for his performance which was pretty darn good. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 2 out of five stars)

Boyhood

Boyhood
Boyhood

The gimmick of this movie was using the same actors over a course of twelve years to tell a story in basically what amounted to be real time. I say gimmick because I believe that is what has sold this movie as great to many people who have seen it. I truly enjoyed the movie because I think Richard Linklater did a great job of directing performances from year to year, the narrative stayed consistent and I felt invested in all the characters. I would not be disappointed to see him win Best Direction. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 3.90 out of five stars)

Whiplash

Whiplash
Whiplash

This is the movie that all of you should see. It is exciting, compelling and enjoyable to watch. It was the only movie out of all eight, in which the theater immediately burst into enthusiastic applause after it ended. JK Simmons was amazing, and deserves the Oscar for Best Supporting actor (and best lead actor in my humble opinion) however Miles Teller also did a great job and it is unfortunate that he missed out on a very crowded lead actor field. I will buy this movie when it comes out on blu ray. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 4 out of 5 stars)

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel

This movie was a movie’s movie. This heart warming and beautifully directed and shot film was just so easy to watch, understand and appreciate. It had an interesting and funny story line, characters that drew you in and as a whole reminded me of why I enjoy just watching a good movie. It was satisfying and I will also buy this movie when it comes out on blu ray. (In a traditional review I would give this probably 5 out of 5 stars)

Ranking of all the movies together (lowest to highest)
Birdman
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Boyhood
American Sniper
Whiplash
The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I think should win
The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I wouldn’t mind winning
American Sniper

What will Probably Win
Freakin’ Birdman…..