40 Years On: Star Wars (1977)


Team photo: Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

2017 marks 40 years of STAR WARS. The galaxy far far away (….) has been part of my life since I’ve been watching movies. For me, George Lucas’ creation is a cornerstone of who I am. I may not have been around in 1977 for the original release, but I did get to see it on the big screen in the 1990s, and subsequently went straight out to rent the sequels on VHS (remember those?) from my local library (remember those?).

If you really have never seen Star Wars, it follows farmboy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who is swept up in an adventure to rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) who has intelligence to cripple to Tyrannical Galactic Empire. With the guidance of old hermit Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and dashing rogue Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke becomes the new hope for a free galaxy.

This year’s Star Wars Celebration was particularly celebratory, with an appearance and much fond (and not so fond) reminiscences from Lucas himself, the premiere of THE LAST JEDI trailer and a loving and teary tribute to Carrie Fisher. Lucas probably shocked the floor when he proclaimed that “It’s a film for twelve year olds”. That’s not to say that Star Wars, or being really fond of it, is immature, or even that you should put away childish things you love. Star Wars is innocent, it’s fun, and its escapism. It captures imagination and it caused a much smaller me to run around the garden swinging a broom handle (adding the vroom myself) happy as Larry. Then there were the games in the school playground when I always wanted to be Darth Vader (is that weird?).

One of the first blockbusters was an indie film. Lucas was fed up with the wheeling and dealing involved with working with major studios, he wanted to avoid reaching the inevitable stage where they could say “we own you” as soon as a major hit was produced. Looking back now, the practical effects essentially made in someone’s garage and filmed in a car park look understandably old-fashioned, but in some cases they feel all the realer for it. The budgetary limitations are still evident but less obvious in the “Special Edition” that were cleaned up, enhanced and extended to bring particularly the first film in line with the more polished presentation of the rest of the trilogy.

The opening sequence of the Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the imposing triangular juggernaut that is an Imperial Star Destroyer and subsequent messy boarding skirmish has to be up there with the greatest first scenes ever committed to film. It’s exciting, it sets the tone and it shows us things we’ve never quite seen before. The fizz and fun of the Cantina scene, the ominousness of “That’s no moon” and of course the spectacular WWII movie-inspired Death Star trench run finale also spark the imagination.

As Harrison Ford famously quipped, “You can type this sh*t, but you can’t say it”. There’s a reason the two best scripts pre-FORCE AWAKENS were for EMPIRE and RETURN OF THE JEDI – Lucas didn’t write the dialogue. The best exchange in the film comes from Ford going off-piece, improvising Han’s “everything’s fine now” intercom conversation during the prison break sequence. Ford smartly spotted that it would result in a better performance if he, and by extension Han, really didn’t know exactly what they were going to say to the person on the other end of the line when their plan went awry. Elsewhere, Lucas tries to pack too much sci-fi exposition into too small a window, resulting in garbled, strangely paced dialogue (“Will-you-forget-it-I-already-tried-it-it’s-magnetically-sealed!”).

Luckily the dialogue is made up for by the great character moments: how Leia takes complete charge of the situation when she is “rescued”; Han’s progression from self-serving scoundrel to hero when he has something to fight for; the most shocking and brutal image of the saga setting Luke on his path, and you really believe him when he says “There’s nothing here for me now”. A special mention should also go to the actors who rely almost entirely on their physicality – David Prowse as Darth Vader, Anthony Daniels as C3-PO and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca – who make their characters completely their own.

