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Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2

I wrote this as a sample piece for a potential article submission site, but they rejected it because I couldn’t physically format it to their spec, so screw it, I’ve written it, people can read it if they want. May expand it past the word limit they gave me at some point.

After breezing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn set out to conquer the sophomore slump. With Vol. 2 he will have satisfied many, but some will be let down by the slightly bloated plot and very familiar third act.

The film centres around Chris Pratt’s leading man Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill, and his relationship with his father Ego, an ancient, godlike played brilliantly by Kurt Russell. The original cast return, but we are treated to some new faces across the 136 minute runtime. Sylvester Stallone joins to lend his weight to a franchise famed for it’s levity. If you listen carefully enough, you’ll even hear Miley Cyrus lending her voice.

Vol. 2: Too much, or too little?

The main issue of the film – to me, at least – is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to accomplish. There seems to be a slight discord between Gunn’s vision and Marvel Studios’ plan for their universe. The Ravagers and The Sovereign are both elements that were given a lot of time, seemingly with spinoffs in mind, which gave us less time with the guardians we fell in love with in the first place.

Splitting the team up for a large chunk of screen time helped to get a lot of character arcs in, Quill, Gomorrah and Rocket all progressed as characters over the course of the film, but Drax the Destroyer and Yondu were the standouts; Drax providing much of the comedic relief and Yondu capping off a rather mundane third act with the deepest emotional beat of the movie.

Managing people’s sky-high expectations on Guardians 2 was always going to be a tough task, but another stellar soundtrack and the same brilliant characters absolutely puts Vol.2 among the upper tier of Marvel movies.

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Suicide Squad spoiler review 

Back to the blog! Toyed with trying to start a YouTube channel but I don’t yet have the testicles for it. 

Speaking of YouTube, one of my most favourite people has started up his own channel, and two of the videos he’s put up will be the same as my weekend’s posts, so go check him and his friend out here. 

Onwards with the review! 

Suicide Squad was so enjoyable. I have no idea why. The film in general was a complete mess plotwise, and it played out like a slightly less convoluted Batman v Superman. Feels like we could have had two or three movies for these characters before this one to give them all the time and stories we need to care about them. 

Deadshot and Harley were the best characters, shockingly they had the most screen time and character development. Captain Boomerang was fun (well done Jai Courtney) but underused, as was Diablo. I just straight up didn’t like Killer Croc. 

I’m sure there was someone else, but the fact I can’t remember tells me they didn’t need to be there. 

The Enchantress was not great but she did the job. Although I didn’t know what the hell her and her brother were doing or why, they worked as well if not better than any other recent superhero film villain.

I liked the relationship between Rick Flag (Rick? I can’t remember again) and Deadshot, for the most part. I just wouldn’t have made them be such bros at the end, like Mr. Flag literally threatened to kill them all for the entire film, just to be forgiven because he’s sad about his girlfriend. At least she wasn’t called Martha.

The one thing that contributes more to the overall confusion – behind the plot – is the flip flopping that goes on with the characters. 

So at first they’re prevented from abandoning their nonsensical mission by explosive chips in their neck, but then as soon as Mr. Flag disarms the chips they just follow him into a massive-as-balls third act fight because his girlfriend is still inside evil Cara Delevigne somewhere. 

Also, didn’t Boomerang actually leave in that scene only to reappear in the slomo montagey walking into the danger shot? Was that just for a cheap laugh or what?

I liked them killing off Slipknot early, it showed they weren’t messing on with their killing death chips. There were a few bits that gave me a chuckle but the constant pop songs through the first third were so distracting. Like totally took me out of the film every time I was getting back into it. Good songs though.

The Joker was totally irrelevant. Harley could have maintained her great character without him, leaving DC to introduce him in a Harley solo or the new Batman film? Maybe. While Jared Leto was excellent, his screen time absolutely did not call for the amount of ridiculous prep he did. I have heard that a lot of his scenes were cut. 

