Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review: A Triumphant End.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are among my favourite heroes in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 
Vol. 1 was a fantastic introduction to these characters, and I believe that Vol. 2 is one of the most underrated MCU films.
So, obviously, I was very excited to watch Vol. 3, especially because I had genuine hope that it would be better than a lot of the more recent MCU installments, which I have felt pretty lukewarm about.
I am happy to say that this hope was well founded because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a triumphant ending for the characters we have come to know and love ever since Vol. 1, all the way back in 2014.

The ending for each Guardian feels fitting.

Directed once again by James Gunn, the movie follows Peter Quill’s Starlord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Deisel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who are living at their home base of Knowhere.
After an attack from Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) leaves Rocket clinging to life, the Guardians must band together once more.
Seeking the help of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the group seek to track down Rocket’s creator the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), to find a way to save him.
Each of the Guardians gets their time to shine in this movie, with standout moments for each of them.
In particular it was great to see how much Nebula has changed from the first film, how the friendship between Drax and Mantis has progressed, and how different Gamora is from her future counterpart, along with how this affects her relationship with Quill.   

It would have been easy to go a cliche route with Quill and Gamora’s relationship after Endgame but I am glad they did not.

The biggest standout of all the Guardians, however, is Rocket, with a large part of the film focusing on his backstory, with constant flashbacks.
Given the number of these flashbacks, it would have been easy for the film to feel disjointed so it is a testament to the writing and the directing that it all flows seamlessly.
It felt like Vol. 2 was slowly transitioning the main character among the Guardians from Starlord to Rocket, and Vol. 3 continues this in excellent fashion.
Rocket’s story is so good in this movie that I actually almost teared up at one point, and this was a scene with multiple CGI characters so that is saying something about the quality. 

Prepare for Rocket’s backstory to destroy you emotionally.

Alongside Rocket, the main villain of the High Evolutionary also stands out.
The guy is a fantastic example of how to do a purely evil villain with no redeeming qualities right. 
And, hey, the High Evolutionary being so evil makes it even more satisfying when the Guardians fight his goons in numerous excellent action sequences, including a gripping one-shot corridor fight that is one of the movie’s highlight scenes.

The corridor fight is the MCU’s best fight scene in years.

Another thing to highlight is just how dark this movie can get at times, with a lot of cruelty to animals so there is that to be aware of.
That does not mean the film is devoid of levity; this is a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, after all.
There are plenty of feel goods moments and humor throughout.
Speaking of the humor though, I do have to say that it thankfully does not ruin any potentially emotional scenes, like it did in Quantimania and Love and Thunder.  
Not everything about Vol. 3 is so great though because, if the film has one issue then it is definitely Adam Warlock. 

Adam Warlock’s presence in the movie felt more like an obligation than anything else.

His addition to this film honestly felt entirely unnecessary to me.
Not only could he have been any other character and the plot of the movie would not have changed, but his actions also seemed pretty contradictory at times.
It feels like James Gunn intended for him to have a big role in Vol. 3 but then he got fired and rehired and, in the time in between that, he came up with a different plot for the film but was obligated to keep Warlock in because of the Vol. 2 post credits scene.
Apart from Warlock, though, I would say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a great film with a triumphant ending for its characters.
It is easily the best MCU film since Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

The Suicide Squad Review: James Gunn Knows What He’s Doing.

My opinion on the Suicide Squad movie from 2016 has changed a lot over the years.
When I first saw the trailers for it, I became intrigued by the premise of supervillains being forced to go on covert government operations, so I made sure to read all the comics I could before the film released.
So, when it actually came out, I was already hyped for it and this hype really blinded me about the film’s quality at the time.
I was pretty much in denial and told plenty of people that I thought the film was good.
However, even though years have passed and multiple rewatches allowed me to finally realize the film’s many, many, many faults, it is still a guilty pleasure of mine and I do still think there are good things about it. 

Everyone has a guilt pleasure movie and Suicide Squad (2016) is definitley mine.

So, I was naturally excited for the film’s loosely based sequel, this time titled The Suicide Squad (because that’s not confusing at all), directed by James Gunn.
The only movies of Gunn’s that I have seen are his Guardians of the Galaxy films and I love those, so I was interested to see what Gunn would do with what was obviously going to be a more comedic take on the titular Suicide Squad, although a dark comedic take at that.
What was reassuring to know coming into the film was that Gunn had complete freedom, unlike Suicide Squad 2016’s director David Ayer whose vision for the film was ripped apart in the editing room.
And you know what?
James Gunn naturally pulled it off.
The Suicide Squad is a much better film that its 2016 counterpart, delivering on plenty of exciting, funny, dark, and sometimes even emotional moments with style.
The plot follows Task Force X, who are tasked by the ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to infiltrate the fictional country of Corto Maltese and bring an end to the mysterious Project Starfish.

Viola Davis was the perfect casting choice for Amanda Waller in the original Suicide Squad so I was glad to see her return and be just as ruthless.

Leading this version of the squad is Robert DuBois, AKA Bloodsport (Idris Alba), an assassin who put Superman in the ICU with a Kryptonite bullet, and becomes a part of Task Force X’s latest mission to protect his daughter.
So, he’s basically Deadshot.
Despite the two characters being extremely similar, though, I actually do prefer Bloodsport with this film because the bond with his daughter is much more interesting, even with only one scene, and his character arc is actually pretty great.

Bloodsport’s character development in this film is stellar, with him being quite different at the end of the film from how he began.

The rest of the Squad in this film is just as interesting.
We have the ironically named Peace Maker (John Cena), the extrememly messed up Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), the kind hearted thief Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and the man eating, yet loveable idiot King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone).
Also returning from the previous film is Margot Robbie who is still perfectly cast as Harley Quinn, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg.
I would like to signal out Flagg in particular because, even though I do find enjoyment in the original Suicide Squad film, Flagg was not one of these enjoyable things, being quite a bland character.
Well, in The Suicide Squad, this version of Flagg is ten times better, with a fantastic character arc that really made me care for him, hence the emotional parts of the film I mentioned previously.

I never expected to actually like Flagg coming into the film so I was pleasantly surprised with how his character development was handled.

Along with the emotion, another feature this movie pulls off excellently is the comedy, especially the gags of the dark variety.
I burst out into uncomfortable laughter on numerous occasions.
This is easily one of the funniest movies of the year.
It is the characters and their journey that really brings it all togethor though.
I remember back in the first Suicide Squad where one of the characters talked about them being a family, even though they had just met and didn’t really have that much of a bond by that point.
By the end of this film, however, I felt the comradery between the characters completley and wanted to see where they would go in a future film.
How likely this is, I’m not sure because the movie apparently bombed, most likely based off the reputation of its predecessor and, you know… Covid.
That said, I hope the studios see the positive reactions to this film and realize there is a great potential for sequels.
James Gunn did a fantastic job breathing a comedically dark life into The Suicide Squad and I hope to see more of it the future.

Brightburn Review: Trailers Spoil Another Film.

3 stars
The first trailer of Brightburn had me dead set on seeing the film.
A horror movie about an evil kid Superman?
Sign me up.
Every subsequent trailer served to get me more and more interested in the film but little did I know that those trailers spoiled the entire film.
If you want to go see Brightburn but have not seen the trailers then I seriously recommend you do not watch them.
One of the them even goes as far as to spoil the ending of the movie, which is about as bad as you can get with these spoiler trailers.
I wonder when whoever makes these things is going to realise that you do not need to spoil audiences to get them into seats.
Look at movies like Shazam and Avengers: Infinity War.
The trailers for those films revealed very little about what would happen, and they did great at getting the audiences hyped for them.
It is a shame because I think I would have enjoyed Brightburn a lot more than I did if I had not been spoiled by those trailers.

Brightburn trailer.jpg
As Brightburn neared its end, I realised a shot from the trailers had not been in the film yet, making me realise how the film would end, which ruined the experience for me. 

Also despite what they would have you believe, James Gunn did not direct this film.
It is actually directed by David Yarovesky and written by Gunn’s brothers Mark and Brian.
As I said, the movie is about an evil child with the powers of superman, played in a creepy performance by Jackson A. Dunn.
That is one of the things I liked about Brightburn, the performances.
Everyone does a great job, especially the kid’s parents played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, who really sell their relationship.
This makes it all the scarier when things get going and people start dying, in brutal fashion I must add.
I honestly did not expect Brightburn to be as gory as it is.
There were multiple times where I had to look away because of how disgusting it was.
The writers definitely took every opportunity to use the kid’s superpowers to create unique and violent deaths.
The third act is full of gore fueled scares that keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, the movie does have its faults.
The biggest for me is the boy, Brandon Breyer, himself.
His character seems to flip-flop a bit in terms of motivation.
One minute he is a boy serial killer with super human powers, and the next he is saying he wants to do good.
Honestly, hearing him say he wants to be good after he has sadistically murdered dozens of innocent people is very jarring.

serial killer super kid.jpg
Brandon Beyer is basically a serial killer with super powers, so it is weird how he says he wants to be good after committing horrible murder after horrible murder.

I also was not exactly sure why he was doing these terrible things.
Was it because he had been taken over by the force that sent him to earth, or was it because he’s just a psychopath?
There is also one plot point concerning Breyer’s crush on a girl at school, and its horrifying consequences, which is dropped like a hammer.
But, overall, Brightburn is still a decent film with good performances and some scary moments.
Although, if you have seen the trailers there is no point in going to see it because you will already know what is going to happen.