Four decades on and, for me, I still feel the Force of Star Wars. The otherworldly yet familiar galaxy Lucas and his craftsmen created got bums on seats, but the characters and and the spectacle kept them coming back time after time. Here’s to another 40 years of both rewatching and brand new adventures…. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Feature, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

With EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (there’s probably a reason for the two exclamation marks) nobody is especially likeable, Richard Linklater is on very comfortable ground and it could be argued he doesn’t exactly stretch himself, but it comes from a real place nonetheless. The best sequence in the film sees the house-sharing baseball team hurriedly changing clothes and personas as they move from punk bar to country and western bar to performing arts school party over the course of a night. The boys put a lot of thought into how they look and whether they will fit in, but sooner or later any pretense falls by the wayside and they realise they can just be themselves. It’s a beguiling watch despite the fact that not a lot happens, and I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll get the most out of it if you’re really into either/or baseball or 70s music, though the film isn’t really about either. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)


I’ve got an itch, right here: 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions

There’s a reason ALIEN: COVENANT re-adopts the parent franchise title. PROMETHEUS seemed stuck in an identity crisis, whereas Covenant is proudly a proper Alien movie. You’ll get everything you expect and then some from Ridley Scott’s real return to marshaling the Xenomorphs, but a fair few twists and surprises along the way as well.

A human colony ship on route to a new home diverts its course when it receives a strange signal from a nearby planet. Already bloodied by a freak accident, the crew of the Covenant desperately make their way through the strange and murky jungle hoping for a sign to give them hope. What Daniels (Katherine Waterston), android Walter (Michael Fassbender) and the rest find is something deadly has been waiting for them…

Most of what happened in Prometheus is left by the wayside after this film’s opening prologue, and that’s fine because Prometheus didn’t really go anywhere. Everything you need to understand in the upcoming story is laid out in this clean, stylish and thoughtful scene between David and his creator Peter Wayland (Guy Pearce). “You created me, but who created you?” is the only question we need to carry over from Prometheus.

The film is all about the evil of emotion, the cruelness of creativity. It’s pretty bleak and hopeless stuff, exploring how we brought it all on themselves. We may have made great advances as a species, made great leaps forward because of our creativity (Scott loves to reference current innovations, for instance here humanity’s exodus to the stars is assisted by solar sails) but our free will has birthed many horrors as well. After all, every war and every genocide in our history began with someone with an idea convinced they were right, and Covenant uses this to great effect to drive the plot.

It’s Fassbender’s playground, giving twin androids David and Walter a very different physicality, personality and views on life, the universe and everything. Walter is hulking, methodical and sounds a bit like Kryten, David moves like a dancer; skipping and gesturing flamboyantly, his actions all driven by a need to find out what if? Whereas David’s final act switch of allegiance in Prometheus was baffling, his further actions here have a warped logic to them, and heighten the dark thematic undercurrents of the film at large. Waterston as Daniels isn’t a superwoman but is a problem-solver, getting out of many a tight spot using her wit and guile. I also enjoyed seeing an unusually downplayed and semi-serious Danny McBride, his character growth as helmsman Tennessee being perhaps the most unexpectedly compelling in the film.

Covenant does, as demanded by the genre, rely on people being stupid, but unlike Prometheus, which had some of the best minds, the top people in their respective fields, making the worst decisions possible, here it’s just a group of ordinary guys and gals. They are couples recruited to maintain the colony ship, get it where needs to go before beginning a new life among the stars. Being ordinary people, they quite often make the situation worse when they react badly to everything going to hell. They are wracked with grief by a fatal accident early on, and the crew clearly feels every single loss they suffer to their core, some of which are not noble or glorious, but messy, accidental and cowardly. Alien has always done death scenes well, and Covenant delivers them in a wave of satisfying splats.

The plot isn’t in any way surprising, the only unusual element being one of the twists not being used as such from the audience’s perspective, but rather as an act of how long our heroes can miss seeing what is really going on. With the story and visuals hitting such familiar (if well executed) beats, it is the subtext, the thematic richness that must bear the weight of the story, and here Covenant excels. It’s vintage Ridley Scott on his best angry and conceptual form, with added glossy gore and very stupid people dying spectacularly stupidly. Alien: Covenant may be downbeat, even hopeless in its outlook, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun as well and sets the franchise back on firm ground. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Series Retrospective: Scott-directed Aliens

Just in time(ish) for the release of ALIEN: COVENANT, I thought I’d look back at Ridley Scott’s two previous encounters with Xenomorphs, Engineers and Last Women Standing.


