Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – Movie Review

The Guardians of the Galaxy return to the big screen to prove they are more than just misfits prepared to save the galaxy. In Volume 2, the Guardians prove that they need to be a family to save the galaxy.

Release Date: May 5, 2017
Writer: James Gunn
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 starts a few months after the events of the first film. Our brood of heroes, Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are hired as the Guardians to protect a power set of batteries from an inter-dimensional monster. The batteries power the race of conceited aliens known as the Sovereign.

As payment, the Guardians take custody of Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), but as their leaving Rocket steals the very batteries that they were hired to protect. Here starts a series of plots and sub-plots, the main one being the meeting of Peter Quill’s father played by Kurt Russell, who brings Peter, Gamora and Drax to his home planet. For comic book fans, this planet is Ego, the living planet. They also meet Mantis (Elizabeth Debicki), who serves Ego. She has empathic powers.

The other subplots include Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his gang of Ravagers. Yondu has been kicked out of the Ravagers because he betrayed the other clans in the first film. Yondu is then hired by the Sovereign to hunt down the Guardians and return the batteries, but Yondu also had a mutiny on his hands when one of his officers Tazer Face (Pom Klementieff) no longer believes Yondu can effectively act as leader.

While in custody, Nebula plots to get the upper hand on Gamora and ultimately kill her and then her father, Thanos. Rocket continues his own brand of self-destructive and self-loathing behavior and then there’s Baby Groot, who wants to grow up and become a warrior, but he’s only a baby.

There is a lot going on in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2. You can already see there is literally a shipload of old and new characters. There are about four storylines going on at the same time. Writer/Director James Gunn masterfully manages to keep the storylines interesting and followable which could have easily unraveled at any point.

The main story between Quill and Ego is not the strongest of stories and unfortunately, it is the main spine of the movie. Their relationship feels more like a morality episode of Star Trek. It feels very over-and-done by the end of the movie.

As much as this is a large galactic action movie, the best moments in Guardians are the moments the main characters spend together. Clearly, there is a Sam-and-Diane relationship brewing between Quill and Gamora. So-much-so that Quill calls it out as a Cheers-inspired romance. Drax and Mantis have an opposite relationship, which will make your head spin. Maybe, the sisterly conflict between Gamora and Nebula feels a little forced.

The tone of Guardians of the Galaxy is light, a little gruesome and stands outside the seriousness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Earth. But this movie is funny and the rollercoaster of action you expect it to be. For a long movie, the pacing is fast and because it is packed with so much plot, characters and action, you leave wanting more. Finally, please stay to the end of the credits.

 

 

Cardinal X – Geek Lab Interview with Writer/Director Angie Wang

Cardinal X is the story of a damaged Asian American girl from the wrong side of the tracks is accepted into a prestigious university, only to succumb to her personal demons. She begins synthesizing MDMA and becomes one of the largest distributors of Ecstasy during the mid-1980’s. Inspired by true events from writer/director Angie Wang.

Alan Ng from the Geek Lab spoke with Angie Wang during the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. We spoke about her film and the filmmaking process.

Cardinal X stars Annie Q as Annie and Francesca Eastwood as Jeanine.

 

The Frida Cinema Presents ‘The Seventh Art Stand’ and Other Anti-Islamophobia Films

From Monday, May 8 through Sunday, May 14, The Frida Cinema will be joining over 50 cinemas across the U.S. in The Seventh Art Stand, a nationwide screening series presented by cinemas, museums, and community centers in 25 states, as an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia. These films highlight many of the issues faced by the Muslim community, as well as the Middle Eastern community in general, both in the Middle East and in the United States, and will range from dramas to documentaries to short films.

Organized by distribution company Abramorama, independent Seattle film arts center the Northwest Film Forum, and writer/director/political organizer Vivian Hua, the Seventh Art Stand calls on the “seventh art of Cinema” (the other six being Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Poetry, Dance, and Performance) to do its part to share some of the stories, histories, and culture captured by filmmakers around the world about Middle Eastern communities and the Islamic faith, at a time when the “Muslim Ban” and other policies and political narratives have led to an increase in disinformation, and ultimately, violent actions against Muslims, and individuals from the Middle East in general.

Doris Yeung Interview – Writer/Director of ‘Taxi Stories’

Taxi Stories is an entrant in the Narrative category of the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

In an increasingly economically polarized and virtually connected 24 hour Asia, a closeted Beijing taxi driver, a pregnant Hong Kong trophy wife, and a Jakarta underage bajaj driver struggle to connect despite the constraints of their social class.

From the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Alan Ng speaks with writer/director Doris Yeung about her film, Taxi Stories and the independent filmmaking process.

Joyce Wong Interview – Writer/Director of ‘Wexford Plaza’

Wexford Plaza screens in the Narrative category of the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Synopsis – Nineteen-year-old Betty (Reid Asselstine) toils as a nighttime security guard at a suburban strip mall. Trying to stave off loneliness with failed bids at cyber-flirtation and drunken escapades with co-workers, Betty meets and falls for Danny (Darrel Gamotin), a well-meaning Filipino-American bartender. Danny, a bit lost himself, welcomes her attention, and his mixed signals sets off a series of events that would leave them both worse for wear.

Alan Ng interviews Joyce Wong (Writer/Director) of Wexford Plaza. Her film is showing at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.