Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3
EXPECTING Vin Diesel to deliver more than three words of dialogue is a stretch.
One of the many genius decisions of Guardians Of The Galaxy was to have the superstar provide the voice of a walking tree who only ever says “I am Groot”.
Even more leftfield was casting blue-eyed heart-throb Bradley Cooper as the voice of a hard-boiled talking raccoon called Rocket.
For me, though, the pair have always been the main attraction of this Marvel comic book adaptation.
They shoot first and don’t ask questions later.
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So, this third and supposedly final outing of the sci-fi heroes led by Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill deserves kudos for putting Rocket at the centre of the story.
The mystery of how this no-nonsense raccoon learned to speak was a piece of the Guardians puzzle that I was more than happy to have revealed.
The furry hero remembers his past while on life support — and Rocket can’t be his grouchy best while unconscious.
Thankfully, the mission to save him is an action-packed blast set to the year’s best soundtrack.
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Director James Gunn’s outlandish ideas include Counter Earth, a planet that looks like our own, except it is populated by talking animals.
It is full of so much blink-and-you-miss-it humour that I’d like to watch Guardians 3 again.
None of this could work without the characters whose flaws are played up for comic effect by judicious pairings.
Quill’s ego is regularly demolished by Zoe Saldana’s deadpan Gamora, the “kill everyone” attitude of Dave Bautista’s Drax contrasts perfectly with the empathy of Pom Klementieff’s Mantis and Sean Gunn’s not-too-bright Kraglin is jealous of his super-smart dog Cosmo (Maria Bakalova).
They are bolstered by the addition of two excellent baddies.
Will Poulter is Adam Warlock, whose brawn is let down by his immature brain, and Chukwudi Iwuji is a psychotic scientist with a God complex.
But the emotional impact of attempting to rescue the loveable raccoon is diluted by the lives of far too many cute characters being at risk at the climax.
Sometimes it’s better not to do or say too much.
I Am Groot.
- Grant Rollings
THIS dramatisation of the life of war poet and author Robert Graves is a superficially titillating endeavour.
Written and directed by William Nunez, it begins after Graves has returned from World War One with post-traumatic stress and writer’s block.
Actor Tom Hughes knows how to play the sensitively dashing type.
But this story doesn’t really challenge him to deliver the poet’s introspective struggle to create.
Instead, it focuses on the extramarital affairs sparked by the arrival of an American literary critic and poet.
At his invitation, and that of his illustrator wife Nancy (Laura Haddock), Laura Riding (Dianna Agron) arrives from New York and immediately stirs up a storm.
She becomes his muse and lover but the film only skims the surface of the misogyny and sexism she receives from male literary figures.
Instead it makes her more of a femme fatale stereotype and focuses on her manipulative, dangerous behaviour.
There’s lots of naked female bodies, and girl-on-girl action, yet no man-on-man, despite Graves’s noted bisexuality.
Ultimately, The Laureate is a surface-level entry point into the tumultuous life of one of our greatest artists.
Return To Seoul
IF you’re looking for a gut-punch of a character study, then Return To Seoul is just the messy, identity crisis of a drama for you.
But this intimate portrait of a woman caught between cultures is, refreshingly, anything but a melodrama.
Freddie (Park Ji-min) is an impulsive French woman returning to Korea for the first time since she was adopted at birth by white parents.
She quickly makes friends with French-speaking locals but when the chance to meet her biological parents arises, her carefree spirit is confronted by some hard truths.
Park’s face does so much of the talking as we watch Freddie both turn away and face up to her dual heritage.
Director Davy Chou allows the camera to patiently watch her react, take in, feel and mask all her conflicting feelings.
She’s as mesmirising as the beautifully charged Korean backdrop.
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At times, the scene throbs with bold red, anarchic energy; elsewhere, a moment recedes with pale regret.
It is a triumphant reflection of a brilliantly complex woman navigating the vast distance in her identities to make herself whole.
- THE Last Of Us actor Pedro Pascal will join director Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel.
- A FOLLOW-UP to Ben Stiller’s Dodgeball is in the works.
- ROB DELANEY will return to his role as Peter in Deadpool 3.
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