Which came first?: Fox

ALIEN (1979) It’s sometimes hard to believe that this was only Ridley Scott’s second film. The confidence shown in this intelligent, atmospheric and dark space nightmare his astounding, and it has quite rightly become an icon of both science-fiction and horror cinema. A slow, creeping fear embeds itself in your vitals, and like all of Scott’s best films, it’s visually flawless and said visuals prime for decoding hidden meaning.

The characterisation is lean and unfussy – Kane (John Hurt), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Ash (Ian Holm) – all simple but memorable creations, particularly when they die (not a spoiler nearly 40 years after the fact). Then of course there’s Ripley (Sigourney Weaver: sublime) who arrives so fully-formed a presence and a hero; strong, level-headed and independent, finding herself in a bad situation and puzzling her way out of it. I know there are plenty of fans out there who prefer ALIENS, but I can’t get past James Cameron softening the character to the extent he did by making the maternal instinct her driving force. Aliens was a good film about mothers and they needed a human counterpart to the Xenomorph queen, but why did it have to be Ripley? Why did she have to lose so much of her independence and agency?

Alien maintains its sweaty tension throughout, and plays cleverly with our fear of the unknown and makes the most of the cramped, hemmed-in setting, not to mention Scott’s long-running theme of the people running the show behind the scenes being the most terrifying, inhuman threat of all. You’d be hard pressed to guess the order of the crew’s grisly ends if you go in cold, and who’ll make it out alive, as you often can in contemporary horror. You might want to poke holes in the DIY spaceship sets and archaic computers, but I see it as all part of the charm. I’d still love to know whether the camera knocking against a crate in the film’s opening tracking shot was an intentional early jump-scare or a happy accident…


You just had to touch it: Fox

PROMETHEUS (2012) I was really hoping Ridley Scott was going to do justice to his own legacy when this came out five years ago. Did he? Ehhh… If you just had one word to describe Prometheus, it would be inconsistent. Scott’s long-awaited return to the genre that made his name is far from triumphant, but it’s by no means anything to be ashamed of. It’s undeniably visually spectacular, demonstrating just what Ridders can conjure up when a budget isn’t holding back his imagination (see David marveling at the holographic galaxy whirling around him) and there are occasional glimmers of Scott’s past glory with the ideas on show, but it does seem at times like they’re making it up as they go along.

Michael Fassbender is excellent as the android David, entertainingly channeling Peter O’Toole and creepy childlike curiosity, but a mid-reel change in his personality comes out of nowhere, seemingly happening just  because robots in these movies tend to either die or reveal a hidden agenda. Noomi Rapace is decent as the God-fearing archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, and thankfully doesn’t try to imitate Ripley. The rest of the cast are unfortunately made up of under-performing stars (Charlize Theron on steely autopilot) and TV actors who were doubtlessly hired because they were cheap. You do get a few memorable skin-crawling body horror shocks, but elsewhere events just don’t justify characters acting so monumentally stupidly.

Unlike the original Alien, Prometheus plods between set-pieces, indulges in the dull and provokes more new questions about the origins of the Xenomorphs than it answers. The big ideas are there, but are not handled with enough insight or creativity, which results in a diverting, but not particularly satisfying film. Prometheus might have ended up better if it leaned more heavily on the Alien-ness or became its own thing rather than being stuck in the grey area it finds itself in, something I’m hoping that Scott will rectify with Covenant. SSP


Posted in Film, Film Feature, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review in Brief: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS TEEN TITANS was the best superhero movie of 2016, and it was only 80 minues. With TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT, the animated arm of Warner Bros once again manage to embody what DC heroes represent so much more succinctly than recent live-action efforts. Epic runtimes and supposedly “serious” takes on comic book lore do not a good movie make on their own. For instance, “Pain forms a hero, either making them a diamond or grinding them into dust” pretty much sums up Batman and his extended family, and you don’t even have to point out that his mum shares the same name as another hero’s. The final combo-villain the Titans have to face is boring, but it’s still a pleasure to revisit this world and the film’s final moments are genuinely moving. As long as the DC Extended Universe continues its present downward trajectory and relentless moodiness, I sincerely hope Warner Animation keeps this series going, especially with this cast involved. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Few Thoughts More: Guardians Vol. 2


Enough about me, let’s talk about me…: Marvel/Disney

This following contains spoilers of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2.

