MOVIE REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017) proves that its predecessor’s critical and commercial success was not a fluke. Grander, funnier, wilder – Vol. 2 is an extreme level-up in all ways it could.

The movie boasts everything you could ever hope for in a comic book adaptation: non-stop action, unprecedented humor, a committed group of actors who equally stand out in their own rights, dazzling visual effects, and above all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 plays its own strength: it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. Its ridiculous imperfections, cheeky tone and cheap thrills that work so well, it’s a rollercoaster ride straight from a comic book. The creators’ specific vision of a grungy-looking production, low-key CGI, hues of pink and blue, steam punk atmosphere translates impeccable on-screen, it almost creates its own genre. It lies somewhere between a campy yet soulful 80’s B-movie and a grandiose superhero feature that is so rare in cinemas nowadays. Its intentional imperfections are key towards an action-comedy flick that’s a high-kick close to perfect.

The cast is unstoppable; flawless comic timing to the tee, and none felt irrelevant. Every character is well-conceptualized, wisely thought, and hilariously played by an ensemble of true talents.

The production design has to be the film’s star power. Its style is so distinct, it seems that it has created its own brand. Visually cartoonish, but overall stunning – the movie is the epitome of a comic book brought to life, almost literally, and as colorful as the luminous stars and queer planets of its own universe. I would not be surprised if this movie would finally be rewarded with its overdue Visual and Special Effects, Hair and Make Up, and Art Direction accolades by the end of the year.

A few casualties, however, are quite detectable from the film’s narrative, coming off quite conventional and formulaic filled with cheesy dialogues and preachy sentiments, and ultimately predictable as the film reaches its second half. Not to mention, a Razzie-worthy performance from Kurt Russell who awkwardly plays a pivotal role, clearly carried by his costumes and the film’s CGI, but that is more of a dress-up play than a cinematic portrayal. My money for Worst Supporting Actor is on him. But at this point, it’s almost impossible to care for the film’s flaws, as the high is already explosive enough to compensate.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II is a gigantic leap from Vol. 1’s already-monumental achievement. The film’s generosity on its visual splendor and entertainment value will simply live up, or even exceed everybody’s expectations. So far, the best film of 2017.


4.75 out of 5 stars


WATCH: First full trailer for ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ debuts

The world’s unstoppable spies are back in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also helmed the phenomenal blockbuster “Kingsman: The Secret Service” that introduced a street kid into the world of espionage.

In the latest instalment “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” Taron Egerton reprises his role as Eggsy along with returning powerhouse cast led by Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine and Sophie Cookson. This time, the returning Kingsmen are joined by new exciting and award-winning cast members including Sir Elton John, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Julianne Moore.

In the recently revealed first trailer of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” our heroes face a new challenge. When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

Prepare for a rip-roaring time at the movies when “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” opens in Philippine cinemas on September 27, 2017, from 20th Century Fox as distributed by Warner Bros.

Girlfriends have one ‘Rough Night’ in teaser poster

“The best nights never go as planned,” or so declares the teaser poster of Columbia Pictures’ new comedy Rough Night, starring Scarlett Johansson.

In Rough Night, an edgy R-rated comedy, five best friends from college (played by Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz) reunite 10 years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Their hard partying takes a hilariously dark turn when they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amidst the craziness of trying to figure out what to do,their night takes some hilariously unexpected turns, ultimately bringing them closer together when it matters most.

Directed by Lucia Aniello and written by Aniello & Paul W. Downs.

Opening soon across the Philippines, Rough Night is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

WATCH: ‘Cars 3’ hero gets back on track with new trailer

One last chance. One more dream. View Disney-Pixar’s new Cars 3 trailer below and watch the comedy adventure in Philippine cinemas on August 23, 2017.

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

The animated adventure is directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist Cars, Cars 2) and produced by Kevin Reher (A Bug’s Life, La Luna short).

The film also features the voices of Armie Hammer hotshot new racer Jackson Storm, Cristela Alonzo as the friendly trainer Cruz Ramirez, with Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Paul Dooley, Cheech Marin, Katherine Helmond, Larry the Cable Guy, Angel Oquendo, and Darrell Waltrip.

Cars 3 is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Philippines.

‘Baywatch’ cast strikes lifeguard poses in new poster

Paramount Pictures has just released the new poster for its highly awaited raunchy comedy Baywatch, the big-screen adaptation of the iconic beach lifeguard show of the ’90s.

Opening in Philippine cinemas on May 31, 2017, Baywatch is directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) and stars Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfenesh Hadera.

Baywatch follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) as he butts heads with a brash new recruit (Efron). Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

“Baywatch” is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Latest colonization mission lands in hostile terrain in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’

The largest colonization mission takes off in Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi horror-thriller “Alien: Covenant” starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Carmen Ejogo, Callie Hernandez and Danny McBride.

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in “Alien” with “Alien: Covenant”, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with “Prometheus” and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

In recent interviews, Ridley Scott revealed that in “Alien: Covenant”, he explored into the origins of the xenomorphs, and that the movie touches on mortality, immortality and the higher power who created humans and the universe. “We did Prometheus – that heaved it off the ground, and Covenant is a follow-through to Prometheus. We now know who created this, and why, and the next one’s a joining up of the storyline,” says Scott.

Both Prometheus and Covenant are inspired by Scott’s personal beliefs about where we came from: “We’re not just a random biological accident, for you and I to be sitting here right now [by accident] would take trillions of correct decisions made randomly by nature, which of course is ridiculous. I think there’s some kind of decision being made. I believe in a higher force – if we want to call it God, then it’s God.”

Scott further revealed in his Vanity Fair interview about the opening scene in “Alien: Covenant”, “We start Covenant with a really clever prologue that settles—once and for all—who David really is.” The sequence begins on a “big beautiful blue eye—you see every vein” and over that shot audiences will hear footsteps approach. “How do you feel?” a voice asks. “Alive,” the owner of the eye responds. Scott explains that the prologue reveals Guy Pearce’s Prometheus character, Peter Weyland, as a younger, 40-year-old man whom the newly-born David calls “father.” Scott promises this sequence will “really get people going because it’s fucking smart for a change.”

“Alien: Covenant” opens May 10, 2017 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Chris Pratt slays as Star-Lord in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

Chris Pratt inhabits Peter Quill aka Star-Lord anew in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as he faces a family issue that he is compelled to resolve—his true parentage. Pratt reprises the role that propelled him into Marvel fandom and leading-man status.

Having now saved the galaxy once, the half-human intergalactic adventurer known as Star-Lord is newly famous and keenly aware of it. When the Guardians’ newfound notoriety brings Quill’s long-lost father back into his life, his bond with the other Guardians will be put to the test.

On casting Chris Pratt as Star-Lord/Peter Quill, director-writer James Gunn says, “When I was auditioning Star-Lord the first time around I was looking for somebody who’d come in, do everything that was on the page, do it well, do it in a funny way, but also give that a little something extra that made Peter Quill a little bit of a different character. And Chris came in and did that immediately. Chris is a very unique movie star in that he is a combination of being a big, masculine guy but also a very vulnerable guy. He has a vulnerability that the classic movie stars hint at, whether it’s Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper. Chris really brings that to life on the screen, and I think that’s what makes him a truly modern-day movie star.”

For Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy afforded him the vehicle to showcase both his comedic and physical talents in a way that he had not been able to do on film. “What appealed to me the most about this character was the opportunity to add my own personal brand of humor into it,” comments Pratt. “This was something that I knew I could do that was unique to me, and I had been dying for an opportunity to do that. I wanted to do something that was both comedic and physical. This role is a comfortable space to do that. What is so exciting to me is that I can just do the best version of my best stuff with Star-Lord.”

Describing where we find Peter Quill in the new story, Gunn relates, “As you know, the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is about Peter’s relationship to his mother and coming to terms with that. The second movie is about Peter Quill’s relationship to his father and his other fatherly figures. Yondu is obviously a fatherly figure to him. And then he meets his actual father, Ego, played by Kurt Russell, who is in a lot of ways everything he wanted. He is coming to terms with things. His feelings of abandonment, how he feels about his real father’s life, which is very different from his own, etc.”

Pratt offers insight on the importance of Peter’s quest to find his true parentage. “Quill is desperate to know who his dad is and dreamed his whole life that his dad was somebody special, somebody important, somebody cool,” says Pratt. “So when Quill finally meets his bigger-than-life father, who’s been searching for him, it fills this giant void that he’s had in his heart his whole life.”

In the course of the film, Quill finds himself reexamining his relationship with Yondu as well. “Of course, he’s always looked at Yondu, who abducted him, as being the guy who threatened to eat him or was hard on him,” Pratt says. “But he learns through the course of this film that the relationship is more of a father/son dynamic than he could’ve ever expected to get from anyone else.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also stars Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Tommy Flanagan as Tulik, Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill, with Sylvester Stallone as Stakar, and Kurt Russell as Ego.

Opening across the Philippines on April 26, 2017, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is distributed in the Philippines by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

PH cinemas to screen only Filipino films via ‘Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’ on Aug 16-22

In honor of the Buwan ng Wika, the Film Development Council of the Philippines is partnering with commercial theaters to exclusively screen Filipino films nationwide on August 16-22, 2017 dubbed as Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

“Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino will be a big celebration of Filipino films for our audience – a festivity with a wide variety of genre films to choose from nationwide,” said FDCP Chair and CEO Liza Diño. “We are grateful for the support and partnership of the National Cinema Association of the Philippines and SM Lifestyle Entertainment have graciously dedicated over seven hundred (700) of their screens for the Pista. This really is an incredible opportunity for our Filipino audience to reconnect with meaningful Filipino films that move and appeal to them in an exclusive platform,” she added.

The event is open to all Filipino filmmakers who may submit films on or before June 15, 2017. Ten (10) to twelve (12) films will be selected by a Selection Committee headed by the FDCP with genres ranging from family-oriented, to romantic comedy, horror, fantasy, and even historical films that emulate Filipino sensibilities and culture. Each film will be screened at a minimum of sixty (60) theaters.

In addition to the screenings, Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino will include caravans, audience surveys and forums to maximize the participation of film stakeholders, especially for the audience.

For more information, filmmakers may email FDCP at chairliza@fdcp.ph.

Experience fan-focused ‘Alien: Covenant’ activities on ‘Alien Day’ at Trinoma cinema

In anticipation of the year’s most terrifying film by Ridley Scott “Alien: Covenant” that will open on May 10 in Phils. cinemas, fans and enthusiasts are in for a treat dubbed as “Alien Day” on April 26 as the groundbreaking franchise offers 24 hours of fan-focused activities worldwide.

“Alien Day” on April 26 is a nod to planet LV-426 from the iconic Alien films, as the countdown continues for the highly anticipated new chapter in Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-fi thriller, “Alien: Covenant,” releasing in theaters worldwide beginning May 10. Cast members from “Alien: Covenant” will join fan-focused festivities including a live streaming event, an interactive trivia challenge, worldwide screenings, all-new product launches, special reveals and more.

The worldwide Alien Day fan activities include livestreaming event at Fox Studios in Los Angeles on all Alien social channels and on the newly launched ALIEN Universe Hub (www.AlienUniverse.com), fans can interact with the cast via a question and answer session as well as view multiple behind-the-scenes segments highlighting the making of “Alien: Covenant” and for the hardcore nerds there’s the “MU/TH/UR of all ALIEN Trivia Challenges” – available for only 24 hours on http://www.AlienUniverse.com, Fox will unveil a new quiz every 4 hours and 26 minutes.

On the local scene, in Metro Manila, experience the alien in you in the “Alien: Covenant” Utero, a photo exhibit at Ayala Malls Cinemas’ Trinoma Cinema lobby wherein one can experience firsthand via VR (virtual reality) being borne as an alien starting April 26, Wednesday (7:00pm). Early birds will also get a chance to take home a limited collectible “Alien: Covenant” poster at the kick-off of Alien Day in Trinoma Cinema.

This is something you have never seen and experienced before! Step into the “Alien: Covenant” VR experience at Trinoma where participants will be immersed into a living nightmare and offer an experience that will feel like the first memory of an alien neomorph at the time of its birth. The virtual reality puts you in the first person’s POV (point-of-view) as if you were a neomorph fetus being borne and ends up bursting from a person’s back. Experience it all – visual and auditory as the “Alien: Covenant” Utero brings you a womb-like environment created with extreme level of detail and realism.

“Alien: Covenant” is set ten years after the events depicted in Ridley Scott’s 2012 hit “Prometheus.” Now, “Alien: Covenant” returns to the roots of the director’s groundbreaking saga with a uniquely terrifying tale filled with white-knuckle adventure and monstrous new creatures. With this, the sixth installment in the blockbuster series, the visionary director edges ever closer toward revealing the mysterious origins of the mother of all aliens, the lethal Xenomorph from the original film.

Brace for inescapable terror when “Alien: Covenant” opens in Philippine cinemas on May 10, 2017 – from 20th Century Fox distributed by Warner Bros.

WATCH: Suspense thriller ‘The Beguiled’ bewilders with first trailer

Universal Pictures and Focus Features have premiered the first trailer for director Sofia Coppola’s new suspense thriller The Beguiled starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kristen Dunst and Elle Fanning.

View the trailer below and watch The Beguiled in Philippine cinemas this July 2017.

The Beguiled is an atmospheric thriller from acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie-Antoinette). The story unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier. As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

An official competition entry to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film’s screenplay is adapted by Coppola from Thomas Cullinan’s original novel.

The Beguiled is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.