The Dead Rule The Sea

pirates 2

Once upon a time, a fourteen year old girl who thought she understood how the world worked rolled her eyes at the prospect of a movie based on a Disney ride.

Now, it’s 15 years later (gross) and that girl thinks that that movie is great, it’s just that the things that came after aren’t so much?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl is a really good movie, and there’s hints of that greatness in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but only hints.

There’s a decent ghost story at it’s center, which echoes it’s origins. A pirate hunter drawn to his doom by Jack Sparrow’s shenanigans returns, determined to have his revenge. This message is carried to Jack by Henry Turner, the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, which is a decent way to start fresh while connecting to the old story (spoiler, this movie kind of squanders that chance.) Henry is determined to find the Trident of Poseidon, a mystical maguffin that breaks sea curses or something and would free Will from his vow to serve as the captain of the flying dutchman. (The bargain Will made in Pirates: At World’s End still stands and Henry thinks it’s bullshit. So do we, Henry, so do we.) They’re joined due to plot shenanigans by Carina Smith, an astronomer who everyone thinks is witch for some reason. (She doesn’t even get weighed with a duck, so like, I don’t know how they tested it.) Oh, and Captain Barbosa, because sure, whatever.

There are some decent set pieces and Captain Salazar, the bad guy, is pretty freaky, and played by Javier “I Can Out Weird You In My Sleep Depp” Bardem. Brenton Thwaites looks eerily like Orlando Bloom, who basically looks the same as he did when he first stepped into The Council of Elrond. ( Depp sleepwalks through the movie, which is too bad, because 14 years ago, Jack Sparrow really was an interesting character. Hell, 6 years ago, in On Stranger Tides he was at least entertaining. But it’s pretty played out by now. Kaya Scodelario is lovely as Carina, though she doesn’t get much to do, and as compared to Elizabeth she’s pretty thin as a character. (Kira Knightley pops up in the last 20 seconds of the movie, and mostly I was annoyed that you know, the consumate badass Elizabeth became is flat disregarded.)

Overall, I will probably watch the movie again when it inevitably plays on cable on some sleepy Sunday, probably in marathon with the other 4 movies.

Pirates could have returned to the surprising fun of the first film, the potential is there in the bones of this movie, but it simply doesn’t deliver.

Rankings

  1. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  2. King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword
  3. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

Transformers: The Last Knight: 
Me: See, Optimus has a sword now, and I think he’s the bad guy this time.
Mary: That’s stupid, Optimus isn’t a bad guy.
And thus the spell this trailer seemed to have over me is broken. Thanks sis!

Cars 3: I don’t think that I ever saw Cars 2 when I think about it, but this one appears to be paying tribute to Rocky 3 so, I’ll probably see it.

Blade Runner: 2049: Mary again, “That looks cool, too bad I hate Blade Runner.” I haven’t watched Blade Runner since freshman year of college, so I need to watch it again before this comes out. I don’t remember liking it much, but you know, Gosling and all.

I’ve Searched Through Every Open Door

Dirty_Dancing_2017

I love Dirty Dancing. Like, truly love. I’ve gone off on drunken rants about how if the world of pop culture celebrated the things that teenage girls love the way that they celebrate the things that teenage boys love, people would talk about the perfection of Dirty Dancing as a romance movie the way they talk about Die Hard’s perfection as an action movie. I once ran across a party to shout down someone who dared to say that Bodie from Point Break was Swayze’s iconic role. (HOW DARE YOU DISREGARD JOHNNY CASTLE??? NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!) (Point Break is also really great.)

So, last night, I obviously settled in to watch the ABC remake of Dirty Dancing. I was ready to hate it. And I didn’t. So that’s a thing. To quote my sister, “I am opposed to this thing on principal, but it’s better than Havana Nights.” (I saw Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights two times in theaters. I really love Dirty Dancing. Is that clear?)

So, here are the things that the remake did right.

  • Supporting cast! Nicole Scherzinger is an underrated treasure. She did a really good job with Penny, and seemed to be one of the only actors who understood that this movie was about a specific time and place. Debra Messing was always an excellent choice for Marje Houseman, having that same it factor that Kelly Bishop does. Well, not exactly the same, but it’s there. Katey Sagal was also there, as Mrs. Pressman, the lonely lady who’s sleeping with Johnny at the beginning, and that’s just the perfect part for her.
  • A few decent covers of the 60’s songs. Really, they were fun. Particularly I loved Scherzinger and Abigail Breslin’s “Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On.” And Sagal singing “Fever,” which didn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s the perfect song for her, so I’ll allow it.
  • Costuming Sarah Hyland. She looked uber cute in all her 60’s clothes.
  • Billy Dee Williams is in it! Always happy to see Lando!
  • The lift. I mean, it was there, it didn’t quite pack the punch, but it was there which is important.