I realise that just about everything I’ve written is negative, but I did in fact enjoy Suicide Squad. The chemistry was good between the cast members, Batman made a couple of cool cameos, the scene where Deadshot utterly annihilates an entire troop of those weird alien things is amazing and there were some cool moments, some fun moments and some reasonably emotional moments. 

Now that DC have had a couple of films to ram a whole bunch of characters down our faces, hopefully the follow ups will be a little more stripped back. Too much has happened in two movies!

But go see Suicide Squad, like I said, I don’t know why, but it was worth it despite all it’s flaws. Also, with it only being two hours long the ultimate director’s best bits highlights cut might be worth watching. 

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack 

Everything RIGHT with Batman v Superman

I went to see Batman v Superman this week with four people. Talking about it when we came out with two others, three hated it, two enjoyed it and one was Ashley who has no opinion on any film unless it’s Monty Python.

I loved it. Watching Dan Murrell talk about the death of Superman on Screen Junkies is making me a little less excited looking back, as his/the comics way sounds way cooler.

I’ve seen and heard and read almost universally mixed to negative things about the movie – and it is a bit of a mixed bag, it’s not perfect by any means – but I am an optimistic person and won’t be including any of that stuff in here, it’s already everywhere else.

Rather than doing a big long pro review I’m gonna go the way of my Force Awakens review and do some hopefully snappy quick points from what I recall of the movie that I only saw two days ago…

Read More…

Deadpool: awesome!

I’ve literally just got in from watching Deadpool and eating pizza thanks to Emerald treating me lots for my birthday.

Spoilers incoming, I guess. I mean, it’s two hours of violence and swearing and boobs and penis jokes, does plot really matter here? Sort of, but not really.

If there are any typos please do keep any corrections until the morning when I can bothered to do something about them. I run a professional blogging service here don’t you know.

Okay, so it’s more like word vomit and every thought I have goes straight onto the page in the order they leave my brain, rather than the order they probably should go in. Who wants to be like everyone else though?

Enjoy my disjointed ramblings, I’m going to bed.

I had high hopes for Deadpool, and it was brilliant. Twenty minutes in I wanted the DVD.

I expected it to be an 18, but the 15 rating doesn’t detract from the blood and swearing and insults, so that didn’t make too much of a difference.

The main character is the main reason to watch this movie. Ryan Reynolds plays him in such a breezy, sarcastic, laid back way that really speaks to me somehow…

The fact that it turns into a bit of a love story save-the-girl-from-bad-guy thing seems a little contradictory to the rest of the film, which sets out to be the least Marvel Marvel film ever, but pretty much everything that comes before it is gold.

Apart from the rest of the boring lovey bits, although the first flashback gives more depth and character development in ten minutes than the rest of Marvel’s big budget action fests.

The inherent anti-hero attitude is what worked for Stone Cold Steve Austin (old 90s wrestling reference). While it is really weird to see him being all despondent and emotional in patches, it kinda works until the last cliché at the end. It is hard to imagine a guy who constantly jokes about dicks (not a complaint) being crushed and heartbroken though. Back to talking about Deadpool here, not Stone Cold.

Deadpool’s sidekicks are just kind of there. They don’t offer a lot, other than Deadpool breaking his everythings on Colossus and his metal testicles. Next to the charisma and style of Deadpool, his two allies just seem out of place. Having said that, there are so many little fourth wall jokes; the studio being priced out of more X-Men for the movie, a Weapon XI action figure from Origins: Wolverine, and so on, it makes it worth having them around.

So yeah, I’d give the film a solid 9, probably level with Guardians on my list of Marvel offerings. The infallibility of the lead hero – used loosely – and villain could make the fight scenes a little futile, but the way those scenes are shot make them some of the most fun sequences in the whole thing. The freeze frames and slow motion, along with the regular fourth wall breaking and jabs at Hugh Jackman are all just my favourite.

Speaking of fun sequences, the opening credits are wonderfully playful, and are actually returned to as a separate scene later on.