I still stand by my initial review of Guardians Vol. 2. It’s definitely a better film on the second pass, and better still on IMAX. No, I still don’t think it’s as good as the first one, though I appreciate the character progressions if not so much the overall story.

There’s no getting around the fact that Vol. 2 takes about an hour to get warmed up. The first stretch is basically a series of (admittedly entertaining) skits and setup for ongoing plot points. The wider plot goes more-or-less exactly how you’d expect it to, as being an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK-esque sequel it goes darker, splits the central group up and brings with it unresolved baggage with absent parents. But Vol. 2 really comes into its own in an emotionally-charged and visually brazen final act. We haven’t really seen a superpowered father-son bust-up since Ang Lee’s HULK, and this one is a lot more accessible and looks so much better.

It is perhaps the best-looking film Marvel have produced to date, with out-there aliens, original sci-fi imagery (quantum asteroids that pop in and out of reality, spray-on ship repair) intricately jumbled rusty starship sets, Technicolor galactic panoramas and Kurt Russell reassembling himself layer-by-layer before our very eyes. They’re even almost there with de-aging VFX, from the terrifying mannequin-looking thing that was Jeff Bridges in TRON: LEGACY to the close-but-no-cigar Michael Douglas in ANT-MAN and Robert Downey Jr in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. I’m all for special effects giving actors an opportunity to expand their roles, and it’s nice to see Russell in his 80s heyday again, and fitting so comfortably into the Guardians-verse.

I’d also failed to fully appreciate the thematic richness of the film the first time I watched it. Ego is by some distance the most devious maniacal bastard the heroes of the Marvel universe have yet faced. When it becomes apparent that his grand plan has been shagging across the cosmos for millennia until he finds a genetically suitable host for a progeny, all in the name of making the galaxy in his own image, he becomes deliciously irredeemable. His portrayal feeds right back into the thematic underpinning, with both sets of baddies, Ego and the genetically engineered Sovereign striving for perfection and uniformity, and the Guardians stubbornly remaining square pegs in round holes. Everyone’s been torn apart on some level and painfully reformed, but their individuality, the reason for being outcasts and gravitating towards other outcasts, is what makes them.

This was a slow-burner for me, but it certainly hasn’t fallen short as many of Marvel’s sequels tend to. It’s unexpectedly complex if you’re prepared to make a second or third trip, and the criminally underrated Michael Rooker providing this film’s “We are Groot” moment towards the end is almost worth it all by itself. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Feature, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: The Accountant (2016)

THE ACCOUNTANT, about an autistic money launderer/assassin is beautifully obsessive in its visuals, less careful elsewhere. Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is only autistic when it suits the plot and he is able to turn on the charm and have social skills when the situation requires (basically when he shares a scene with Anna Kendrick). The most interesting thing about the film should have been not where the lead character is on the spectrum or what he can do because of the way his brain works, it’s that Wolff essentially plays both chief protagonist and antagonist. This SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-esque plotline of puzzling out an unconventional criminal’s actions is quickly forgotten about and hurriedly resolved(ish) later in favour of exploring Wolff’s origins. The film clearly comes from a real and caring place, you just want more character consistency, more risks and sharper plotting in a film about unconventional brilliance. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Raid (2011)


I felt that from here: Pt. Merantau Films/Celluloid Dreams

THE RAID, or: the Fine Art of Ultraviolence, as it really should be subtitled (subtitled REDEMPTION in the USA, which is sort-of a spoiler) was the finest martial arts film for a decade when it was rolled out over 2011-12 around the world. Simple, high-octane and beautifully brutal. Not bad for a previously unknown Welsh expat and his buddy who does martial arts.

A SWAT team is tasked with liberating an apartment block from a malicious drug lord (Ray Sahetapy) and his private army. Rama (Iko Uwais) the young new addition to the SWAT team, bids goodbye to his pregnant wife and before long is surrounded on all sides by rapidly degrading concrete and heavily-armed henchman. With much of his squad soon injured or dead, it is up to Rama to shoot, stab and brawl his way to the top of the high-rise and confront the mastermind behind it all.

