Category: Superheroes

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Review

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Review

What a spectacular film – you know it’s going to be good when the opening credits are making you laugh and cry with joy, but I’ll not spoil the reason why. I find it’s always a very difficult thing to pull off a sequel that matches the quality of the original film, but Volume 2 is an exception if ever I have seen one. It’s easily good enough to warrant seeing in cinemas, and Marvel does a wonderful job of keeping things fresh.

Volume 2 has a very different storyline in comparison to the first Guardians film, even ignoring the difference because the second is not a origin story. Volume 2 feels, in a way, much more contained with the action and dialogue to one place than the first film ever did. Ultimately, it’s still a film about ‘saving the Galaxy’, as Rocket is happy to remind us, but it is not in a way that you would expect when the film begins.

One thing that did remain similar through Volume 2 was the music; the same way it played such an important role in the first film, the music was still as important and the song choices do not disappoint. In fact, I think the music in this film is potentially even more important; it is directly spoken about and though I knew less of the songs this time around, the choices were still exactly what were necessary for the situation and what was happening on screen. I will definitely be buying the second album.

The plot was varied and sometimes had odd timings for the way things played out, including the choices made to cut scenes and move to action that was happening elsewhere. A couple of times I was put off by them; questions would be asked which would be left unanswered by a cut to another scene – the exposition for the asked question would come later, but would happen in a completely different setting and lose the continuity. Saying that, there were strong performances from all cast members and I enjoyed the character development for them all, especially being able to learn more about Drax and his past, Yondu and Nebula. Baby Groot though – oh, Baby Groot! The adorable little wood-creature makes this film what it is, and I cried several times because of the adorable tiny tree.

I was interested to see if Volume 2 could continue to be as comic as the first film – and for the most part, it succeeded. I laughed out loud at points, but it also occasionally fell short of the mark. This film was more serious than the first at points and I think they didn’t always manage to find the right balance between the more sombre moments and the comic relief. Overall, though, Volume 2 manages to capture the same light hearted spirit that I love about the Guardians of the Galaxy, without selling out on any of the action or serious character development.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 is a heartfelt, wonderful film. Hilarious at points, I think I must have worked my way through seven different emotions whilst watching it. It’s entertaining, has great editing and writing as well as amazing back drops – but more than that, it does what any decent sequel should do for a film: it builds. Volume 2 builds and develops all the great things we loved about Guardians of the Galaxy, showing off the character’s different roles and personalities, and makes us hungry for more. Verdict: 9/10

Power Rangers: Review

Power Rangers: Review

As someone who had never really watched the Power Rangers as a child, and when it was a television program, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this film. I’m also not really sure what I got from it. Power Rangers at its most basic was an enjoyable film, but unfortunately it fell into too many of the childish / coming-of-age tropes and I found it utterly predictable. Also, it seemed to me that the writers never really found the balance of what the film was supposed to be – for the younger viewer, or not?

For instance, from the get-go there is some very adult humour (think along the lines of touching an animal inappropriately) which wasn’t even really very funny. This, plus the intense camera angles that I assume were trying to be ‘edgy’ set the movie as something that was trying to be fairly grown-up, and appeal to adults as well as children. However, as the film progressed, this element fell away and it seemed to revert to what I assume was it’s origins: an action adventure set for children, and paying homage to the original show.

The characters were good, as was the writing at some points – I admit, there were some moments that made me laugh out loud – but it also tripped up and fell flat a number of times. I found that the film focused too much on the Red Ranger, Jason, who was supposed to be the Power Ranger’s ‘leader’; it meant that some of the other main five’s back stories occasionally felt forced and shoved into uncomfortable exposition. We didn’t see as much of them as I would have liked, given that the hints and tidbits that were dropped did seem quite interesting.

The action sequences were average, if a little over the top (but I imagine that’s original Power Rangers style), and the final battle let me down. It wasn’t particularly difficult and didn’t last long in comparison to the build up and ‘personal growth’ the characters had to do to reach the stage where they could fight together. Saying that, I enjoyed the Zords and I’m sure any kids in the theatre would have loved it. I think what Power Rangers really needed, through out the film, was for the writers to decide what the film was supposed to be and stay there – but because it jumped and moved from action, thriller, child-friendly, adult humour and so on, the whole thing felt a little bit jarred.

Overall, Power Rangers was not a bad film, but it’s probably best viewed on DVD. Saying that, I will still watch a sequel if they make one, because I’m a sucker for action films and I do find it refreshing to have something to watch that is outside of the Marvel & DC universes. Verdict: 5/10.

Logan: Review

Logan: Review

(disclaimer: the poster with this review is ©Marvel Entertainment and does not belong to me)

Well, this one certainly wasn’t what I was expecting – and for that, I’m very pleased. Logan is in some ways a remarkably different film from what we have seen of other X-Men films as well as the Wolverine’s other spin-off movies. In a way, Logan has it’s own mark, and should stand alone as a cinematic experience of its own without any ties to the films that have come before it.

One of the reasons for this is because throughout the film, Logan gives allusions to past events in the X-Men universe that we as audience members (and X-Men fans who have seen all the other films, like myself) have not seen or even heard of before. Another big reason, I found, was because of all the swearing. Never before have we heard our favourite animalistic rage-machine swear at the top of his lungs, but Logan was swimming with cusses. Part of me believes this is down to the success of Deadpool, showing Marvel that adults love those comic books too, and films can be made for them instead of staying so ‘child friendly’. The language seemed a little over the top at the beginning of the film (it smacks you in the face as one of the first lines) but I reckon this was because the writers just got excited. As the movie goes on and you begin to settle into it, the swearing becomes a natural part of the plot and separates Logan from the rest of the child-friendly, Wolverine franchise. Which, in a way, is no bad thing.

The writing and storyline are good, if a little cliche in parts when dealing with the ‘creation’ of mutants (haven’t we seen this before?) but overall the film was a great cinematic experience, darker, dirtier and more bloody – but it showed the much more personal, human side to Logan and Professor X that we haven’t necessarily seen before. Given Logan’s ending, I’m not sure what any of this means for the X-Men universe as we know it, and as I have grown up with it.

In a way, with the film standing so gracefully on it’s own, I figure it’s best to leave it at that. However, through out the film there were also a few homages to Wolverine’s other spin offs; for instance, the samurai sword that hangs in Logan’s room, hinting at his trip to Japan. This was only one of several “easter eggs” through out the film as well – we also get to see Wolverine comic books, a Wolverine action figure, and a fair bit of muttered back story.

Logan was, and it did come as a surprise, a very heartfelt and human film at it’s core; it still maintained the action and ferocity we expect from Wolverine as a character, and thought I knew it was his final stint, I will miss Hugh Jackman in the role. I wonder if now, after so many years and films, the character will be left alone for the future X-Men films. All we can do is wait and see, but I personally hope so.

Though it made it clear that this was Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine film, it was still sad to see him go. Logan was a touching, vibrant, well written film with the right balance of humour, tenderness, aggression and quick, sharp wit. What a send off to have been given. Verdict: 9/10.

Doctor Strange: Review

Doctor Strange: Review

(disclaimer: the poster that is used with this review is ©Marvel Studios and does not belong to me)

I am a big fan of the Cinematic Marvel Universe – I don’t pretend to know as much as other people, having never read Marvel Comics, but I still feel like I know my fair share about what’s going on in the Universe they’re creating for the screen. So I had pretty high hopes for the latest Marvel film, but Doctor Strange was one superhero I hadn’t heard much about before going into the cinema. All I knew was that Benedict Cumberbatch had been roped into playing the title character – and he did not disappoint (even if it did take a while for me to get over his American accent).

For another origin story (as Marvel bring all their strings together for the showdown of the century in Avengers: Infinity War, so the rumours go), Doctor Strange provided an interesting character and a good story line. Doctor Stephen Strange, played by the great Benedict Cumberbatch, is the second out-right selfish character we’ve followed in the Marvel stories after Tony Stark (Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr). Saying that, I was happy to see that in comparison to Iron Man, Stephen Strange seems to learn much more quickly how to get over this selfishness. After all, much of his self-interest and aggression stems from the loss of his hands in the first ten minutes of the film; to Stephen Strange, the celebrated neurosurgeon, the loss of his hands shouts a loss of identity and makes him question all of his self-worth.

Doctor Strange follows Stephen as, after he alienates himself from everyone who cares about him and loses his livelihood, he sets out to find a way to fix himself. But somehow on his journey to find and fix himself, Stephen Strange ends up becoming what is – in essence – a magician. After that, it’s as simple as saving the world from a giant, inter-dimensional enemy. Though it seems a similar plot to a lot of other superhero origin stories, I was pleasantly surprised by Doctor Strange‘s ending; it was an interesting, unique final battle, and unlike anything we have seen before.

More than that, there were some parts of Doctor Strange that were visually stunning – look out for some inter-dimensional travel and what the characters call the ‘mirror dimension’. Though impressive CGI, it can sometimes feel like you are looking through a kaleidoscope, and didn’t do much except confuse me for a couple of minutes; but I get the impression that that was the point, as the characters struggle with their quickly-changing surroundings. On the other hand, the fight scenes were wicked, including one that takes place between two astral-form characters. Also, watch out for the appearance of Doctor Strange’s cape, I honestly laughed out loud.

Unfortunately, the cape was one of the only things in Doctor Strange that made me laugh; most of the attempts at humour fell flat, and some of them seemed forced when otherwise the film was quite a serious piece, focusing on Stephen Strange’s struggle to make peace with his disability. Of course there were moments of humour that worked, and a few witty lines that reminded the audience that we were still in the 21st Century (given that you’d probably otherwise forget); but for the most part it was a more sombre origin story than others Marvel have done for, say, the likes of Ant-Man.

However, there is a trend with male Marvel superheroes I’ve begun to notice that Doctor Strange confirmed. Currently, they’re all caucasian… and a lot seem to have a male sidekick or friend of African descent (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America). My initial question is why? I’m excited for Black Panther and his origin as the first non-caucasian title character, but otherwise, why is it that white men are leading as title characters, whilst having a black companion? To say it’s to fit in with the “look” of characters from the comics is just not good enough. Plus, let’s just think briefly of Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One – it diverts hugely from the Doctor Strange comics and just felt… weird. If you’re looking for ethnic variety in a film, make it variety, not just one or two characters with a different ethnic background while the rest of them, even minor characters, are white.

Ultimately, Doctor Strange was a success. It was a fascinating watch; good, solid acting from most of the cast, amazing visuals and some thrilling fight scenes. However, I missed the lightheartedness of some of the other Marvel films, and I think it’s time we changed up the origin-story formula. Verdict: 8/10.