That’s pretty much all I either enjoyed or care about right now as I’m quite sleepy, so headlines are as follows: Ryan Reynolds has finally found the Marvel character he’s born to play.
The kiss the girl foil the bad guy bit is way overplayed, as this film references itself in the opening scene. Bit hypocritical, and my only real negative here.
Some of Deadpool’s reactions and general silliness: totally hilarious.
Triple kill headshot. This is why Wolverine should have been a 15. At least.

Loved it, go see it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Star Wars

Happy New Year!

Last night was the first year I can remember where I didn’t end up watching Jools Holland.

Instead at Emerald’s I watched Hogmanay from Glasgow, obviously. Wish we could’ve been in Edinburgh watching Biffy Clyro, but Emerald’s house is warm and not £60 for the night.

Before that, we finally went to see The Force Awakens. Instead of doing a normal boring wordy post, I have a few points that came to me during the film, so I’ll share those in the hope I am agreed with.

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Spoilers below, obviously. I managed to make it two weeks from release without finding out any details, so if you still haven’t seen it then stop reading silly, the post is called Star Wars why did you even start?

I’m doing my best to record my thoughts at the time in the order I thought them. I can’t remember my own hair colour sometimes, so if it’s slightly non-chronological then oops.

Straight away, Stormtrooper blood. Already taking Star Wars in a gritty real dark modern gritty direction.

Kylo Ren looks awesome.

The new droid is quite funny, but BB-8 isn’t quite as iconic a name as R2-D2 or C-3PO. Although I suppose it’s not nearly 40 years old.

Also it seems to have more feelings than a droid should have. Blaming Disney.

I don’t think that pilot guy died in that crash, not sure why he ended up far away from the fighter without his jacket though.

OH MY GOD IT’S THE MILLENNIUM FALCON!

OH MY GOD IT’S HAN AND CHEWIE I CAN’T TAKE THIS NOSTALGIA.

A random Scottish man appeared.

Some random Asian men appeared.

Some giant weird creatures escaped and attacked all the people.

Chewie got shot. I don’t know what to do.

He’s okay it’s fine. If he dies I’m walking out.

Not a lot happened until Rey (Ray?) wanders into Luke’s lightsaber and some cool visions happen.

The bit with Luke and R2 from the trailer with his robot hand was so cool.

I think Rey is related to Luke somehow. I hope not, everyone seems to be related in this universe.

Resistance has arrived, here comes Leia.

Han and Leia.

Hahaha I’ve never been so happy to see C-3PO.

R2 is broken, he misses Luke doesn’t he :(.

Oh the First Order have a Death Planet. I hope noone sends a small fighter in to exploit its inevitable weak point.

So Rey has the Force, yeah she’s probably related to Luke.

Daniel Craig alert! Wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been put on alert beforehand.

Ren’s being all vulnerable and weak, is he not pretty much a Sith Lord? What is this?

Aha, the Rebels have devised a plan to attack the weak spot of the Empire’s space station.

Oh wait.

Leia wants Han to bring their son back. Han’s going to die isn’t he?

Oh yeah I didn’t mention Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s son. That Vader mask was epic.

Now they’re sneaking around the enemy ship, and trying to get the shields down for their ships overhead. I’d swear I’ve seen this before.

Chewie picked up a jacket for Han because he was cold. I love that wookie.

Chewie don’t die.

Han and Chewie are splitting up. One of them is going to die.

Don’t die Chewie.

Sad wookie noises.

Ben!

Don’t die Han, don’t go on that bridge.

Shit.

He won’t turn him good he’s the only cool villain in the whole film.

Dead. Liam Neeson x Emperor style.

Get him Chewie! Get him with your laser crossbow!

Saber battles. Pew pew. Rey wins, not sure why her and Finn can just use lightsabers nearly as well/better than Ren.

Death Star III is kaput.

All the people I care about are sad, apart from Han. Han is dead.

Rey is off to find Luke, looks like Ireland.

Big epic shot of Rey and Luke was kind of underwhelming. His robot hand looks less cool now.

End. Not happy.

Pretty sure that’s everything that I thought while watching, there were a lot of cool moments and up to Han dying it was brilliant.

One or two of the old characters dying is something I can deal with but not Han, in the first film of the trilogy, with hardly any screen time with Leia and no scene with him and Luke.

Apart from that, I think all was well, I’d put it up there just below the originals. Will probably go and watch again, might update as and when.

Happy 2016 all.

Have a nice year, bang bang!

Sons of Anarchy – Spoiler FREE!

Only took me nine months from the series finishing to me watching the last episode, but I finally finished Sons of Anarchy.

I started watching it on Netflix a good year or three ago, whenever it was I first had Netflix. It may have had something to do with the two leather jackets I bought last year, but since I have no money and live in England there’s no chance of a Harley appearing on my driveway soon. Not ever ruling it out though.

I’m fairly certain this is one of two non-sitcoms that I’ve managed to get all the way through, the other being the two seasons of True Detective that have been released so far. One of which I don’t really remember much about, thank you Bell’s and Mark.

This show was awesome. It’s about bikers, and has Hellboy in it. I love looking, however Hollywood-ified it is, at what it’s like to be in a motorcycle club. Living vicariously and all that.

Since season 7 – the final one – is the only one I’ve watched in full recently it’s the only one I remember in full. Emerald is currently working her way through the series though, so she’s refreshing me on what’s been going on. But this is the spoiler free version anyway, so it doesn’t matter!

So a nice, short, spoilerless review. Keepin’ it short today.

Seasons one and two were amazing. The MC evolves constantly, plenty of twists and I got the feeling that just about anything could happen at any point. Those tense moments and shattering, devastating scenes made the show incredible in its early years.

Sons was never quite as good for me after series three or so. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it and wanted to keep watching, but it seemed to lose some of its shock value as the series went on. There were so many things going on I honestly ignored some of it, rather than rewinding or reading up on what was actually happening.

The relationships with the IRA, other SOA charters and rival gangs are all interesting enough, and really give enough different angles to keep the show feeling fresh after seven seasons, but sometimes it all just came together in a bit of a bloody mess. Presumably bang on what Sutter was going for.

Can I just take a moment to point out that my phone no longer has a :L emoticon? I also somehow feel really old still calling them emoticons, despite the fact I’m young enough to know the word emoticon. But what if I need to show how laughing I am with a little yellow face? I miss MSN Messenger.

I came back to the show with three episodes of season six left, and then the 13 episodes of season seven. They were, intense. And insane. Like, they were so crazy they made me question my memory of what I’d watched before that point, which seemed like it had a cool, chill, ‘occasionally kill people but we have such a close bond and such manly biker bants that’s it’s kinda hilarious’ vibe to it. Most of the time.

I don’t exactly know whether I should put my reaction to the last scene on here, even without describing it. Just in case. All I’ll say is, with fifteen minutes to go I wasn’t sure what I was going to be feeling about it. Fifteen minutes later, I feeled. I feeled feelings.

The one thing I will mention about the finale is the music. All the way through the series the soundtrack has been amazing, and season seven was probably my favourite for music on offer. There’s some cool hip hop/soft rock, and punk cover of a love song – for a car chase, obviously – and the final song we hear right at the end.

I’ve seen a couple of reviews talk about the musical montages being overly leaned on throughout the later seasons, and on some occasions I agree that the scene that precedes would be a much tighter, snappier ending. But they get it right more often than not, and when they do it’s glorious, whoever they are.

It’s the last one though, the last song from The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers, that really just clicks so well. It plays over the top of not quite a montage, more one central, cascading river, every now and then splitting to a off-shooting stream, always returning to the river just before it enters the sea.

There, a nice, deep, meaningless prose to end it on. Would be perfect if I hadn’t kept on writing.

I’ll embed a bunch of my favourite songs into my next SOA post I think.

There have been a few times where I thought SOA had seen better days, that maybe it dragged itself out a little too long. That goes down, in my opinion, to the extended runtimes it had in the last couple of seasons.

