Two “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2” Stars Were in Another Film Together

Posted on May 5, 2017 at 3:31 pm

They don’t share any scenes in “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” but they shared an entire movie together in 1989: Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell were “Tango & Cash,” one of the quintessential buddy cop movies of the 80’s. Remember this?

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Crime Film History For Your Netflix Queue

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2

Posted on May 3, 2017 at 11:35 am

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended sci-fi/action/comic-book peril and violence with guns and explosions, characters killed, some disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: May 3, 2017
Date Released to DVD: August 22, 2017

Copyright 2017 Marvel Studios
Copyright 2017 Marvel Studios
Remember about a week ago when I said that the baby panda in “Born in China” was the most adorable creature on earth? That may still be, but Baby Groot is probably the most adorable baby in the universe. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2” opens up with a bang — a wild action scene as our heroes and anti-heroes fight a huge monster that is out of focus and at the side of the screen as we watch Baby Groot happily dancing to ELO’s lilting “Mr. Blue Sky.”

“A little good, a little bad, bit of both,” Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) promised his fellow Guardians and us at the end of the first film. And that’s what we get in this sequel, still delightfully off-kilter, still deliciously irreverent, and still delectably scored with 70’s pop songs. “Can you hold the banter until after the space battle?” one character asks. Probably not, and we would not want it any other way.

Despite the indicators the in post-credits scene from the first film, it is a relief to report that this movie is not about Thanos or another infinity stone. It is a more personal story, giving the characters a chance to know each other and us to know them, too.

Peter was born in Missouri to a single mother who died of cancer when he was ten, then captured by the blue-faced space pirate Yondu (Michael Rooker), who was hired to deliver him to his father but instead kept him as a sort of mascot/apprentice. In Vol 2 Peter meets his father, a “celestial” named Ego (really) with his own planet. And Zamora (Zoe Saldana) meets up with her estranged sister Nebula (Karen Gillan). I don’t mean “estranged” like having trouble agreeing on what to get Mom for Mother’s Day; I mean estranged like trying to kill one another.

Ego is accompanied by a new character named Mantis (Pom Klementieff) a shy and inexperienced empath who can read and sooth the emotions of others. As Peter gets to know his father, and even achieve his boyhood dream of tossing a ball back and forth with him, in typically off-kilter Guardians of the Galaxy way, the group is being chased down by a race of beautiful gold people who claim to be genetically perfect, led by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), via drone-style attack ships. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) could not resist stealing some of their precious batteries, the very ones Ayesha had hired them to protect. They are also being sought after by Yondu, who was expelled from the tribe of space thieves led by Sylvester Stallone (really, and it kind of makes sense because he does look and sound like an alien) for keeping Peter; kids are supposed to be off limits.

The banter is fine; with very funny references to “Cheers” and to David Hasselhoff and “Knight Rider.” The visuals are imaginative and striking and the battle scenes well staged. I got lost in the last one, but maybe we are supposed to. Writer/director James Gunn has an outstanding sense of pacing and tone. And I like the X-Men-style shifts of alliance. It is especially appropriate for characters who are “a little good, a little bad” to be surrounded by characters who are, too. While the father-son dynamic story does not always work, Baby Groot more than makes up for it, not just in adorable quotient but in what we learn in seeing the other characters interact with him.

“All any of you do is yell at each other,” Nebula correctly points out. “You are not friends.” “No, we are family,” Drax (Dave Bautista) replies. And we’re starting to feel like they’re our family, too.

NOTE: Stay all the way to the end for several extra scenes. You won’t want to miss the one with Groot.

Parents should know that this film includes extended sci-fi/comic book/action violence and peril with some disturbing images, characters injured and killed, some strong language, sexual references and and potty humor.

Family discussion: How did meeting his father change Peter’s view of family? Which switch of allegiance was most surprising?

If you like this, try: “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers”

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Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Scene After the Credits Science-Fiction Series/Sequel Superhero

Deepwater Horizon

Posted on September 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Copyright 2016 Lionsgate
Copyright 2016 Lionsgate
I’m a fan of director Peter Berg. His excellent “Friday Night Lights” film has been eclipsed by the popular television series it inspired. And I like the much-derided “Battleship,” which I thought was a great example of well-executed action movie, taking its entertainment value seriously without taking itself too seriously. His new “Deepwater Horizon,” based on the 2010 explosion and sinking of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, shows his skill in cinematic storytelling and his gift for pacing and action. But it is curiously constructed, as though for a fictional story more along the lines of Bruce Willis fighting a meteor than a real-life environmental catastrophe that killed 11 people and spread an estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. It should be an action-movie version of “The Big Short.” Instead, it’s an updating of “The Towering Inferno,” meaning — spoiler alert — the bad guy is the one who tries to cut costs.

Berg and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand follow the established formula for action films. The first ten minutes make us fall in love with the hero, his adoring wife, and adorable child. That’s not hard to do. The hero is Mike Williams, Mark Wahlberg, his wife is Felicia (Kate Hudson), and their daughter happens to be working on a report for school about Daddy’s job, which gives us a chance to find out about some very technical stuff in very simple terms. Daddy works on an oil rig out in the middle of the Gulf that pumps up oil from under the ocean. “That oil is a monster like the dinosaurs it used to be. My daddy tames the dinosaurs.” And Mommy will miss him very much when he goes. They are adorable. Got it.

The next scene introduces us to hero number 2, the weary veteran who is all about competence and integrity, Captain Jimmy Harrell, superbly played by Hudson’s real-life dad, Kurt Russell. And then there are the guys in suits, who are all about making their numbers and therefore cutting the corners that the veterans knows are not there for show but are actually necessary. There’s a lot of jargon, but basically all you need to know is that the good guys understand that there may be a problem and the bad guys do not want to take the steps necessary to find or prevent it. And the good guys are really endearing, and therefore it all matters a lot.

And then it all starts to blow up, and we get to the real reason for the movie, which is the “who will get out of this and how will they do it?” part. This is where Berg’s strengths really show, as each of the set-pieces are thrillingly staged. He has an exceptional clarity in conveying a three-dimensional space on screen — actually, several of them in different locations — and balancing the urgency of the action with genuine emotion. We see how the people on board think through the problems, from the logistics and the mechanics to the choices based in morality and courage. Wahlberg is, as ever, just right to play the guy you’d like to have next door, a decent, hard-working, family-loving man with enormous capability and integrity. Here, as in their previous collaboration, “Lone Survivor,” Berg keeps the focus on the challenges faced by individuals who have little control over the monumental, life-or-death tasks they are assigned by people far away with little understanding of the consequences of their orders. That worked better in the earlier film, as the story of the soldier far from command has existential implications that are inherent and instantly recognized. Here, the action is disconnected from the consequences that a brief text coda before the credits cannot make up for.

Parents should know that the movie includes extensive peril and violence, with some disturbing images and characters injured and killed, some strong language, and sexual references and a situation.

Family discussion: Why do the people on the rig use the term “Mr.”? Who could have prevented the explosion?

If you like this, try: “The 33” and the documentary about Deepwater Horizon, “The Great Invisible”

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Action/Adventure Based on a true story

The Movie-Making Families of Two Stars of “Everybody Wants Some!!”

Posted on March 31, 2016 at 8:00 am

everybody wants some wyatt russell

The attractive young cast of Richard Linklater’s new film, “Everybody Wants Some!!” includes two actors who come from Hollywood families. Wyatt Russell, best known for “22 Jump Street,” plays a transfer student. He is the son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.

Copyright Getty Images 2015
Copyright Getty Images 2015

And Zoey Deutch, who plays a drama student, is the daughter of Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future” and the television series “Switched at Birth”) and director Howard Deutch (“Pretty in Pink” and episodes of “True Blood,” “American Horror Story,” and “Jane the Virgin”).

Copyright Annapurna Films 2016
Copyright Annapurna Films 2016

She played Maya in The Suite Life on Deck and co-starred with her mother and sister in the cute film Mayor Cupcake

Copyright Highway One Pictures 2011
Copyright Highway One Pictures 2011
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