Here are the things that were not so good.

  • There’s an overall lack of specificity that makes the original movie great. This isn’t as vague a critique as it sounds. Mary and I both noted that Debra Messing is the only cast member who seems even vaguely Jewish, and that’s sort of an important cultural context for the story. It felt weird, like if someone had made The Godfather again, and they willfully didn’t reference Italy. OK, not that bad, because the original isn’t that explicit, but it’s still WEIRD.
  • The new versions of the originals songs are not great. I don’t have “Hungry Eyes” stuck in my head today, which is bizarre, as usually anytime I watch Dirty Dancing I have “Hungry Eyes” stuck in my head for at least a week. “She’s Like The Wind,” featured exactly no saxophone, which should really be a war crime. “Time of My Life,” was OK, but the dance was underwhelming. Which we’ll get to.
  • Abigail Breslin like, really, cannot dance. And it’s a huge bummer. Especially for the finale. You should not have to cut around Baby during the finale of Dirty Dancing.
  • This Colt Prattes person is a very good dancer. He is however, not Swayze. This is not really his fault. It is his fault that he defaulted to “obnoxious jerk” rather than “protective and brooding sensitive dude.” It was a bad choice that kind of ruins Johnny Castle. Which, I mean, how dare you?
  • They felt the need to make all of the subtext text. Seriously, every character had to spell out their motivation. You don’t need to do that, whoever wrote this script. When Dr. Houseman pulls the check he wrote Robby out of his hand after learning that he was the one who got Penny pregnant, the moment speaks for itself. He does not need to make a speech about integrity and demand he pay Penny back. It’s all there. That kind of thing happened a lot.
  • Neil is actually a good guy? Or he’s not? Whatever, Neil should be a weaselly little nothing of a person, and I almost felt bad for him, and kind of wanted Baby to give him another shot?
  • The weird framing device that Baby was watching the Broadway musical version of the book she wrote about that summer, that Johnny was the choreographer, and that awkward epilogue where they see each other and were all weird? What was that? I mean, like obviously, they didn’t make it work. They came from different worlds, they had different goals, YOU DON’T NEED TO MAKE IT EXPLICIT! This is about a golden perfect moment in life. Focus on that moment.

Here are some things that were just weird.

  • They made Lisa, like a person. It was good, it was just strange. Also, I would much rather watch a movie that focused on Lisa spending her summer falling for a black dude and learning to play Bob Dylan songs on her ukelele than whatever this movie was. Like, “Yes, Baby was boinking a dance instructor and funding back alley abortions, but I was doing this other also cool thing! Let’s focus on this.” Instead it was just a strange side plot that didn’t really go anywhere.
  • The musical numbers performed by the cast. I never saw Dirty Dancing: The Musical, and I understand this choice was motivated by that, but it was confusing.
  • The final dance, and not having that great moment where Johnny leads the staff in that cool solo dance up the aisle while Baby awkwardly bops on stage. I think this might be because you can’t pull that off without Swayze.
  • Cutting Baby’s monologues. Like, why?? The scenes that replaced them were fine, but those are good speeches. Use them. At then end, when Johnny said that she was fearless, Mary and I actually started reciting, “Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of who I am, of what I did! And most of all, I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling again, for the rest of my life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

Overall? The thing was watchable, and it made me want to watch the real Dirty Dancing again, not that it takes much, but it’s not good, and not even bad enough to be fun to watch and make fun of.

Balance Is The Answer

King Arthur

I like to visit Camelot every few years. I’ve mentioned this before.

I think Guy Ritchie is one of the greatest working action directors. I’ve mentioned this before.

I’m not sure that Charlie Hunnam is actually a good actor, though I have consistently enjoyed his work. I’ve mentioned this before

So, with all of that out of the way, it should be a foregone conclusion that I really really enjoyed, King Arthur: Legend Of  The Sword. But I was  nervous going in because this movie has not been tracking well, and it made not nearly enough money last week to be considered a hit, which is a shame, because this movie is a complete and utter delight. Obviously, I knew that this movie was probably going to have my favorite stylish action of the summer but goddamn do I love how Ritchie handles fights.

From Arthur’s brawling as he grows up on the streets of Londinium to the stunning magic assisted sword fights to the incredible opening battle featuring giant elephant demons (Yup, that’s a thing. AND IT WAS AWESOME), all of the action was superbly fun. And only two of the scenes utilized slow motion.

Hunnam is kind of perfect here? I don’t know how else to say this. I’ve been onto his schtick since about season 3 of Sons of Anarchy (stare intensely at his co-stars until it’s time to shout) but it’s actually deeply effective for Arthur, and even more surprisingly, he handles the wisecracking required of a Ritchie lead miraculously.

Jude Law does well as the villain. (Arthur’s uncle Vortigan, who’s new to me.) An unnamed sorceress plays Merlin’s role (I kept waiting for someone to call her Morgan or Vivienne, but it never happened) and I squeed a bit when one of Arthur’s street buddies rose as a new knight, “Sir Tristan.” (Everyone else had their normal names, but this guy had gone by the street name “Wet Stick” the whole movie).

Overall I think it’s a bummer this movie didn’t hit because it’s a whole lot of fun, and it’s vaguely educational, because I bet some kid is going to see this movie and get into Athurian legend.

I hope so at least.

I also hope that either this or The Man From UNCLE get sequels, though that seems unlikely.

Trailers:

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Lord does that look good. The first one was so special, I hope they keep it going.

Transformers: The Last Knight: Guys, I can’t decide if I’ve just seen this trailer a bunch of times and I have stockholm syndrome, or do I actually want to see a new Transformers movie?

The Hitman’s Bodyguard: I have never heard of this movie before, and it looks PRETTY dumb, but using Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” in the trailer is genius.

Wonder Woman: We’re so close. It feels close right? Anyway, this trailer is bank, all of them have been.

Rankings:

  1. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  2. King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

Quick unrelated note: Today is the 6th Anniversary of The Fangirl’s Dilemma! A lot has changed and lot hasn’t, but thanks to everyone who’s read for the past 6 years!

Yours in love, nerdiness & girl power – Reenie

The Fall of The House of Pope

“I don’t know…every hero has one. If you don’t find it and learn to control it…well, they don’t call it fatal for nothing.” – Annabeth Chase Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Back in my former life, as an English literature student, my fellow lit majors and I would sit around and analyze things. Sometimes, this was for our homework, sometimes, it was for fun. Often it was pop culture. When it was for fun, the stuff we were analyzing tended to lean more “pop” than “culture.”

I was thinking about this last night as I watched the end of Scandal season 6, and wishing that any of my lit major friends still watched Scandal. (Crystan quit when Olivia had her Christmas abortion and Beth didn’t watch at all, I don’t think?) because as I stared in horrorjoy (an emotion I have coined specifically for the work of Shonda Rhimes.) at Olivia Pope as she smiled coyly at Cyrus Beane when he asked her how it felt to be the most powerful person in the world, I realized that we’ve been watching a tragedy, in the classical sense all along.

Olivia is ready for a fall and we know that Scandal is ending in 2 seasons, which gives Shonda and Co 40-ish episodes to end this right, with our once white hatted heroine completely and utterly destroyed.

Let’s talk about Olivia Pope, and why I think she’s actually a perfect tragic hero. We first met her six years ago, and she was uncompromised. She was the good guy, the white hat, (literally, she was melodramatically dressed in white most of the time.) ever fighting for the underdog, tortured by a love she couldn’t ever have, sure, but her conscience was clear (OR WAS IT?) but as that first season unfolded, we learned that she’d chosen, along with Mellie Grant, Cyrus, and some other people who don’t really matter now, to rig an election so that her lover could become president.

Olivia Pope

Look how innocent she was

Olivia Pope loves power, and she will do what she needs to do to grab it. Of course lots has happened since then. She’s broken up with Fitz maybe seventy times, Jake Ballard became a thing (TEAM JAKE!), she was kidnapped, she beat a wheelchair bound man to death with a chair, and she once again ascended to the White House on Grant coattails, even if these are the much more stylish and competent tails of Mellie rather than the boring and useless ones of Fitz.

 

But this finale. Here, she allied with both of her parents, her father, who is, in D&D terms, lawful evil, and her mother, who defies classification beyond, BATSHIT LOONY TOONS, in order to save Mellie’s presidency, which was never really in trouble, since it turns out Cyrus was manipulating everything. (Mary: He’s literally the devil. I’m surprised they haven’t just given him horns…) AND THEN she reinstituted B-613, and made herself Command.

She is no longer uncompromised. She is no longer the white hat. She is now the thing that she used to fight.

Which means she has to go down.

You might think it’s this lust for power that is our tragic hero’s flaw here, and it’s not. No, there are plenty of power hungry people in the Scandal pantheon and except perhaps for Elizabeth North, who was an idiot, it didn’t cause their downfall.

No, Liv’s flaw is her guilty conscience. She founded OPA to atone for Defiance. She pushed Mellie to the White House to make up for that whole stealing her husband thing. She forgave her father, well, mostly because the plot needed it, but I think it had something to do with beating Andrew to death with a chair. Hell, she missed Cyrus’s masterminding of the whole “killing Frankie Vargas,” because she felt so guilty about putting him prison (FOR A THING HE DID).

Running B-613 is going to destroy Olivia. She killed Luna Vargas (well, convinced her to commit suicide, but it amounts to the same thing.), she threatened David Rosen’s job. (IF THEY CORRUPT DAVID I WILL BE SO SAD. He is the only main cast member who has not committed murder at this point.) The guilt will eat her from the inside out and it will be her undoing.

So, I hope that this is the direction the show is going. Olivia is on top the world now, and for this show to maintain any of the goodwill it won back this season, it needs narrative direction, and the only logical narrative direction is a tragic fall.

Scandal should end with Olivia broken, possibly dead, certainly powerless.

And to give it the kind of Irony that all Tragic Heroes deserve? Huck should pull the trigger.

Or Fitz, but I think I’d rather it be Huck.

 

Dapper Day Trip: Hotel & Favorites

So this is the last post about my Dapper Day trip, and I figured I’d go into deeper detail about some of my favorite things on the trip, and talk about Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Animal Kingdom Lodge


I was really excited to stay here, and when it looked like it was going to be a solo trip, I persisted mainly because the deal I got. (Thanks to Lauren over at DVC Rental store, who has made these last two trips so great) I knew that Animal Kingdom Lodge was beautiful based on the night that Juli and I spent there on our trip, and I was really excited to stay there, and seriously, with the rented points, the whole thing cost me $750. That’s less than I paid when I stayed at the Swan the same time last year. I loved the Swan, and would definitely recommend it to people, especially if you’re looking to be in Epcot a bunch and you’re on a last minute trip.


But if you’ve got some time to plan…I don’t think I can more highly recommend staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, particularly if you want to do the points rental thing. I’ve found most of the times I’ve gone for a quote that AKL is available and the room I was in was huge. And there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of extra space, right?



I was very worried about the bus service, given the trials that we’d had at Saratoga Springs (A resort that I otherwise recommend heartily.) I was super nervous that I’d find myself late to everything and unnecesarily stressed again.

Not the case, except for the first bus to Magic Kingdom, all of them arrived in a timely fashion, and while compared to say, the Boardwalk area or Monorail resorts, yes, AKL is “out of the way,” but it truly took less than 20 minutes to get to the park every morning.

Favorites:

Restaurant:

I was ready to hand this over to Tutto Gusto, which was so exactly what I needed in it’s moment, but then Homecomin’ happened. Maybe it was the timing, but I can’t get over how good that Fried Chicken was.

Ride:

I mean, favorites are favorites, right? Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion obviously make the list, but Soarin’ really stands out as a favorite this time around. Especially the new film, which has some really remarkable scenes (I particularly liked the Taj Mahal!).

Character Meet:

I hinted at this but Tiana came up the winner this time. We had a lot of fun. There was a dance party. So, you know, winner!

Drinky Drink:

This is a tough call, because, nothing stood out to me the way the Moroccorita or the Blood Orange Margarita did in past trips but despite there being less than usual, there was some damn fine drinkin on this trip. From the Mojito to the Iced Tea Lemonade Moonshine concotion, I didn’t make any missteps, but in the end, I think I have to go with the spiked milkshake I got at Tune In Lounge. Spiked with both Vodka and Bailey’s, it was creamy, refreshing and tipsy making. Plus, the bartender there was really nice.

So that’s the Dapper Day trip!!! I had an amazing time.

Next trip is a quick weekend in September which is going to be mostly Pandora focused! I’ll be staying at Port Orleans: French Quarter, and it looks like I’m going to be joined by some super fun people, which might make it morph a little bit, but for now, it’s going to be 2 days, including a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party,

I’m also full in the the planning stage for the FALL Dapper Day, which I’ll be attending with Juli and Dom. For more about that, check out Juli’s awesome (and detailed) post about our plans so far!

See you real soon Disney Folk! We’re diving full tilt into Movie Season now. (Just in the next two weeks I’m planning to see King Arthur: Legend of The Sword, Alien: Covenant, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and a little indie, I like barely care about, called WONDER WOMAN!!!!)

 

Dapper Day Trip: Day 4: I have a bad feeling about this

I woke up bright and early on Monday morning and packed. The thing about unpacking was that it made packing super easy. Which was why I did it. I showered and got dressed and dropped my big bag off to be checked. (I love this service so much.) I then got on a bus to Studios.


The plan, such as it was, involved fastpasses for Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Rockin Roller Coaster. I rope dropped Toy Story (after a stop at Starbucks) and was on the ride by 9:02. So, I decided to walk over to Star Tours, and rode. (Imperial Droid, Kashyyk, Boba Fett, Death Star, Yavin) and then still had time to get to Tower of Terror with less than a 30 minute wait. So I did that, figuring I would double back and ride again with fastpass. I then did single rider for Rockin Rollercoaster, which means, I got my entire plan done BEFORE 10:30 AM. I was very proud of that. So, I then hopped on Tower of Terror again, and that was a bad idea.

I was feeling a little queasy, having not eaten much, I managed to make it through the ride, and managed to not throw up at all.

I know I look bored, In reality, I am trying not to vomit on that child…


I made my way back to Star Tours, and decided that I’d rather not risk it, so I settled in to watch “Path of The Jedi,” which I really, really enjoyed. Thematically tracing the saga of the Skywalkers (Including that little Punk Kylo Ren) is a different way to look at the story. I mean, not for me, who’s spent a lot of time thinking about the thematic connection between the Skywalker men. (And Rey. WHO IS A KENOBI! I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL!)

I decided to line up and watch The March of The First Order, and while this isn’t a hugely long experience it is an intense one.

It really feels like they’re invading…very cool


My stomach was still not great, so I cancelled my fastpasses and picked up two for Under The Sea & Pirates, and then headed off to Epcot to grab some lunch. I ate lunch in Epcot every day except Friday, and this time I decided to try for Chefs de France. I walked up at 11:45 and asked if I they were taking walk ups and ten minutes later I was settled in.


I ate the lobster bisque, and the goat cheese salad. And I had a glass of champagne, and I felt so much better. It was also all delicious, and effecient. Seriously, I’d read horror stories about this place so was nervous, but overall the whole thing was pleasant. I had a table in the sun room that looked over the showcase and could people watch, etc.

I also stopped by Mexico and picked up an Avocado Margarita, because going to Epcot 3 times is a weekend and NOT having a La Cava margarita should be a crime.

By 1:50 I was at Magic Kingdom, and opted out of Under The Sea, and headed right to Pirates. After that I picked up a Winnie The Pooh fastpass. After Pirates, I headed to Frontierlans to line up for Festival of Fantasy. There were dark clouds hovering over the (closed again) Splash Mountain, so the parade started 15 minutes early. This worked out, because rather than getting started at 3:00, we were done by 3:00. WOOO! I really love Festival of Fantasy and think that everyone should try to watch it.

Jiminy Cricket coming in for a hug!


My Pooh fastpass didn’t kick in until 3:25 and it was about to rain, so I hit Philharmagic, which, I hadn’t done since Juli and my trip two years ago.

I really love this movie, and I think it’s pretty wonderful. Then I rode Winnie The Pooh, which I hadn’t done in at least 10 years, and MY LORD is that ride lame. I mean, not in the “Dark Rides are Tame” kind of way. There’s not much to look at, the animatronics aren’t impressive and I now remembered why I generally skip this ride. Should have done Little Mermaid instead.

It was about 3:45 now, and I wanted to go to Disney Springs to get some early dinner/late lunch, and also, it was really threatening to rain. (It did, but not hard.) As I waited for the Disney Springs bus, I got a notification that my flight (already late, at 10PM) was delayed to midnight.

I recalibrated, decided to blow off Magical Express and still go to Disney Springs. I wandered for a bit, and realized that I was getting cranky, probably because I was hungry and tired. So I decided to eat at Homecomin’, and HOLY CRAP.

I tend to eat very well while I’m on vacation, particularly on my Disney Trips. Life’s too short to eat bad individual pizzas and chicken nuggets when you’re away from home. (Or at home, really…) but Homecomin is SO SO SO SO good. I had the fried chicken, which came with mashed potatoes (AND SAUSAGE GRAVY) and a cheddar biscuit. (AND SAUSAGE GRAVY) as well as a moonshine based iced tea cocktail, which was refreshing, delicious, and DANGEROUS.

I reiterate: SAUSAGE GRAVY


After that I decided to go back to Studios and much like “ALL THE PRINCESSES” do “ALL THE STAR WARS.” Granted, all that was left was the Launch Bay movie (meh) and meeting Kylo Ren and Chewbacca, but still. So I took a bus to the Yacht and Beach Club,  then a boat to Studios, which took a while. Finally, after my encounter with Kylo, I realized that I was definitely done.

He’s asking me to join the Dark Side…I managed to keep from shouting, “YOU MADE LEIA SAD” at him. I think it went well.


(I had also broken out into a rash, so that’s fun.) I got on the bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, changed into my airplane comfy clothes and called a Lyft to get me to airport. While I was getting INTO THE CAR, I got another text, noting that my flight was now delayed to 1:20 AM.

So while “See You Real Soon,” hit, I knew that I needed a back up plan.

So…I decided to get a cheap hotel room by the airport, so that I could sleep a little and take a shower. I wound up in a Spring Hill Suites and showered, watched Veep and Silicon Valley and did indeed nap a little. While I understand some people might baulk at the idea of a $90 shower, it was a necessity. Back at the airport, I glided through security and then onto the plane, where I had a row to myself, and thus was able to sleep the whole plane ride.

And that was the trip! I really enjoyed it, and next week, I’m going to do a round up that includes more details about the hotel, my favorites and the things I think might not be worth your time.

See you real soon!

This Unspoken Thing

Guardians 2

Happy Movie Season You Guys!

I think this is the first “official” movie season that actually started on May The 4th.

If you’re new around here, let me explain.

Movie Season is the Blockbuster release time, between May and December. The rule of thumb is that it reaches from Marvel to Star Wars. (Previously, Marvel to Hobbit)

This year’s first Marvel Studios release was the highly anticipated Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2.

One of the many things that made Guardians Of The Galaxy the delight that it was, was the surprise factor. It’s humor, it’s space opera action and that soundtrack all caught everyone off guard. Volume 2 doesn’t have that out of left field leg up, instead has the handicap of expectation. This worried me a little, thinking their might be an Iron Man 2 effect, where the loss of the surprise makes the whole thing feel sloppy.

Not the case. Rather than rehash, James Gunn has built on the foundation he placed 2 years ago. My main complaint about Guardians was always that for a team film, it is woefully unbalanced, giving priority to Star Lord and Rocket, which is fine, but shortchanges Drax and Gamora in a big way, which is a bummer, because those characters are fun, and Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana are fantastic.

Volume 2 balances things a little bit better. The team is split up for a large chunk of the run time, placing Rocket and Groot with Guardian frenemy Yondu, and Gamora, Star Lord and Drax with her sister Nebula, Peter’s father Ego, The Living Planet, and adorable new comer Mantis.

The team relationships are well defined, and the chemistry based but “unspoken” romance between Peter Quill and Gamora is actually very touching. And there’s something to the theme of family of choice, and biological family, or structural family (In the case of Gamora and Nebula) and the ways they intersect and fight with one another.

Visually, the movie is bright, interestingly designed and of course, the soundtrack very very interesting yet again. (You’ll never thing of “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” the same way again. And it makes excellent use of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” as well as “Surrender.”)

It was also the first Marvel Movie that Aless and I could think of that quickly and breezily passed the Bechdel-Wallace test. (A scene between Gamora and Nebula where they discuss Gamora’s plan for her sister does it.) So good job!

Rankings:

  1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2

Trailers:

Not Wonder Woman.

Dunkirk, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Pirates, yes, but not Wonder Woman.