Never before had human brutality looked so beautiful, presented in a way which would resemble an intricate dance if it weren’t for the copious blood and bone-snapping. It’s a joy to see a relatively unknown martial art being practiced on the big screen, and the Indonesian Pencak Silat allows for the choreographing of action unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Movement is unpredictable, full-on and incorporating the environment in nastily brutal ways (the manner in which Rama makes creative use of a door jam still makes me shudder slightly).

Uwais is far more than a blunt instrument however, and in the long tradition of strong silent types with a good heart throughout film history, it is established early on in the film that Rama is only committing the acts of brutality he does to provide a safe and financially secure life for his wife and soon-to-be-born child. The drug lord Tama is also shown to be the most diabolical of evil-doers, a representation of everything wrong with contemporary Indonesia, and thoroughly deserving of everything that comes to him. Uwais, along with Yayan Ruhian, who plays the terrifying and volatile bodyguard Mad Dog, choreographed the film and made the numerous action sequences so explosive and memorable.

Though the film in a sense de-sensitises you to violence, such is the extent and frequency of it on screen, you are brought crashing back down to reality by Writer/Director Gareth Evans’ human characters and subtextual comments on social problems prevalent in modern Indonesia (poverty, the break-down of family units and the dominance of the illegal drugs trade are all referenced within the film’s narrative). Evans is not just incredibly talented as an action director, guiding cinematographer Matt Flannery’s stylish camera work, and undertaking the striking, expert film editing himself, but he’s also an effective and intelligent, though minimalistic screenwriter, and as a passionate promoter of Indonesian culture, which he clearly has a great love of. He’s certainly a real talent to watch, and I am incredibly excited to see how else he can elevate the action genre, and perhaps other areas of cinema in the future.

The Raid was the finest martial arts film in a decade on release. What would Gareth Evans follow it up with? An even better one. Seriously, if you haven’t seen THE RAID 2, correct that right away. In fact if you’re reading this without seeing either then I can highly recommend a double-bill. The characters grow, the world expands, the action gets bigger and more ridiculous, Indonesia is put on the map of action cinema. What’s not to like? SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell, Hollywood?


Oh crap: Dark Horse Comics

Last night the news came over social media and via press release that we were finally getting another HELLBOY movie. Settle down folks, it’s not the much-clamoured-for never-movie HELLBOY III. It’s going to be a reboot and Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman are not involved.

Look, I know the reasons for Hellboy III not being made are complex and many, from Perlman’s age and schedule to del Toro’s schedule and need to occasionally sleep, to the usual studio guff, but I don’t see how does rebooting the whole thing helps matters. If Hellboy III was going to be too expensive with not enough of a guaranteed audience to turn a profit, how will it be any different if they start again? Surely you’ll be marketing towards the same audience, the already-initiated, who would prefer another movie in the previous continuity.

It’s currently rumoured that they want to improve on the del Toro HB movies’ moderate performance by making it R-Rated. Why? Hellboy isn’t Deadpool or one of the Watchmen. The Hellboy comics could get dark, but they weren’t gratuitously violent or reliant on swearing aside from the odd “crap” before something big and otherworldly punched Hellboy really hard.

Revolution then Universal were lucky to land a project with such a perfect match of talent to material after the original film’s troubled early years. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman brought Mike Mignola’s world to vivid and textured life in two immensely satisfying instalments. Inspired by Mignola rather than direct adaptations of his storylines (which are episodic and weave in and out of each other) they were respectful but not slavish to his vision (as if del Toro could be slavish to any imagination but his own). The ending of HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY demanded resolution, but the uncertainty/hopefulness of the final freeze frame now has a bittersweet edge to it.

The only glimmer of hope for this new project is that Hellboy’s father Mignola is personally helping to pen the script (hopefully adapting another storyline than “Seed of Destruction”) so it should do the writer-illustrator’s ideas some kind of justice. Doing said justice falls to Neil Marshall (solid director of THE DESCENT and GAME OF THRONES) and new Hellboy David Harbour (good shout for HB, and still with the miles on him to do many sequels if required).

