Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. II

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It’s been a long time since I reviewed a movie. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly…I’ve been busy and if I’m gonna write…I’d prefer to write about something important about my family or friends or something. Secondly…there haven’t been a lot of movies that I really care to write about. Thirdly…well…that’s really about it. I love movies and for me to take the time to write about them they better be WORTH the time…ya know?

Which brings me to THIS film. Going on record here…I, like a gazillion other moviegoers, LOVED the original GOTG. It was everything you want in a scifi, Marvel event movie. It had action. It had romance (kinda). It had humor. It was everything a popcorn movie should be and it was magnificent!

Cut to a couple years later and now you have the sequel. Look…we all know the rulebook says the second one should NEVER be as good as the first one…right? Well…except for “Aliens.” And “Terminator 2.” Oh…and “The Empire Strikes Back.” Well…THAT one is arguable. Aaaaanyway…I am so VERY happy to report that the sequel to GOTG isn’t just a return to the original. It expands and enhances. It’s hysterically funny in places. It’s action-packed! It has awesome new characters and it has storylines that blend well together, never leaving a character behind (which is difficult to do in a movie with 5 or 6 “main” characters). I left the theater feeling enthralled, exasperated, exhilerated and, above all the other “E” adjectives…entertained! This was EXACTLY what I needed to kick off this upcoming summer of blockbusters! Seriously…it was the most fun I’ve had at a movie since….well…the first one probably.

I’m not giving anything away here. It’s not what I do. But I will do this….here is a list of my favorite characters in THIS installment of the GOTG universe…

  1. Yondu (Michael Rooker) takes his character to a new level in this one. I won’t say why but just know…he’s back and better than the first.
  2. Baby Groot. Seriously…the opening sequence is worth the price of admission.
  3. Ego The Living Planet (Kurt Russell) is, without a doubt, the biggest surprise of this movie.
  4. Drax (Dave Bautista) steals the entire first half of this movie. He’s HYSTERICAL!
  5. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) & Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are the heart of this franchise and they don’t let us down here.
  6. Rocket. Seriously…you forget he’s a CGI character. He’s the Han Solo of this franchise and he makes every scene he’s in better.
  7. The 80’s references come fast & furious. Don’t blink! You might miss something!

Now…a few critical notes…

NONE.

This movie is awesome! Go see it in a theater. Make it as BIG a screen as you can. Get some popcorn, a soda, maybe some candy, whatever and prepare yourself for over 2 hours of entertainment. Also…a quick note…this movie may be the most colorful movie I have seen since “The Wizard Of Oz.” An entire spectrum of color is thrown at the screen at all times and it is FANTASTIC! Kudos to the art & CGI department at Marvel. It is magnificent to look at!

Overall Rating: A+. An awesome start to the summer! Way to go Marvel!!!

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Guardians Of The Galaxy vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

guardians-galaxy-movie-previewI have been, for the better part of 4 months, waiting to see “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” It appeared to be EVERYTHING I could want in a movie. It had action, suspense, the Marvel name, action heroes I’d never heard of before, a talking raccoon AND a WALKING TREE?!?! For crying out loud!!!! That sounded AWESOME!!! So…it was with great anticipation that I waited to see “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” For 4 months. After 1 month, I was pretty sure I could wait it out. “Captain America” was a rockin’ good time and I had “Godzilla” and a couple other flicks in between to quell my thirst for the summer blockbuster so…I waited patiently. And then “Godzilla” kinda sucked. And so did “Spiderman.” And “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” was kinda “Eh.” And then I found myself backtracking and watching movies like “Divergent” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2” to kill the time. So then July hit and “GOTG” was EVERYWHERE! It was an ONSLAUGHT of promotion. Even Vin Deisel, the guy VOICING the walking tree character that only says 3 words, was promoting the movie! It was an deluge of promotion and so….when I walked into the theater to FINALLY see this blockbuster that I had waited so long for, it is safe to say I had rather high expectations.