That final season though, series finale in particular, was brilliant, because everything and everyone changed from the pilot, yet everything was somehow so familiar. I cared so much about so many. Also Chibs. I want a Chibs prequel on his personal relationship with the IRA or how long he had been involved with the Sons or which is his favourite pattern of tartan. Just anything for more Chibs please.

This was not short.

Emerald is working her way through season four at the minute, might have finished it as we type. Once she’s all done with it I’ll post my spoiler filled version, just in case she clicks it accidentally and then I get in trouble. Noone else can make me be in trouble I’m afraid so if you click on it by accident when it does go up I’m sorry, but it did finish nearly a year ago.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

 

Better late than never…

I fear this blog is now going to be used a lot more sparingly than previously. I’m afraid since November things have not been going especially well, leaving me in no inspirational mood to write anything.

Never mind, I’ve come back to this now just to put some thoughts down about the year so far. Really I should either have got a post out around New Year’s or wait until the end of the month to do a monthly catch up. But again, never mind, the feeling to write may well go away as quickly as it arrived tonight.

The year started off well enough, good party and then my first ever trip to St James’ Park to watch Newcastle v Burnley. The hungover, insanely windy drive wasn’t fun, but the game was.

I am a Mr. I am an adult.

I am a Mr. I am an adult.

There have been a couple of fun nights out since then, one saying goodbye to Devon who’s now away in New Zealand – hopefully having far too much fun to read this.

I’ve been to see Birdman and Foxcatcher – both were excellent, Birdman was super-excellent. American Sniper has been pushed back to next week due to lack of friends available today. Really though, those other two films are well worth a watch.

Plenty of music things have been happening too. HIM and Yellowcard have jumped back up my favourite bands list. Fall Out Boy and Enter Shikari have both put out new albums that I am currently enjoying very much while writing this.

On Sunday (18th) I filled my car up with people and trotted up to Glasgow to see Slipknot, which as it turns out was my 20th concert, so that was nice. We got there way early so spent a good chunk of time in a pretty cool bar called The Libertine. Enter Shikari just sampled themselves, and it has thrown me off, so here’s a picture from said bar via Lydia the picture taker female person.

I was going for Kurt Cobain with the jumper, it turned out more Freddy Krueger/Dennis the Menace :/

I was going for Kurt Cobain with the jumper, it turned out more Freddy Krueger/Dennis the Menace :/

I hadn’t listened to Slipknot all that much since The Grey Chapter or even All Hope Is Gone came out, but their stage show and energy was unreal. The sound was a little off, but the Hydro in Glasgow is, I think, the biggest arena I’ve been to. Having decent seats we had an awesome view of the crowd on the floor and it was incredible.

This was the first picture I took, right as the lights went down...

This was the first picture I took, right as the lights went down…

 

Much better.

Much better.

I also have three videos uploading to my YouTube channel right now, but they’re taking such a grindingly long time that I’ll probably add them in post-posting. Yes, that does make sense. I just remembered that we also caught the end of Korn’s support set. They’re a band I’ve liked periodically, but they put on a great show too.

While I haven’t and don’t usually make any New Year’s resolutions or promises, this year I’d like to get to a few more gigs than I’ve managed recently. Mallory Knox are on my radar this year, and I’d like to get that total of 20 up to 25 or 26, depending on what comes up.

Anyway, the video upload is starting to make my old laptop quiver under the pressure of having too many things to do at once, so I’ll wrap this up and edit when they’re live. Will probably get another post in at some point in February, after my birthday in a couple of weeks when hopefully some more exciting things have happened. Also hoping to re-read and publish my first short story on here soon, mood permitting.

Oh, also I hammered through the full first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in three days this week, it is awesome! Go watch it! Bye-bye!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Dogma, View Askewniverse

After having Dogma on my Sky+ planner for so long that when I recorded it Friends was still on E4, I watched it the other night.

Haven’t done a film thing in a while, haven’t really fancied it, but I’m on my own tonight for the first time in a few days so may as well do this.

Before Dogma the Kevin Smith films featuring Jay and Silent Bob I’d seen were Clerks 1 & 2, Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Clerks and Strike Back were the best.

I like Smith’s Askewniverse. It’s kind of like a normal interlinked film series but more stupid. Jay and Silent Bob are in all of them, but actors like Ben Affleck and Jason Lee play many characters in different films.

Dogma has a cool cast and plot and is just a fun film. I like fun films. Not sure about Alanis Morissette being cast as God, but the rest is pretty hilarious.

I didn’t even know Jay and Bob were in this film so I was right happy when they showed up. I also feel like the church that they used in New Jersey were very accommodating to a film that rips holy hell out of Catholicism. No pun intended at time of writing, but after re-reading, sure.

Jason Lee, Chris Rock and Salma Hayek are all rather fine accompaniments to the Jay-Bob-Bethany hoohah, and of course there is Alan Rickman who is just Alan Rickman levels of awesome.

Matt Damon is probably my favourite actor in this film, not sure why I just thought he was good.

Matt Damon.

Pretty much all I have to say on that. I like a film that takes a controversial topic like religion and totally makes light of everything about it. Taking on a subject like afterlife and the whole heaven and hell thing could have been fairly grim.

There are some really funny moments, mostly involving Jay spewing absolute trash and being confused and angered at everything. Crude, but brilliant.

Probably comes close to Clerks as my favourite Kevin Smith film. Thought provoking I’d say.

Happy June! I had some lovely pollock fillets for tea today.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Late, late Iron Man 3 reaction

I know it’s been either a week or two weeks since I actually went to see this film, and in the interim I’ve been to see The Great Gatsby, but for my first non-general post in a while I’m going to rack my brains and try to remember how I liked the new Iron Man.

First off, it has to be said that I’m not a huge fan of Iron Man in general. I never thought he was one of the cooler superheroes, so I was never going to like this as much as Batman or Hulk or Thor.

Second off, it also should be said that while Iron Man isn’t cool to me, Robert Downey Jr. is. So, cool factor is restored somewhat to even for the film.

I’ve decided not to spoil things by going into massive plot details, but basically Stark has to save his girlfriend and the world from a big super-villain man who has recruited a lot more nasty men to help him be nasty. Not exactly reinventing the superhero wheel.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the wheel. I like wheels. Anyway, nothing that would seem unusual for this kind of film happens really, there’s a lot of funny moments as expected of Iron Man, and a few huge epic explosion-laced fight scenes.

The coolest moment for me involved a return of the very first suit seen in the first film, in the most epic part of the finale.

Downey Jr. was funny as usual, but also conveyed a more serious side through the second half of the film. For the first time he was playing the chaser, rather than simply the fighter. He was racing against time to save Pepper, and that gave this film the extra dynamic to separate it from the first two.

I enjoyed it, think I gave it a 7/10. Would recommend in the cinema, probably wouldn’t buy it on DVD. Fortunately, thanks to Jess I doubt I will have to make that decision though.

Have a nice day, bang bang!- Cactus Jack

Iron Man 3 tomorrow

Pretty much what it says really. First summery thing of the summer with friends, off to the cinema tomorrow for the new Iron Man.

Not a huge fan of comic book films really, especially Iron Man. The Dark Knight trilogy was awesome, obviously, and I liked The Avengers and Amazing Spiderman.

Iron Man is one of my favourite Avengers because he’s hilarious, but the actual Iron Man films just haven’t been very good to me. It’s the same superhero film formula, he’s never realistically going to be beaten because he’s the hero. True of most film plots I suppose, just more glaringly obvious with superheroes.

But it should still be entertaining, it’s Orange Wednesday too so will be cheap, and it’s good to get out and do things with people. As long as it doesn’t involve a horrid sweaty club playing horrid sweaty music I’m in.

So yeah, not a massive comic book nerd or film nerd, not gonna pretend to be. Still hopefully be a good film and a fun day tomorrow, looking forward to it.

Also I just ordered Dominos and really need to start eating better over summer. I should have a job sorted at some point and I have futsal and squash and swimming and gym to keep fit with, I just don’t know how to diet.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack