Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Spoiler free –

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Plot: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Well. I knew I had to get to cinema to watch Infinity War immediately after its release or else risk this film being spoiled by the internet for me. We’ve been waiting ages since the slightly lacklustre Age of Ultron for another instalment of the all powerful Marvel ensemble cast to once again fight some massive celestial being. Finally reunited, the Avengers and all their new superhero friends are forced to take on Thanos, the biggest and baddest of them all, who is also in running for the worst dad of all time to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), is collecting the Infinity Stones, very powerful stones (obviously), and you don’t need a comic book background to know that it will be really bad when this genocidal maniac gets hold of all six stones. It’s no spoiler that some of the stones are in the possession of a few Avengers, and they do an ultimately dismal job in protecting them. You will have to watch it if you want to know what happens at the end, but it was neither comfortable nor a quietly satisfying end.

Infinity War takes an age to get their superheroes together, which is not surprising, since they decided to include a massive amount of their star power in the film. Since Age of Ultron the original Avengers have scattered and hidden, and they aren’t all super happy with each other. Tony (Robert Downey Jnr.) is still happy by being managed by Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still dealing with the devastating destruction that happened in Thor: Ragnarok. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson, this time blonde), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, with deliciously longer hair) and Sam Wilson (Anthonie Mackie) are still (I think) in hiding. They all fall in at different stages of the film, and my sold out cinema was cheering as each original Avengers cast member was reintroduced.

It’s impossible to write a short and concise review of the movie and to discuss the stars, because (nearly) the entire Marvel universe is in the film. However, here are a few thoughts on some of the characters:

Vision (Paul Bettany) comes across as awfully wimpy and I don’t know how he was intended as a superhero in this film. He seems to just be there, and his moments of action aren’t all that action packed.

If I could have had more of Danai Gurira as Okoye I would have, because she just has the best attitude and lines. Also good seeing T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), but after the enormous success of Black Panther I would have loved to see more of the man.

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It is the first film where the Three Chris-es are combined – Pratt, Evans and Hemsworth have so much charm between them it is a wonder that they aren’t combined an Infinity stone themselves. There is delightful moments full of humour when Starlord meets Thor and needs to deal with all that muscle. I’ll just say that there is a moment when Thor arrives that made me very, very thankful.

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Thanos has character depth, and that is something that hasn’t always been present with Marvel villains. He has layers and there are times when he actually almost makes sense, his reasoning behind his warlord status. There were a few moments where I legitimately felt sorry for him, and then had to remember what he had done.

I have some issues with the ending (really, who doesn’t at this stage?). I don’t want to say too much, but I really hope that they are planning to address some… events… in the next Infinity War instalment (there better be one), because they can not just do what they did. I am REALLY excited for the post credits scene, and I am optimistic that that will mean something overall for the drama levels in the last ten minutes of the film.

I liked Infinity War, except that ending. Thee CGI is insane and everywhere again, and that as well comes as no surprise – I mean, Josh Brolin doesn’t really look like that, does he now? It is really long, again though, expected, and full of emotional upheaval. If you haven’t watched it yet and you really dislike spoilers, I suggest getting to a cinema soon. It’s a bit off the normal route for Marvel, and they’ve taken big risks, but if you look at the crowd response rate you can rest assured that Marvel has another hit on their hands.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: Star Trek (2009)

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Plot: The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father’s legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

JJ Abrams is a fine modern science fiction director.  He’s been behind the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Fringe and Armageddon to name only a few. He’s also the creator for Alias (2001-2006), which as I slowly progress through the series impresses me even further. It’s not his best work, but it shows the variety of fields to which he can apply himself to.

2009 feels like yesterday, though it is almost – gasp – ten years ago now. Star Trek was successfully rebooted by JJ, and a clever tactic of combining old with new worked out particularly well. Starring Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimroy, the reboot is entertaining. I’ll inform you that I’m not as versed in Star Trek as I should be, yet I didn’t feel as if I was lacking information and could follow without too much prior knowledge.

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The decision to cast Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk is only questionable until you witness him in the role. He is charming, cocky, reckless and brave and he is pivotal in the success of this remake.  Leonard Nimroy provides substantial impact, and seeing him return as an older version of Spock was surely a big moment for established fans. Zachary Quinto embodies what I always imagined of Spock – like I said my knowledge here is rudimentary – but I thought he did a great job. He is also able to portray the level of feelings Spock experience, even though his race is seemly unfeeling. I enjoyed the blatant dislike Spock had in Kirk, and how that changed throughout the film to becoming first a grudging admiration and then a tentative friendship.

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The film is quite long, but it also doesn’t feel stretched out. There is naturally a time where they set up the film, and to get everyone on the same page. It provides enough insight into the characters and the events so that the film can progress at a good pace and get to the plot as it should. I wouldn’t call the story a generic one, as it is littered with interesting information, races, visuals and action, but as a Sci-Fi we have all heard the tale of planets being wiped out and its terrestrial force seeking (somewhat uncalled for) vengeance. The end is also just slightly convenient and quick, but overall not something that deducts from the experience of the film. I know it kept me entertained throughout, which is quite the feat these days as everything seems to bore me.

I am ready to venture more deeply into the world of Star Trek, starting with the newer films and someday going back to the older ones.

Rating: 8/10

Watched, Read, Loved: October 2017

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My battle cry should be: “What a Month!”. 2017 in particular has felt like a whirlwind. Every month, so busy, so rushed. Work has been mad. Growing career wise is exhausting. There have been a number of unpleasantness in my team – people resigning, a sexual harassment case (super happy to report that my esteem for my company rose with how they handled the matter), and naturally just the normal amount of pettiness, drama, laziness and idiocy I’ve come to expect from working professionals. However, that said, some demented part of me enjoys working in such a difficult environment. It is enormously satisfying when people bend to your will, see your point, praise your efforts and start acting less like two year olds. I’m probably going to go crazy while doing it, but man, what a ride.

Some things are stressing me out still – waiting for my final results to get my degree is one particular one, and my University is as relaxed about releasing results as they usually are. It is so frustrating to be on a cliff, waiting for an answer, so close to the finish line. That and the course was pretty damn hard, so I am STRESSED. One moment I am convinced I passed and the next moment I’m sure I failed. I’m not the most pleasant person to be around right now, of that I can assure you.

I am also planning my oldest sister’s baby shower. She’s married with a baby on the way; I applaud myself when I comb my hair in the morning. These are the paths we take. However, planning an event is something that always stresses me out – I am such a perfectionist and if I don’t feel something is nice, I get really grumpy. With that is all the baby things too – stressing me out, because my ovaries are going to die soon (I might remove that sentence, I might not). Looking at children in the mall and wondering why anyone would put up with that is what I think of the most, yet at the same time there is something to be said about leaving a legacy. But I also like having my entire salary to myself, and let me tell you, pregnancy seems to come with many ailments that makes me want to revise my previous notion that pregnancy isn’t a sickness.

To load more on my plate, I’ve literally started loading things off my plate. That’s right – I’m at the “healthy lifestyle” game again. It’s a pretty pompous term, but I enjoy using it and it is certainly a better one than the word diet. I’m taking it very basic – cutting out most carbs and eating veggies and protein, with lots of water. I don’t drink any sugar carbonated drinks, so that isn’t a problem, but I do consume copious amounts of Coke Light. Working on lessening that too, as my primary objective is living as clean as possible and not consuming pseudo junk. I like to think I’ve become a regular at our local Parkrun, my total tally of walks is now somewhere around ten. I’ve even done one on my own, because I’ve realized that fitness and companionship aren’t always something that can happen at the same time. So far I’ve lost 3kg, which is obviously slower than I’d like, but it is a consistent trend downwards that makes me happy. I am also sleeping better and feeling more alert, which are two things I desperately needed.

So after an entire dialogue about all my problems, here’s what went down entertainment wise this month.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017): This was one of the big ones I wanted to see. My darling favorite superhero returned to the big screen, and I was ready. Thor has never been my favorite franchise of Marvel, but on a science level it has always worked really well. This time around Waititi joined in to direct (and star), and I actually watched it TWO times in cinema – super super rare for me. The second watch did highlight some issues – some of the pacing is off, especially by Tessa Thompson, but it was still so much fun that I am not willing to alter the 8.5/10 I gave it.

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It was also Halloween month, so I picked up Hocus Pocus for the very first time in my life. It was okay, I’ve definitely seen worse and better, but I did enjoy the drama of the three witches and how excellently they acted it out.

Dis Koue Kos, Skat, was my Afrikaans feature for the month. Think Eat, Pray, Love, with less praying (and travelling). Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe, a South-African film legend, stars in this excellent film as a newly divorced woman settling into her new life. I had  a lot of fun with it.

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Lego: Ninjago movie (2017) – This was October as well?! October WAS a long month! I had a lot more fun with this than I thought I would, which is saying something.

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Star Trek (2009) – it took me nearly ten years to watch this, and I am happy that I finally did. Review coming soon.

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I kept it pretty simple this month with reading, revisiting the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. It’s simple reading, perfect for stressful days where you just need a bit of chill and sexy vampires.

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The real reason for the little amount of movie watching that went down can be pinned to Spartacus. I finally started the series. It’s pretty good despite awful dialogue, though just not one of the shows to watch with your parents / child. EVER.

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What have you been up to this month?

Read, Watched, Loved: May 2017

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Hey everybody! This post is going up super late this month – I was happily scheduling away on here and didn’t notice that I still hadn’t put this guy up. So as usual, here’s my monthly rundown (but for May). Let me know what you’ve seen and haven’t seen, and just generally how you are 🙂

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) I don’t think anyone was able to hate this film. It was buckets of fun, and I really have such a soft spot for Baby Groot (who doesn’t?). It is similar to the first film but bigger and more of the formula that worked. The plot wasn’t as solid as the first, but I was able to have a fantastic time regardless of that.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005)I liked this movie so much that when I wanted to initially write a quick blurb for here I ended up writing out the review. It is a wonderful film. I am now convinced I need a Mr. Darcy. He’s difficult and worth it. The adaption is fantastic and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

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Sweet home Alabama (2002) – I watched this as a young person – maybe at around 21 years or so, and really enjoyed it. I have such love for Reese Witherspoon, she truly is a beautiful and talented woman. Her character has the terrible task of choosing between Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey, and this movie has humor and heart to it.

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Jackie Brown (1997) I watched this for Tom and Mark’s Decades Blogathon.It is one of the few Tarantino films I hadn’t seen as yet, and found it a great pleasure to watch.

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The Host (2013) – I just had to watch this film again to compare source material to it. It is not as unforgivably bad as the internet make it out to be, and I had a rather enjoyable time watching it.

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice is a slow read, that is no lie, but I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful, wonderful book with many events and excellent character development. It also gave me yet another book hero to attach strongly to.

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Three Fates – Nora Roberts: I reviewed this before and seemed to have a good thing to say about it. Strange, because I don’t remember loving it so much. I am having a really good time rereading it again though, it is truly Nora Roberts and some good and light reading.

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The Host – Stephanie Meyer: I’m not sure whether the I was a masochist or just seeking enjoyment without thinking too much about it, but I decided to pick up The Host again. It is okay and certainly better than Meyer’s previous novels. It raises some moral questions and has interesting theories despite some slow parts.

What did you do this month?

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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Plot: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

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The Original Guardians of the Galaxy was celebrated far and wide as original, refreshing and pretty much different from any normal Marvel film. I mean we love them, but they aren’t necessarily ground breaking in the stories they tell. I agreed mostly, but I also still felt that everyone and their grannies took the hype too far. Regardless of my opinion, the first film was a runaway success and since it is Marvel, a second one was inevitable.

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The sequel is in many ways an equal to original. Chris Pratt is Chris Pratt and the lovable and very attractive goofball. He is still surrounded by his team – Gamora (Zoë Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). They acquire more recruits this time – Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). It is starting to feel like the Space Avengers with such a large cast going on here, but I very much doubt that the majority of the audience worries about that too much.

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Plenty of things work – Dave Bautista’s literal minded Drax gets more dialogue and the things he says is what we think without saying it, making the situations he’s placed in quite hilarious. Telling the creepy Mantis she’s probably beautiful on the inside was quite funny and painfully blunt. Baby Groot is emotional manipulation – he’s so cute he could have danced the duration of the film and I would have liked the movie. Chris Pratt loses his shirt and I couldn’t complain about it. The directing is colorful and bright and suits the upbeat tone of the film. The dialogue is relatable and funny, the banter between the team easy and seemingly sincere. The soundtrack is a lot of fun and a continuation of the first film. Sylvester Stallone shows his face and boggles the mind that he’s still looking smoking when he is six hundred years old now.

What lacks is an actual plot. The writers focused on the one thing left unanswered in Volume 1 – Starlord’s patronage. Enter Kurt Russel, cool old-dude extraordinaire, as Ego the Living Planet. He’s not much of a villain with a lot of ego and little grey areas, and it is pretty clear quite quickly that he doesn’t want the best for his son. There are also gold people, led by Elizabeht Debicki’s Kismet, who are angry that Rocket stole shit from them and are now determined to wipe out the team. It’s a pretty weak story, sloppy in places and lazy writing. It doesn’t particularly fit into the Marvel Universe that has so carefully been crafted. Some redemption is provided by the presence of Baby Groot, the fights between Starlord and Rocket and the chemistry between Starlord and Gamora. I also didn’t particularly appreciate how every bad guy last time was sympathized with this time around – Nebula (Karen Gillan), the conflicted sibling of Gamora, is the grayest character of the lot. Her hatred towards her sister is based on her robotic punishment as a child, and we don’t really blame her, but was it necessary to include it so much again into the second film? Yondu remains damn cool and everything for a blue guy, and Michael Rooker is cool enough to be him, but again, so much unnecessary things in this film piled it up to one long watch. I appreciated the cameo by Sylvester Stallone, but really, was it necessary?

I enjoyed GoTG II. It is not a particularly strong film but it is fun and really funny. Marvel took a chance changing so much from their usual formula, and despite following some of their renowned plot moves, it is still the most original work they’ve done in a while.

A 7.5/10 for me

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2? What did you think of it?

Marvellous Mondays: Guardians of the Galaxy by the Review Club

Woohoo! Here is another fantastic post from Troy who blogs over at The Review Club. Go check him out, follow him, and enjoy this epic post! (PS: The list is here if you want to take part)

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Awesomely spectacular in sci-fi visuals, battle-tastic sequences and high class comedy.The tenth installment in the Marvel cinematic universe and 100% one of the best. James Gunn the director and co-writer of this penultimate Phase Two feature has mastered a wise cracking, zippy futuristic barnstormer to once again keep the threat of stale superhero movies well away.

‘GOTG’ kicks things off with a simple enough back story into Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) past of 1988 and from there he’s whisked away into the land of space and the unknown. This movie revolves around him 26 years later as his space pirating ways lead him to grab a much sought after orb. Having this item however is more dangerous than expected and in the process of keeping it he stumbles upon a motley crew of bandits who become friends. (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper) They all must try and stop the orb falling into the wrong hands, i.e the paws of one mighty villain named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).

*very mild spoilers may follow in this write up*

This is such a damn good movie, the movie keeps shuffling along at a speedy pace but never in a way that you feel it’s over before anything has begun. The story is suitably told even if it is predominantly a item for sale kind of shtick. It might be basic but it never feels dull with interesting character interactions to keep the story amusing and fresh. The book-ended Earthy quality to reflect Quill’s background help add that grounded touch to bring us back to more level standings after flying high in the future. The mum, present and Star-Lord aspects all get their time and help make the arrogant, witty dude in charge more three dimensional, which I believe was needed, even if skidding across an empty cave and singing into weird creatures is epic cool. The main likable story focus is centering on them as a gang, a unit, friends and possible a family because of them working together, all their rapports are scripted brilliantly with comedic one liners, miscommunications and personality divides all adding to the hilarity of this odd bunch coming as one. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman have done a top notch thing in writing this film, mixing funny with feels, whizz with calm.

The science fiction is like something wholly and delightfully different to the Marvel films to come so far. Each planet and scene is detailed with futuristic eyes for design and wonder that it’s a treat to see each place appear on the big screen, especially when captured on an IMAX screen. They all work with the unraveling plot and suit the impending darkness of Ronan’s influence. Though Xandar always seems clean, white and like some new Colgate commercial or a Jetson’s city. The sci-fi gizmos are fun and Star-Lord, you know….Star-Lord, oh forget it, he has a Batman like utility belt of gadgetry to deploy; from a handy helmet to some jet-packed boots. It’s all stamped with an assured extreme modern look that gives this film the fun identity you hoped it would have.

‘GOTG’ has a soundtrack of insanely great proportions that relate nicely to Quill as a human with his travelling mixtape, appropriately titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1 that gifts us the sounds of the 70’s and each song ties in with the action it’s played over. Of course there’s the great ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede but other gems come from David Bowie, Marvin Gaye &Tammi Terrell, The Jackson 5 and The Runaways who have one of the best song-to-scene moments with ‘Cherry Bomb’. It’s a very musically felt film even when a song isn’t blasting through the cinema speakers like some phatboombox-esque disco tune. Peter Quill utilises on the moods of ‘Footloose’, he twinkle toes…quite a fair bit and even uses this knack for such a great way to deal with the enemy, very Han Solo tapping on a Stormtrooper to distract jobby.

Chris Pratt is a great leading man and shines as Star-Lord, seriously no idea? Okay, nevermind, the cockiness is just right, never leaning into proper douchebag territory, he has a great sense of comedic timing clearly picked up from his time in ‘Parks and Recreation’, but there’s a sensibility lurking under the leather and helmet of Quill and Pratt showcases this human emotional side when needed to settle the soaring visuals with hearty story, maybe not huge hearty story mind but hearty enough. Zoe Saldana is a great kick-ass assassin and plays green Gamora with the hit-girl precision, she also keeps Quill in check and turns a corner for him without even meaning to. Bradley Cooper is never seen but is utterly fantastic as the voice of the violent Rocket Raccoon, the furball is cute and somewhat softened by the end but he comes out with insults and lines to crack you up constantly, the funniest thing in the film by far. Stan Lee has a cameo, as per. Karen Gillan has black eyes and blue skin in her most evil role yet and she carries that baddie role well giving long stares into shots to convince you she can do harm, underused as a character and I was saddened that after hype of a great female fight between Saldana and her it feels cut short and not that impressive when it comes down to it. Lee Pace is bulky and very bad as Ronan and booms as the central villain, it’s a great play but this film does side more with the journey of the Guardians leaving the villains with less time to breathe.

The best thing about this film is you can tell the makers had a blast getting this made and so you have a blast watching it. It’s zany and piled to the stars with silly and smart comedy, shining special effects and grand fun. A Jackson Pollack comment says it all for some of the greatly scripted one-liners and the dazzling lights and kindness of Groot’s heart tell you how sweet and sad the film can sometimes be. It succeeds it making you care about the good guys an awful lot and each one gets enough screentime to warrant you liking them all, they’re the new Avengers in a way, more weird but just as easily to get attached to. Heck this film even bangs out a final act more impressive and neatly wrapped up than ‘The Avengers’ managed to achieve.

Mad fun, great sounds and sights can be found in this action filled space adventure. An exhilarating ride that makes you want to go round again and again.

8.5/10

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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What happens?

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted from earth by Ravagers seconds after his mother’s death. He is raised by them, and grows up under their leader Yongu (Michael Rooker).

Twenty-six years later Quill steals an artefact on the planet Morag. He is intercepted by Korath (Djimon Hounson), who is a servant for the cruel Ronan (Lee Pace). Yongu is furious that Peter did this without him and issues a bounty for him, while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to kill Peter and retrieve the stone.

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I am Groot!

Quill, Gamora, the bounty hunter Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a genetically engineered racoon and his tree-like friend Groot (Vin Diesel) are captured when Rocket and Gamora tries to catch Quill the same time on Xandar, the home world of the Nova Corps. They are sent to a high security prison where they eventually team up with Drax (Dave Bautista), an inmate who initially wanted to kill Gamora for her connection with Ronan. Quill convinces Drax that Ronan wants Gamora dead for her betrayal and that he would be doing his enemy a favour and Drax decides to tag alone in the hopes of killing Ronan himself. Gamora reveals that she has a buyer for the orb and that if they work together they can share the cash.

After breaking out, they attempt to sell the orb, but disaster strikes and they realise how dangerous the orb is that Peter stole – it is an infinity stone that is exceptionally dangerous. They agree that getting the stone back to the Nova Corps is crucial because if Ronan gets it he will destroy Xandar.

Will they be able to elude Ronan? Can Xandar be protected by the fanatical Ronan who is intent on destroying the planet? Will the Nova Corps believe that Peter is trying to help them?

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Rating: 7/10

I have to confess that I solely went to see this movie because I wanted to go to the IMAX theatre that opened in Pretoria recently at The Grove. It was so much fun. It is FAR and PRICEY but totally worth it – the mall itself is beautiful and new and wonderfully designed and the theatre is epic, although the leg space is a bit small. I really enjoyed the experience and the movie as a result.

Guardians of the Galaxy seem like something Marvel worked really hard on. it is beautifully done – the graphics are amazing and for once the 3D was actually obvious – have you felt as well that sometimes 3D seems so NOT 3D? The movie is packed with events and worlds and drama, humour and attitude.

Ronan the Accuser was frightening. He seemed genuinely cruel and without mercy, fanatical and bent on destruction. His outfit contributed towards the horror he carried with him, and his eyes genuinely seemed dead. I liked the fanatical side to the character – he wasn’t overly interested in world domination but wanted a brand of justice. It felt like a nudge to all the people in the world who murder on some misconception of giving justice to their own people.

Chris Pratt is suddenly this sexy man that has a real career beckoning in Hollywood. He is really funny as always and his character has so many quirks. He worked extremely hard to pull off a type of Iron Man superhero – who saves the day but is funny while doing it.

I really laughed at Drax – he is an ode to every person on the planet that doesn’t grasp sarcasm and is made up of pure logic. His story was sad and his initial despise of Gamora understandable. It was sweet to see how they all became closer as their adventure progressed, especially Gamora and Drax, who didn’t meet under the best of circumstances.

Good things in the movie:

Completely new story being told – very original stuff

The graphics was flat out awesome.

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Groot – especially in the tiny form. He might go into the cuteness overload club alongside Toothless and Stitch.

Stan Lee – duh, as always.

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Drax: NOTHING goes over my head!… My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

Things that didn’t work:

Zoe Saldana – I feel like I can’t ever connect to her performances. She is firstly too fond of playing aliens and she doesn’t really ever feel authentic.

It sometimes feels too much – there is so much happening in this movie that you can lose track what is going down.

It is very long – three hours maybe?

The spoiler at the end of the movie was so not satisfactory considering the amount of credits you must sit through.

It didn’t give me that rush of emotions I was hoping for. I probably unfairly wanted to feel like I did the first time I watched the Avengers. This was good but the action never approached wow levels.

Have you seen it? What did you think?