Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
By Laurence Washington
Let’s establish the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not as good as the first film – sequels seldom are. However, it’s still an entertaining follow up – especially the opening credits. Not to give too much away, but baby Groot (voice Vin Diesel) steals the scene.
That being said, when Guardians Vol. 2 rocks, it rocks! It’s a loud, colorful and action-packed adrenaline thrill ride.
There’s arazor sharp tooth blob with snapping tentacles, remote-controlled star-fighters, and a giant brain bent on ruling destroying galaxy.
Oh, almost forgot, Stan Lee makes another of his signature cameos, which is a payoff to discerning Marvel fans, explaining his 22 appearances in all of the previous Marvel character films.
Guardians Vol. 2 premise has Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill’s rag-tag ensemble: scheming Rocket Raccoon (voice Bradley Cooper), baby Groot, burly Drax (Dave Bautista) and Quill’s love interest green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), taking on the usual suspects: Yondo (Michael Rooker) the leader of the Ravagers, bald badass Nebula (Karen Gillan) and the addition of golden beings called the Sovereign.
But there are new recruits as well, telepathic Mantis (Pom Klementieff), former Ravager Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Quill’s estranged father, Ego (Kurt Russell) who rescues Quill from the Sovereigns. The only hitch is Ego may, or may not be, what he seems.
Guardians Vol. 2 is more ambitious and serious than its predecessor, despite the barrage of one-liners strategically delivered by Rocket and Drax for comic relief. If the movie has a fatal flaw, is most of the best scenes are shown in the trailer. Not a good marketing idea since Guardians has a presold audience. It’s like Star Wars; you don’t have to over sell it. Let the audience be surprised.
In addition, if the next installment runs less than two hours, I don’t think anyone will complain. Guardians Vol. 2 runs a little long for the material. A suggestion to the filmmakers: In several places where the film stalls, spits and sputters, leave those scenes on the cutting room floor, add them on the DVD and call it the Special Edition or Director’s Cut. Just a thought.
As with all Marvel films, remain in your seat until the house lights come on, or you’ll miss not one, not two, but five (count them) after credit scenes. And for gosh sake, see it in 2-D and save some money. 3-D is just a revenue maker for the studio and you’ll look ridiculous in those goofy glasses.
Director Gunn Explores Evolution of Guardians Motley Crew in Vol. 2
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
In 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy, the highest grossing film of that summer, introduced the world to an eccentric group of selfish,un-superhero like characters who are thrown together with the task of saving the galaxy. Picking up where that film left off, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the space adventures of the motley crew as they patrol and protect the universe.
For writer/director James Gunn, who returns to helm the sequel, his mission was not just about delivering a story that continued their exploits, but also exploring their evolution as characters.
“I knew what the general shape of the sequel was going to be,” shares Gunn. “But the one thing I had to figure out was if I was going to tell the story of Peter Quill and his father as Volume 2, which I thought was the big reveal or save it for a later time. Ultimately, I decided that it was the best story I have in hand right now and went with.”
Vol. 2 welcomes back the eccentric band of misfits and mercenaries introduced in the first film. From the irritable genetically modified humanoid raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper), the deadly, green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the hulking, heavily tattooed Drax (Dave Bautista), the blue-skinned Yondu (Michael Rooker), to everyone’s favorite Guardian Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), everyone’s back for round two.
There were some very obvious clues at the end of the first film where an inevitable storyline could go as Peter’s lineage was touched on so it certainly made sense, Gunn shares, to work on where that would take us in a storyline.
“At the core of the film,” he continues,“ the Guardians are a group of outsiders who come together and find a way to make it work. I think that’s what speaks to such a wide array of people.”
Everything fans loved about the first film – the characters, the humor, the action, and the music is in place in this galactic follow up and music plays an even bigger role with tracks from Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison to Sam Cooke tying into the story and character. Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, the story follows the team as they fight to keep their newfound family together while traversing the outer reaches of the universe to unravel the mysteries of Peter’s true parentage.
It’s a well-cast ensemble of performers that includes new villains and characters such as the strange insect-like alien Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who Drax develops a friendship with and Kurt Russell who plays Ego, Peter Quill’s long-lost father. There’s also a genetically engineered race of aliens known as the Sovereign, who are all gold, perfect and think they are physically and mentally impeccable.
With strong father/son and sisterhood themes played out in this story, Gunn once again jumps from planet to planet introducing species after species. In the course of the film, not only does Peter seek his father, he finds himself reexamining his relationship with Yondu and the evolving relationship between Peter and Gamora is also explored.
The first movie had such a great response with its cool soundtrack, action and lots of laughter and there are a lot of high expectations for this sequel, which bristles with energy and entertainment and doesn’t disappoint.
“We had Awesome Mix Volume 1 last time, and this time we have Awesome Mix Volume 2.” Gunn adds, “The songs are a little bit deeper in some ways; a little bit less pop in some ways. Some of the choices are a bit more eclectic; some of the choices are a bit more popular. But we have a real amazing group of songs that, like in the first movie, I wrote into the script. They are a part of the storytelling. Each song is very specific to the scene where it’s placed.”
By Khaleel Herbert
Rosario Dawson is the prey of her fiancée’s ex in Unforgettable.
Julia Banks (Dawson) bids adieu to her best friend (Whitney Cummings) andjob at a popular publishing company in San Francisco to live with her fiancé, David (Geoff Stults), in a smaller Californian town near the mountains.
This new living arrangement provides obstacles for Julia including getting to know Lily (Isabella Kai Rice), David’s young daughter, and Tessa (Katherine Heigl), David’s ex-wife who spends too much time with them.
During a shindig to celebrate David’s brewing business, Tessa glances at text messages on Julia’s phone. She learns that Julia and David are engaged. Houston, we have a problem! Tessa snatches Julia’s phone when she’s not looking and uncovers dark secrets, including an old relationship with one Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides), whom Julia filed a restraining order against several years ago.
Julia questions Tessa’s motives after learning from David’s friend that Julia became possessive and treated David as her precious like Gollum and his ring from Lord of the Rings. He ended things with her and she didn’t take it too well.
Unforgettable is a thriller that pushes the envelope in the obsessive lovers department. Sure, the plot stems from Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me, Martin Lawrence’s A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Beyoncé’s Obsessed, but there’s a twist. Tessa reaches the height of her insanity and Julia shows her reflection in the mirror. Tessa sees how crazy she’s become. In the previous thrillers, the psychopaths don’t know how crazy they get. They stay crazy until they die. But Tessa briefly gains her humanity thinking, Am I a monster?
Heigl is superb as a crazed ex-wife. Tessa is a real-life Barbie doll. She’s perfect and obsesses over having a perfect life. When David ends it with her, she can’t move on. She’ll do anything to get him and her old life back. Dawson is incredible as Julia who only wants to fit in with her new surroundings and live a happy life that neither of her parents had.
Unforgettable is a grand thriller filled with love and obsession with a side of scratches and bruises that I could watch over and over again.
Director Denis Di Novi Sees Unforgettable as a Cautionary Tale
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Denise Di Novi had two goals when she set out to direct the dramatic thriller Unforgettable.
A veteran film producer with over 40 film credits that include Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Focus, she had initially planned to produce the project when the opportunity arose to make her directing debut.
“It was a story I had really connected with,” Di Novi says. “It just felt like the right thing to do at the right time and as terrifying as it was, it really was a thrilling opportunity to direct.”
The latest obsessive-relationship thriller to hit the big screen, the film stars Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) as a jealous ex-wife who sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new wife (played by Rosario Dawson of the Sin City films). An engaging thriller with topical overtones, it explores the complex relationship between first and second wives and how it can all spiral out of control and explores domestic abuse, internet privacy, child abuse and the cycle of toxic parenting.
“The story intrigued me because it’s about two very different women thrown into a complicated blended family relationship. They each feel tremendous pressure – one to create the perfect life, the other to hold on to it. That pressure drives one to madness, while the other is forced to find the strength to fight for her life. I thought that would make for a very intense thriller,” Di Novi says.
With several moments of nail-biting tension, and a brilliant melodic score by Toby Chu, Heigl stars as TessaConnover, a woman barely coping with the end of her marriage when her ex-husband, David (Geoff Stults) finds another suitor. Despite being divorced for years, Tessa secretly believes they would someday reconcile, but that hope is dashed with the arrival of her ex’s new fiancée, Julia (Dawson), who assumes joint custody of their daughter. This enrages Tessa and she becomes determined to turn Julia’s dream union into nightmare.
An intense thriller, which is performance driven, the supporting cast includes Whitney Cummings (The Wedding Ringer), Robert Wisdom (TV’s Chicago PD) and Cheryl Ladd who plays Tessa’s domineering mother.
With facets of Fatal Attraction, sprinkled with Single White Female and a little dose of Misery, this movie is effective in its portrayal of dysfunctional relationships.
“I am a fan of those movies and I am a fan of this genre,” Di Novi admits. “What I wanted to do was in a way honor some of the archetypes and the metaphors and symbols of these movies, but kind of feminizes them and reinvents them and makes them my own,” adds the director, who is now firmly entrenched in the director’s chair.
Although she will continue to produce films, she is slated to direct the upcoming female action movie, Highway One, which releases in the fall.
“I want Unforgettable to work on two levels,” she continues. “I want it to be a funaudience pleasing ride and I also want this to be a cautionary tale for women of what happens when you lose your identity and you feel like your identity is based on your desirability to a man.”