Maybe I’m taking it a bit personally, still smarting over not getting to see the resolution to Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy journey, or more annoyed that yet again this gifted auteur seems to have been screwed by the system. Who knows, I might be wrong and this new Hellboy might be good. At least it should be a different take. Also, studio execs need to come to accept that Hellboy will never be mainstream, and may never be a box office smash no matter how “adult” you make it. He’s a unique contradiction who appeals to all us oddballs, so they’d better get used to it. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Comment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

guardians 2

We are still Groot: Marvel/Disney

Expectations can be a powerful thing. Nobody expected GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY to turn out quite as well as it did three years ago. And yet the batty space-opera starring Marvel Comics D-List characters and directed by the guy who wrote the live-action SCOOBY-DOO set the world on fire and captured viewers’ hearts. So I’d like to warn you to subvert your expectations for VOLUME 2. Don’t worry, James Gunn’s sequel still good, but you’ll be left disappointed if you’re expecting something quite as special as last time.

The continuing adventures of the reluctant intergalactic saviours dubbed the Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) finally reconnects with his long lost alien dad Ego (Kurt Russell), a reunion which brings with it a whole host of new problems for the cosmos.

The new additions to the Guardians lineup quickly feel like they belong. The adorable antennaed empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) brings innocence and idealism to the team and old frenemies Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) make the dysfunctional-family-in-space even more so. Michael Rooker is definitely the MVP here, with Gunn giving his long-time collaborator’s blue space pirate ample room to breathe and to grow, and the rest of the cast do what they do well (maybe not Sylvester Stallone, who despite seeing the film I am not sure why he was there or what he was doing). I found myself wishing Chris Pratt could have played his big moments a bit bigger, but his scenes with Kurt Russell on Ego’s Prog Rock album cover world (the contents of which I’m not spoiling) are still well worth waiting for.

It must be challenging for sci-fi filmmakers to avoid ripping off STAR WARS when their spaceships need to “jump” to another area of the starmap. Gunn and his imaginative effects team have come up with a neat visual of the ship shooting through a net of hexagonal cells, and they let their imaginations run riot elsewhere as well. From the slapstick result of henchmen tangling with Rocket’s (Bradley Cooper) arsenal of mischievous gadgets, to a hive of laser-bots scuttling around the hull of a ship to get a better shot and another elegant action sequence proving Yondu’s whistle-controlled flying arrow is the coolest sci-fi weapon since the lightsaber.

The highlight of the whole affair comes early on with the opening credits, set to Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) dancing to ELO as all hell breaks loose behind the blissfully unaware sentient sproutling. Elsewhere the music doesn’t pack quite the same eclectic punch as last time, and seems more incidental than essential to character. There’s a music-related gag at the end that falls a bit flat as well, and it comes at a point where Quill’s character might have undergone some important development.

I love that the filmmakers heavily lean on the pulpier, more OTT elements of the “cosmic” marvel universe, from a brief but explicit nod to Ego’s Living Planet form from the comics and that old sci-fi rag staple of a Big Glowing Space Brain making an appearance later on. Pre-Guardians vol. 1, it is doubtful if we’d have ever seen the like of these ideas with quite the same aesthetic in a major blockbuster, but with Vol. 2, DOCTOR STRANGE and the upcoming THOR: RAGNAROK, these are clearly films Marvel have faith in, and that’s encouraging to see.

Gunn’s script might not be as neat as the last one, but it’s full of good lines, my favourite being Star-Lord’s comment that Yondu, escaping from danger hanging on to his flying arrow makes him look “like Mary Poppins”. After a confused pause, Yondu responds, “Is he cool?”. The story offers few surprises when you know how sequels tend to go, but at least the finale, which at one point looks dangerously like the standard endless superpowered punch-up, is colourful, creative and character-driven. Guardians Vol. 2 can’t match the original, but it offers up enough fun, spectacle and character moments to make the revisit worth your time. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment