Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 ****
Dir: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice), Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff
The first Guardians Of The Galaxy came as a complete surprise to the general public. Even though it was a Marvel product but the Guardians of the Galaxy (though they have existed in comic books for close to 40 years in different iterations) don’t exactly ring a bell with the average movie goer unlike, say, Spider-Man, Superman or Batman.
Plus you had a leading man better known as a pudgy sidekick in TV and movies and a director coming from an indie background and no experience of helming a big-budget special effects laden extravaganza. But the movie’s fast-paced exuberance and irreverence coupled with a bunch of interesting characters, Pratt’s (boasting a newly gym-minted body) undeniable charm and insouciance and a killer soundtrack of 70s hits overcame some clunky storytelling to make GoTG a global box-office smash.
So could James Gunn and company live up to expectations? Surprisingly, not only do they meet expectations but exceed them. The laughs come thick and fast and there is plenty of character development. All the Guardians – Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the scene-and-heart stealing Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), and the surprise package of the movie, the literal-minded Drax (a much improved Dave Bautista) – get their moment to shine. Even other characters like Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) get effective story arcs and we are introduced to some intriguing new ones like Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Stakar (a surprise guest star). The action and effects are well-done (and the CGI team does an excellent job of de-aging Kurt Russell in the opening scene) and the 3-D is clearer and brighter and less distracting than usual. The pacing is smooth for the movie’s 2 and a quarter hour length and despite the 5 (yes, count ’em – five!) post-credit scenes, it doesn’t feel quite that long. Sure, the soundtrack doesn’t quite match up to the first movie’s but that’s a minor quibble because it is still pretty great.
Cut to chase: Fast, furious, funny and goes down smoother than the first.
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The Boss Baby **
Dir: Tom McGrath
Starring: (voices of) Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Miles Christopher Bakshi, Steve Buscemi
The animated The Boss Baby is a one-note visual joke – that of a bratty, self-centred, egotistical, money-obsessed baby dressed in a business suit – that is funny for exactly about two seconds. Those hoping for some meta-textual commentary in this age of Donald Trump (especially since the infant in question is voiced by Alec Baldwin) are in for a major disappointment.The story quickly devolves into predictability as two siblings (including our titular character) figure out that they need to learn how to work together to foil a dastardly scheme and discover the joys of family in the process. Which would be fine as far as that goes but the jokes are not only hackneyed but decidedly unfunny and the movie stretches out a thin plot far too long.
Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection