Tag Archives: Zoe Saldana

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.



Star Trek Beyond – Movie Review

The new Kirk and crew must figure out the secret of the evil Krall before he destroys the Federation.

Release Date: July 29, 2016
Writer: Simon Pegg
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idiris Elba

The film picks up with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise already three years into its five-year mission. Kirk is growing weary of one diplomatic mission after another and is considering retiring from the monotony of space travel. Spock (Zachary Quinto), on the other hand, has his thoughts focused on the remaining members of his species. After receiving bad news from New Vulcan, Spock is also considering retiring to help with the proliferation of his people.

The setting of Star Trek Beyond is the massive space station, known as Yorktown. Created inside a protective sphere, this space “city” holds millions of people from a vast variety of alien races, which comprise the current Federation of Planet.

Trouble stirs when an alien ship approaches the space station and its captain requests the help of the Enterprise to rescue its crew abandoned on the other side of the nearby nebula. With Federation approval, the Kirk and crew agree with assist with the rescue and upon arrival the crew finds itself in the middle of a sneak attack from the villain Krall (Idris Elba). Forced to abandon ship, the Enterprise crew is separated. They must find away to regroup, figure out who Krall is and how to return to the Yorktown and warn them of Krall’s plans.

Star Trek Beyond gets the crew of the Enterprise beyond its origins highlighted in the first two films. It shows the new crew of the Enterprise fully engaged in the original mission of the series of seeking out new worlds and civilizations. Star Trek Beyond’s main plot is an attack on that mission. It starts with Captain Kirk trying to broker peace between two warring species and ends with Krall trying to put an end to the growing expansion of the Federation.

Star Trek movies have succeeded when the film are not 2-hour episodes, but more an action adventure with high stakes. They work when the consequences of failure are dire. For Star Trek Beyond, they’ve succeeded in finding the balance and creating a high-stakes, high-adventure, 2-hour episode. Writer Simon Pegg uses the attack on the Enterprise to split the crew up and force the volatile pairings of Kirk/Chekhov/Scotty, McCoy/Spock and Uhura/Sulu to grow, develop and work together to overcome their impossible situation.

The strength of the successful Star Trek movies, including this one, have always been the crew. When most of the film focuses solely Shatner or Stewart, it fails because, as fans, we love the individual members and want to see everyone get their fair chance at saving the universe.

Star Trek Beyond also succeeds because the story is clover, the action makes sense for the most part and the nostalgic reasons we love Star Trek are also there. I also like that we’re finally engaged in the voyages of the starship Enterprise.

Star Trek is a good film and should appeal to casual fans and Trekkies alike. There are only two moments that fell flat. The first is the opening sequence, when Kirk is brokering peace between two alien cultures. The moment is basically a comedic gag and played solely for laughs. Yes, it was funny, but that is the wrong tone to start a Star Trek film. It presents the movie as a comedy right off the bat, when film is clearly meant to be more than light fun.

The second moment is the first attack on the Enterprise by Krall. The segment just went on too long. Director Justin Lin tells a great story here, but the entire attack segment just won’t end. The action sequence feels like it goes on forever and you have to let audiences breathe once in a while.

Overall, Star Trek Beyond has found a place on the mantle of Star Trek movies. What’s missing is a sense of importance that the best Star Trek movies have to the Star Trek universe. Star Trek Beyond is fun but not profound.