I am happy to report….my expectations were realized. Now…let’s not get too crazy here. “GOTG” is NOT “The Avengers.” That movie is the pinnacle of the Marvel world, in my opinion, and the next Avengers movie has a LOT to live up to. But this little flick, with it’s odd characters and unknown commodities, was the perfect summer movie and it quenched my thirst for something new wrapped up in a familiar package. Let’s be straight up here, shall we? I am a summer blockbuster nut. I LOVE big, bombastic, explosive, fun flicks that get my engine revved up and that make me want to jump around and get all happy and stuff. And this movie made me giddy! All of the 5 main characters are excellent. I loved Chris Pratt as “Star Lord,” an average guy who finds himself wrapped up and a crisis so extreme that he’s forced to become something he’s not. Zoe Saldana is good as the green-skinned beauty, Gamora. If there was one downside to this movie it’s that they set Gamora up as a vicious fighting machine, however we get to see very little of that side of her. Yes…she has her fight moments but I never really could see her as being the lethal warrior that they set her up to be. Dave Bautista is the super strong dude called Drax. He does a fine job and manages to get some laughs. The 2 animated characters are also a pivotal part of the movie with Rocket the Raccoon being the mechanic expert (he can build super cool stuff like MacGyver) and Groot being the loveable but deadly talking, walking tree that literally only says 3 words (and one has to wonder how much Vin got paid to do THAT gig). There are also appearances by Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly & Benicio Del Toro and they all fit the bill.

The plot? Well…it’s all Marvel. And if you know anything about the Marvel Universe right now, it’s all about Thanos. After making a brief appearance at the end of The Avengers, super bad guy Thanos has been all the rage on fan boy websites and comic book chats. Thanos is the destroyer of worlds and apparently he is on a collision course for Earth. The Marvel universe has been laid out in many parts, with Captain America 2 and GOFG being a part of the 2nd wave of films that, I assume, are leading up to “The Avengers 3” sometime in 2017 or 2018 where they will face off against Thanos. Everything that Marvel has done up to this point has been leading somewhere and GOFG continues that effort. Everyone in this movie is after an orb with mystical powers. When Star Lord finds it, it sets up a chain reaction of events that pulls the Guardians together and forces them to work as a team to defend the galaxy against Ronan The Accuser, a henchman for Thanos and a traitor who attempts to take the orb for his own use.

If you love action & adventure in the same vein as “Star Wars” or “Star Trek,” you will undoubtedly love “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” Comparing it to anything else this summer would be a disservice however, considering that a week later, a movie with 4 animated turtles that fight like ninjas and love pizza hit the theaters, I guess it’s what I’m gonna do.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-movieHere’s the deal…I had ZERO interest in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” when I saw the trailer. I had ZERO interest in EVER seeing it once I heard that Michael Bay was involved with it. And I certainly wasn’t gonna pony up money to see it in 3D. Buuuuuut…that’s exactly what I did when some of my colleagues voted to see it this week. So, begrudgingly, I went. And oddly enough…I had a good time!

What do I know about TMNT? Nothing. Unlike the hours spent scouring the internet and preparing for Guardians Of The Galaxy, I had no idea what TMNT was about. And THAT is probably why I enjoyed it. I went into this movie thinking it was totally gonna suck. And truthfully…there’s a lot of reason why I shouldn’t have liked it. Plot holes, bad dialogue, ridiculous characters, dumb situations. They’re all in this flick. But the funny thing is…unlike some movies that take themselves so seriously (see “Amazing Spiderman 2”), this movie never steps away from what it is…and action adventure for kids. Sure…it DOES have Megan Fox in it. And as a red-blooded American male, I admit that going into it, that might have been possibly the ONLY selling point it had going for it. However I was proven wrong time & time again as the Turtles moved briskly from one set piece to another, fighting their way to the finish line as they faced off against their nemesis, a ninja warrior named “Shredder.” The plot really is kinda simple and silly so it’s not worth mentioning (however there is a similar plot that was used in “The Amazing Spider-Man 1”) but I’m imagining you can kinda figure it out without putting much thought into what happens at the end.

Nevertheless…I found “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to be a really fun time and I actually LOVED the 3D in this film! The animators of the turtles did a fantastic job (they really do look real!) and I was really impressed with the way the animators and director of this movie blended the turtles into the movie. Overall, a decent effort from the Michael Bay camp. For once.

So in the battle of these 2 summer behemoths, I gotta give the edge to Guardians however…if you like your action a little more dumbed down and you happen to like 6 foot talkin’ turtles? Well…ya can’t go wrong there either.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” Overall Grade: A- (Don’t bother with 3D)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Overall Grade: B- (DEFINITELY see it in 3D)