Kurt Russell

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

You can read my original review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from May 2017 here.

The Guardians are using their fame to make money, when Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father Ego (Kurt Russell) arrives in their lives. The Guardians struggle to keep their newfound family together as they attempt to unravel the mystery of Peter’s father.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bright, fast-paced adventure. The planets, characters and costumes are all vibrant and unique to where they are in the galaxy. This film really does show the scope of the universe these characters are travelling around in as you get a sense of distance between planets, and what it means to jump from one to another.

While there’s still a lot of jokes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though not all of them hit the mark, the actual story and insights into these characters is quite sad. This team of unlikely heroes are slowly becoming attached to one another, and so many of them are unsure of how to deal with that. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) pushes people away, constantly having to compete with Peter and antagonising everyone in order to get a reaction. While you knew that Drax’s (Dave Bautista) family had been killed from the first film, through Mantis (Pom Klementieff) you get to see past his stoic appearance and see the pain and sadness he’s constantly carrying around inside him.

There’s so many moments between various characters where as they’re shouting at one another, they reveal how they’re really feeling, and how they in fact care about or understand the other person. These moments give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 layers as beneath all the colours, jokes and space battles, there’s these broken characters who are slowly becoming a family.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot of fun with great action sequences, but perhaps because the first film was such an unexpected delight the sequel doesn’t quite hit the same levels of greatness. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Sky High (2005)

Son of superhero parents, the Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is about to start Sky High – a school for kids with superpowers. The only problem is, he doesn’t have any yet and fitting into high school has never been tougher.

When Will and his best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker) don’t fit the typical superhero mould, they get relegated to sidekicks which are generally seen as the losers of the school. This is where you get your typical high school dynamic of the popular kids vs the unpopular kids, and you’re introduced Warren Peace (Steven Strait), the Bad Boy who has hidden depths. There’s a lot of fun scenes with characters using their different powers, whether that’s in fights or in training and seeing all the powers and technology like ray guns together can be entertaining.

Sky High blends a lot of typical high school movie clichés with superhero ones and they work well together to make a fun film. At some points it’s as if Sky High knows it’s almost a spoof of both the teen comedy genre and the superhero one. Characters wear clothes in colours that relate to their powers or to people they’re associated with, and there’s a great gag with the popular yet mean cheerleader squad.

Sky High’s not too different to the norm but it’s different enough with the elements it pulls from both genres and the entire cast looks like they’re having a lot of fun – Kurt Russell especially. Sky High is a fun-family film, it’s got comedy, drama and superhero shenanigans, definitely a fluffy easy-watch kind of film. 3/5.

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

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back, working for money, and going off on adventures till Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell), comes into his life.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot of fun. Drax (Dave Bautista) continues to be a standout as his brutal honesty and lack of understanding of social queues make many a witty moment. There’s a lot of one-liners and the relationship between this characters is charming and brings a lot of the humour.

There’s a great theme of “found family” running through Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (anyone who knows me know that’s my favourite trope ever) and it was done really well. You got to see how the team had grown closer since the previous film and the banter and arguments between them all is a highlight. The five characters who make up the Guardians of the Galaxy are great and you get new dynamics to the team with Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) who have bigger and more interesting roles this time round.

The actual plot isn’t so great – I won’t go into the plot a great deal as the promo stuff for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 really has shown only about the first 20 minutes of the film. (Well done marketing department for not showing a load of spoilers and climatic moments). It often feels like a series of scenes and funny moments stuck together with no real overall arc for a lot of the characters. For instance, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a character who often feels short-changed. The film is a bit messy and while I enjoyed the film as a whole, it did leave me feeling it was a good example of style over substance.

Because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a beautiful looking film. It’s colourful and CGI galore but it works pretty well and looks great. The alien creatures and planets are all different which makes this space opera richer and wonderful to look at. Plus, it still has an amazing soundtrack that will have you bopping along in your seat or smiling to yourself.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a bright, fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s funny and entertaining but it doesn’t really leave a lasting mark. 3/5.

REVIEW: Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seduced into the world of terrorism by the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron), his family and crew must join with old foes in order to stop him.

Fast & Furious 8 really steps it up a gear in terms of stunts and spectacle. There’s car chases on the streets of New York, a giant wrecking ball taking out cars and, of course, a submarine vs cars on ice sequence. They shouldn’t work and sometimes it’s a little chaotic to follow where everyone is but it’s best to let the adrenalin start pumping and go along for the ride.

Cipher is a very different kind of villain to what the crew has faced before. She’s almost all seeing and all-knowing thanks to her hacking skills and is powerful enough to get Dom to turn on his family for her. Most of her scenes are with Dom so it would’ve been nice to see her interact with more of the characters and see how characters like loud-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson) would react her.

It’s weird going into a Fast and Furious film without Paul Walker being there and they do have a reason why he and Jordana Brewster are not in the film, but the film generally still holds up with the old crew and a few new additions. There’s Eric (Scott Eastwood) Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) new protégée, who takes a while to gel and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is roped in to join the team. The conflict between him and the team is a bit hit and miss, the film quickly brushes off his history with the team (they almost killed his brother and he in turn killed one of their own and tried to kill the rest of them in the last film) and it would’ve been nice to see some more of that conflict. The one place you do feel that tension is between Shaw and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), their chemistry is great and there’s a lot of humour from them two trash talking each other.

Each member of the team has their moment to shine but in many ways, this is Dom’s film. He has the emotional beats of the film, along with (to a lesser extent) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). She, as his wife, is the most visibly torn up about his betrayal and while she does have some cringey lines, she gives a good performance.

What can I say, if you’ve seen any of the recent Fast and Furious films then you know what you’ll be getting into – a world where the laws of physics don’t apply and the main crew of street racers are more like spies or superheroes nowadays. Fast & Furious 8 continues to be a lot of fun with a thrilling finale and a lot of laughs all the way through the film – it’s mad but it works. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Hateful Eight (2015)

the hateful eight posterIn post-Civil War Wyoming in the dead of winter, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) take shelter in a cabin already occupied by a collection of nefarious characters. No one is who they seem and John Ruth must protect his bounty till the blizzard passes.

The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and if you know anything about Tarantino and his type of films, you’ll kind of know what to expect from The Hateful Eight. There’s a lot of swearing, a lot of fast-talking, and a lot of violence and blood. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but what it does, it does well.

Joining John Ruth and Domergue in the cabin are Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) another bounty hunter, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a man who claims to be the sheriff but no one really believes him, Bob the Mexican (Demián Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) the hangman, General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) a quiet old man with a grudge and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) a shifty-looking cowboy. All these characters together in a small space lead to an explosive showdown. However, the problem is that it takes a long time for them all to come together in the cabin. The first third or so of The Hateful Eight dragged as it was incredibly dialogue heavy and you only followed a couple of characters. Once everyone was together in the cabin, you got to see how all these different characters interacted and bounced off each other and that was the true delight in The Hateful Eight. (more…)