Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Marvel are now deep into phase 3 of their cinematic universe, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the first of three being released this year. The other two are Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok, both of which look epic! A few years back, I declared the first Guardians of the Galaxy as my favourite Marvel film, and it still is (tied with Civil War). Vol. 2 wasn’t as slick as the first, but it sure was still a fun-filled ride packed with the same level of action, charm and comedy we’re used to from Star Lord and the gang.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his fellow Guardians are hired by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), high priestess of the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket (Bradley Cooper) has stolen some of the items they were meant to guard, the Sovereign search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.

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Guardians Vol. 2, for the most part, focused on Peter, his “unorthodox” heritage and his father, Ego (played by Kurt Russell). During these bonding times on Ego’s planet, although beautiful and colourful, the pacing was a little slow and the “plot” got a bit lost on me. It never gave me a chance to really engage or care about Ego and Peter’s relationship, but at least Ego’s planet was an incredible sight to behold. And, at least, the audience and Guardians with him were introduced to Mantis (the brilliant Pom Klementieff).

Left behind are Rocket and Groot (Vin Diesel), who team up with Yandu (Michael Rooker) and this is where the fun begins. As always, Rocket shines and was given some of the best lines from interpreting Baby Groot (who was the most adorable yet hilarious thing). Casual and everyday dialogue between characters is Guardians’ strongest feature and I’m glad they’ve kept this formula for the sequel.

Marvel take care of their characters well, taking the appropriate time to develop important ones. This time, the misunderstood daughter-of-Thanos got a turn and we saw Nebula (Karen Gillan) come into her own. Something that excited me, also, was gaining an insight into Yandu and the Ravagers. Yandu is a fascinating character, with the oddest ability, and his scenes were truly quite touching. My only gripe with Guardians 2 was that Sylvester Stallone as Starhawk could’ve been in it more, but, an after credit scene hints this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.

Speaking of after credit scenes, you need to wait out for five. Yep, five! A couple may seem redundant, but all hint to near and distant future plans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of which confirms Marvel fans suspicions surrounding hero Adam Warlock…

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As always, the music was spot on (‘The Chain’ is one my favourite songs and I’m currently listening to ‘Wham Bam’ as I’m writing this). Introducing older 20th Century music into a modern film that brings in a young audience is something I always champion.

Wacky, weird and wonderful, the Guardians of the Galaxy still remain my favourite heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, they are made up of talking trees and enhanced raccoons etc, but as the “odd ones out” in the whole galaxy, they are the closest I’ll come to being able to relate to a superhero.

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Interview with Niall Johnson, Emilia Fox and Singe Greene – Mum’s List (2016)

On 24th November I was lucky enough to be invited to the press junket of Mum’s List. Recently released in cinemas across the UK, Mum’s List is a British movie shot on location in Clevedon. Based on a true story, the film is about the Greene family who’s lives are altered when Kate is diagnosed with cancer. She prepares her family by leaving notes and messages, a sort of “To Do” list for after she’s gone.

I had the absolute pleasure to meet and interview director Niall Johnson, leading actress Emilia Fox, who plays Kate Greene, and author of the book, and Kate’s husband, St John (Singe) Greene.

All three were a joy to talk to and gave real insight into the movie and the filmmaking process. Niall spoke on how the story came to be a movie such as this and his background with the Greene family. Emilia told me of the huge responsibility yet honour it was to play Kate Greene, (and how the West Country accent is a tricky one to master!) And for young people, like myself, trying to break into the film industry, they both give some advice!

Afterwards, I met with Singe and he told me more about his family, the boys Reef and Finn, and how the filmmaking experience affected them.

Even after the interview with Singe was over, I mentioned that he knew my dad from back home. We had a quick chat about him and then he told me to give him a big hug and tell him I love him “acres and acres.” Even through all the press days and premieres, Singe continues to spread Kate’s inspirational, positive message and his families’ story.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have met all three. And we could all strive to be more like Kate.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker launches an evil agenda of his own.

Firstly, I’ll say outright that I was not impressed by this film in the slightest, so I’ll keep it short. So prior warning: this is a bad review, but I don’t enjoy writing them.

Firstly, for those who didn’t like Batman v Superman and then think this movie was decent, please explain. Because, in comparison, when I place this film on a pedestal and put it into perspective, Suicide Squad is a regressive “superhero” movie in terms of it’s inconsistent technical filmmaking, stunted storytelling, cliched dialogue, undeveloped characters and feminism.

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The objectification of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and her bottom half gained more screen-time than some of the other Suicide Squad characters combined. This is not OK and the Male Gaze at it’s worst.

Suicide Squad is a poor case of too many underdeveloped characters confusing the plot e.g. Killer Croc, Boomerang, Diablo, and that those who are left aren’t evil enough to consider themselves supervillains (especially Will Smith’s Deadshot who one minute is looking for redemption and forgiveness from his daughter, the next is not?) Jared Leto’s Joker laugh was spot on to how I imagined it from comics such as The Killing Joke, however, I’m still a bit bewildered about the emotionally and physically abusive lovelorn villain he’s portraying at this point.

DC need to decide where they identify because this was just a complete mess. Apparently there were a number of rewrites to try and make Suicide Squad funnier, and clearly the constant pop music changes are overcompensating for how unfunny it actually turned out to be- it is not in the same league as Guardians of the Galaxy.

Forget about a Harley Quinn movie, give Katana a few more lines!

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