Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Adding to the most famous film series in history was always going to be a big ask.  And coming hot on the heels of the success of Episode VII, the pressure was really on for Rogue One to deliver.   Needing to stay faithful to the wider story while delivering something fresh and accessible, was it all just too much to ask for? Probably.  But improbable odds never stopped a rebel before…

Gareth Edward’s affection for the Star Wars saga quietly permeates the whole movie.  I’ve seen all of the Star War films (including Force Awakens, which I enjoyed), but I’m no die-hard fan.  Yet even I couldn’t help but smile at the little fan moments, those touches that only someone with real love for the story could come up with.  Particularly loved Vader boarding the rebel ship as it trys to flee with the plans, illuminated only by his lightsabre.  Though Leia’s late appearance came a close second.  Yet this sensation was brilliantly controlled, and only done when it served the story.  Things never got that fan-fiction feeling.  It was never self-indulgent or exclusive.  Quite the reverse, you could come to this film knowing nothing about Star Wars, and you’d still have a great time.  And it stands on its own merits.

It certainly looked convincing, with a lovely eye for details.  Although I struggled with the CG ‘resurrection’ of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin.  While I respect the skill involved, the whole thing didn’t quite convince for me.  I think it’s the eyes- there’s a flatness, a stillness that’s really distracting, constantly reminding you that you’re looking an image, not a person.  It worked in small doses, but the extended Tarkin sequences showed the limitations of the tech.  Not that it was really bad, or took away from the film as a whole, I just don’t think it was as good as a real actor would have been.

And there’s so much great acting here – a real ensemble piece.  Felicity Jones is brilliant, but she’s only a part of a much bigger group.  The story really captures what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself.  Jyn was a focal point, a way to pull us into the story, but there are small acts of heroism everywhere.  History isn’t changed by just one person, but one person can make a difference.  A very tricky thing to pull off, and it’s done here with real style.

Every one of the characters makes their mark, as different facets and complexities of the rebellion came to the fore.   Chirrut and Baze were particularly brilliant as the obsolete Jedi, clinging without bitterness to their dying way of life.  Saw Gerrera showed the cost of giving everything to a cause; Galen how bravery takes different forms.  They all felt organic – I particularly loved the way Bodhi grew into his place in the rebellion – and every death had impact.  I’m not sure if I have a weakness for sarcastic robots, but I was genuinely affected by K2’s demise.

It was very low key, as endings go.  Most of the rebel fleet destroyed, and everyone we’ve spent the last two hours getting to know left dead.  I liked the quietness of Jyn and Cassian’s final moments – their closeness acknowledged without any shoehorned romantic involvement.   The losses brilliantly balanced how each individual death could be seen as a waste – dead just to buy someone else a few minutes, to plug into a transmitter, to throw a switch.  Yet, combined, these small actions manage to achieve something miraculous, snatching a possibility of victory from almost certain destruction.  It’s all brilliantly balanced.  Hope is alive, but such a fragile little thing. If you were in the rebels’ place, would you think it was worth it?

Even though most of us know the Death Star is eventually destroyed and the Empire overthrown, it feels a heavy price to pay.  And with the rise of the First Order, we also know there’s no such thing as victory.  Everything comes back around, and everyone will have to make the same choices.  This idea is only touched on- nothing too clunking – but when Cassian and his crew talk about having given too much, having done too much, to give up – you can’t help but wonder if you’d be the same.  We like to think we’d be brave if the need arose, but I’m not sure most of us would.  I’d probably be in the Cantina…

Speaking of which, there’s some lovely world-building done here.  Glimpses of a vast and bustling galazy – crowded streets of Jedha, a dank prison transport, bleak but beautiful  Lah’mu.  I got a distinctly Dubai feel from Scarif, with is perfectly formed white beach islands and towering structures.  The film feels epic but on a human scale, which is incredibly tricky to do.  It’s fantastically well constructed.  There is an astonishing amount of storytelling going on here, yet it never feels lumpen or slow.  And it’s all managed while creating something recognisably Star Wars, without feeling too recycled.  When the final credits rolled, I honestly felt like clapping.  It’s amazing!

What did you think?  Was the ending too dark for you?  Did you think a familiarity with Star Wars was needed? Did you want to give K2 a hug? Let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

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Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The Enterprise gets pulled to bits! Bones and Spock do some actual bonding! And the Beastie Boys save the day!  It’s certainly not dull, but does Star Trek Beyond live up to the hype?

Well that was a blast!  And what a cracking plot twist! Nicely foreshadowed, but I didn’t see it coming.  I assumed that as Krall ‘consumed’ more human energy, he would end up imbibing our human perspective, and realise the error of his ways.  The way things actually played out was far more interesting.  Uhura figuring it out with the video log sent a shiver down my spine.  Most baddies become less engaging the more we learn about them, whereas Krall becomes more compelling as the story progresses.  Excellent writing, and a brilliant performance from Idris Elba.

I absolutely loved the design of Krall’s spaceships.  They looked menacing even when stood still, and had a really fresh approach to space warfare.  No elegant laser battles here – the whole ship is a weapon, literally fired into enemy vessels, tearing into the hull and disgorging soldiers into the belly of the ship.  It was pleasingly visceral and low tech, and very efficiently tells you a lot about the kind of people we’re dealing with.   The design also gave rise to some cracking visuals, with the ‘swarm’ attacks making an interesting inversion of the usual one massive-scary-ship idea.   It also, with a pleasing irony, suggests the idea of strength coming from unity.  Krall’s crew are destroyed, after all, when the link between them is interrupted.

The plot is very well managed, keeping things tight but not too manic.  There’s very little planet-hopping here, and the main thrust of the plot is very straightforward: get off the planet and protect Yorktown.  Splitting everyone up is a neat trick, preventing things becoming too focussed on one ‘hero’ who figures it all out and saves the day.  Instead, there is a nice momentum as each group learns something useful, working to regroup and then move forward – again, victory through teamwork.

That isn’t just a moral of the story, some practical lesson tacked onto the end.  It really shows throughout the film as the characters interact and relationships develop.  Spock and Kirk re-establish just how well they work together, but Spock and Uhura are also great team.  As are Kirk and Chekov.  And Scotty and Wee-man, obviously.   Even Jayla finds a place as part of the crew.  Family and belonging are themes the previous films have considered before, but Director Justin Lin really brings that to the fore, and with great success.

As some relationships develop over time, others are cut short.  The death of Leonard Nimoy is beautifully worked into the story, as our Spock struggled with the death of Ambassador Spock.  Does this mean his place is now on New Vulcan?  In a lovely tribute, we’re shown an image of Ambassador Spock back on the Enterprise with the rest of his crew, which inspires our Spock to stay where he is.  The death of Anton Yelchin, who was sadly killed after filming had completed, is also acknowledged with a toast ‘to absent friends’.  A simple, but very moving tribute, elegantly handled.

With all the weighty ideas, the tone of the film is never ponderous.  We get some brilliant laugh out loud moments, mostly from Bones, together with a pleasing sense of self-awareness:  Kirk says that the voyage is starting to feel ‘a little episodic’.  There’s also an infectious sense of optimism – Yorktown is no grim, industrial outpost, but a sophisticated, glistening, bustling metropolis.  There are rivers, and trees and skyscrapers!  Bones likens it to a snow globe, floating in space.  He means to suggest its isolation and vulnerability, but he inadvertently conveys how pretty it is.  A delicate space bauble, filled with light and life.  The future looks cool.

One of the best things about Beyond is that, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve enjoyed it.  Ideas play off against each other, and reinforce each other, all handled with real narrative and visual flair:  ‘We have to change, or we end up fighting the same wars.’  If our ancestors could see us now, how would they judge us?  Kirk’s renewed sense of purpose comes from realising just how important Starfleet is, how peace and progress require constant drive and work.  There was a lovely shot of Kirk in his escape pod, watching through the glass as the shattered Enterprise crash lands on the unknown world.  His home, his family, and his purpose – all taken from him in a single swoop.  Time to start fighting for what matters.

Any quibbles?  I couldn’t help but notice the absence of Carole Marcus from Into Darkness.  Did she not fancy the five year mission after all?  Most of the ‘bad’ aliens were ugly, and the ‘good’ aliens were pretty – bit of a cliché, though hardly a big deal.  And, while things mostly looked great, the CGI was a bit wobbly on occasion, most notably when we first see Kirk and Jayla on the motorbike.

But I was either moved, amused, or on the edge of my seat for the entire run-time.  2 hours flew by, and I was left hoping to see a lot more of Kirk and his crew.  Justin Lin is used to helming long-lasting franchises, so who knows?  I feel like we’re just getting started.

What did you think?  Is there anything I missed?  Did you enjoy ‘the beats and shouting’?  Which enemy would you like to see the Enterprise up against next?  Should the role of Chekov be recast, or should the character be written out?  Let me know!

Looper (2012)

In the not-too-distant future, it has become effectively impossible to get away with murder.   Alas, time travel has been invented, and in order to get rid of troublesome people, criminal gangs simply zap them back through time, where they are immediately executed by hired killers called Loopers.   In order to remove all trace of these crimes, the gangs will eventually send the Loopers themselves back in time to be murdered by their younger versions.  This is termed ‘closing the loop’ and means our young killer gets 30 years of the high life before the inevitable happens.  Of course, one day something goes wrong and our protagonist – a Looper called Joe – is left trying to hunt down his future self.  Older Joe, however, has plans of his own…

I like that this film doesn’t mess about, diving straight in with an explanation of the Loopers and the emergence of mild telekinetic abilities in a suitably bleak, urbanised dystopia.  Clocking in at just under 2 hours it’s not a short film, but it zips along brilliantly.  It is disorientating at first, a lot of information is offered up very quickly, but the threads all come together eventually and the conclusion is satisfying and wonderfully finessed.

Looper is a very moral film, but also a very heartfelt one.  You understand why everyone behaves the way they do, what they are trying to achieve. They suffer because of an absence of love and guidance.  We need to matter to someone, we need each other.   And our actions have consequences.  Selfishness and loss mar the lives they touch.  Older Joe is willing to go to terrible lengths to protect the woman he loves, but he ends up creating the very person who took her from him.  Younger Joe just wants to close his loop, and return to his normal life.  Sara is trying to make amends for abandoning her child, trying to take responsibility for their lives.  And it all revolves around little Sid. We’ve seen how it could all turn out, but does it have to be that way?

Every action ripples out, and violence begets violence, but the film’s never preachy or smug.  There are no goodies and baddies here, no mention of good or evil.  It’s both universal and intimate.  The cast is really quite small – cause and effect is pretty clearly established.  But at the same time, this could be any group of people anywhere.  Big ideas are examined on a pleasingly small scale.

While the film ponders big themes, it could simply be seen as one man choosing to grow up.  Joe is a man, a professional killer, who drives and drinks and parties.  But for all this adult activity, he is an immature character, craving the comfort and security he never had as a child.  While no means stupid, he’s governed by his appetites and unwilling to embrace the possibly of a fully realised adult life.  He thinks ahead, stashing his silver for his 30 years of retirement, but only so he can keep on partying.  But by the end of the film, Joe is willing to sacrifice himself to spare the world the future horror of the Rainmaker.  It’s a beautifully crafted moment; Joe’s choice makes perfect sense, but is still selfless and poignant.

If there is a weakness, I suppose the way in which the time travel was handled will annoy some viewers.  It’s not something that is explained or considered too deeply.  It is a little bit cheeky, asking an audience to accept everything they’re told, and not ponder any potential pitfalls.  But when both Jeff Daniels and Bruce Willis tell you not to worry about it, why argue?  Especially when it’s handled so stylishly.   I was mesmerised, if a little appalled, by the idea of giving someone unnecessary amputations simply to incapacitate their future self.  The image of older Seth trying to climb a fence, only to realise in horror that vital appendages are disappearing must be one of the most inventive and visually striking uses of time travel I’ve ever seen.

Such images, however, are not just for show.  It all feeds back into how characters are affected by past choices.  Sid gets shot in the face in the finale – only a graze, but nasty if it got infected.  In the ‘bad’ future, we see him tiny and alone, angrily clutching a rag to his face.  The Rainmaker has prosthetic jaw, a grisly physical consequence of this violence and loss inflicted on him as a child, neatly mirroring the psychological damage he suffers.  But with his Mum still alive to take care of him, there is the chance for things to turn out differently.

Both the performances and the writing are excellent.  Emily Blunt is great as Sara, full of guilt and barely repressed fear.  Joseph Gordon Levitt does well to make us care for a not entirely likable character, quietly reminding us that the man has been shaped by his own losses.  I also loved Jeff Daniels’ world weary Abe ‘Do something new!’ he barks at Joe.  Biggest praise has to go to Pierce Gagnon as Sid.  Genuinely unsettling, it’s remarkable how quickly you believe that this little boy could grow up to be a monster, while still being aware that he is just a child.

All in all a clever, well balanced film with an eye for stylish details and an appetite for big ideas.  The saying goes that you should do something today that your future self will thank you for.  A cult classic in the making, if you didn’t catch Looper at the cinema, I recommend you give it a go.  Future you will be glad you did.

Interstellar (2014)

Don’t think, don’t feel, just watch.

In the not-to-distant future, Earth is dying, and Matthew McConaughey is sent through a mysterious black hole to find us a new home.  Buy a ticket and go see this most talked about film of the year, because you’re definitely going to want to catch this one at the cinema.

So, there’s an idea that in film that you should show rather than tell.  But here, it’s often the other way around.  We’re told that humanity is facing extinction, because of our own greed; but earth, in all honesty, looks in pretty good shape.  The dust is an issue, but everyone appears healthy and well-fed, and still has enough leisure time to go to the ball game.  OK, no MRI’s, but humanity still has cars and combine harvesters and laptops.  Access to university is limited, but children are still educated until they’re 16 or 18; even hundred years ago, education was only compulsory until age 14.  Cooper’s wife, we are told, died young, but her father and Brand Senior live to a ripe-old age.  (John Lithegow is 69, Michael Cane is 81, and both their characters survive approximately 10/15 earth years after Cooper leaves).

For such a talky film, it’s odd how little time and detail is given to explaining why our survival depends on leaving earth.  Some mention of blight depleting crops and oxygen, but how this is our fault, and why we can’t fix it is never made clear.  What kind of blight destroys potatoes, and corn, and rye?  It just doesn’t convince.   Maybe the filmmakers just wanted to get into space as quickly as possible.  Not unforgivable, but it does undermine the sense of urgency a bit.

It may also explain why it feels the characters exist to serve the plot, rather than the other way around.  Now, I understand it’s a movie and sometimes characters have to make mistakes in order for events to progress.  But if your characters repeatedly do stupid things, and these actions don’t resonate with their personality and motives, then you stop believing what you’re seeing, and that is a big problem.

Maybe I’m being picky.  But, maybe not.  I am a very credulous movie-goer.  I love falling into a film, feeling it, being pulled along with it.  My ability to suspend disbelief is probably stronger than most.  I absolutely loved Gravity, which has more than a few unbelievable moments.  The difference is I really cared about Ryan, and kept caring, even when she stuffed up.  But Interstellar didn’t have that emotional resonance for me, and without that to carry me through, the whole film just left me cold.   Cooper seemed a very distant father- he actually had to be reminded to talk to Murph.  Yeah, I know, plot.  But when the whole point of the story is that love unites humanity, you actually need to see it, and we never did.

Hang on, didn’t I say you should see this film? Err, yes.  Absolutely.  And please don’t just wait for the Blu-Ray, because, whatever its flaws, this film is staggeringly beautiful.  Nothing but a cinema will do it justice.  Once we get into space, almost every other scene is lovely to look at.  The black hole sequences in particular had me mesmerised.  I won’t attempt a description, because it will inevitably fall short.  Just go see.

I also, bizarrely, enjoyed how morally awful many of the characters were.  When faced with the extinction of the species, not to mention our own demise, I imagine most of us would be anything but reasonable, and I found this all-to-human selfishness and arrogance the most convincing aspect of characterisation in the film.   Though, given its supposed emphasis on the power of love, I’m not sure all of it was intentional.  Anyway, the heroic Mann turns out to be a deceitful little coward, who jettisons humanity’s only chance for survival, simply to gain few more years of life for himself.  A cracking piece of casting, putting lovable Matt Damon in the role.  His unexpected demise made everyone jump in their seats.   And quietly cackle with glee.  I also loved Brand Junior trying desperately to rationalise why the mission should travel to the planet that just happens to have her boyfriend on it.  Even lovely old Michael Cane turns out to have his own agenda, feeding humanity a lie to keep them working together, when he believes they are all beyond saving.  By the end, I was hoping for just a little emotional payoff.  But then Cooper, finally meeting his daughter again after a 70-odd year absence, decides to leave her to die with her family, as he has some more exploring to do.

On the flip-side, and probably just as strangely, I cared more about the robots than the humans by the end.  CASE and TRIP were better company than they were, and certainly more decent.  Even after being dumped in a black hole (albeit for good reasons) TRIP still does his best to ensure the survival of mankind.  They are also the only source of humour in the film.   I loved the interest caused by their customisable personality settings as well:  ‘100% honesty is neither optimal nor kind when dealing with emotional beings.’

Quick confession, I didn’t catch all of the space science.  I kept up until the slingshot approach to the third planet then I got confused.  Is there a difference between a black hole and a worm hole?  And if future us made the black hole that saved present day us, isn’t that a paradox?  Meh.  It all sounded convincing, and in a sci-fi movie, that’s all you need.

While it was chilly and occasionally confusing, the sheer grandeur and beauty of Interstellar kept me hooked ‘til the end.  It may fall short of true greatness, but it was still an entertaining spectacle that reminded me of the power of cinema, even while I hoped for a little more heart.  I might even go see it again.

What did you think?  Did the science convince?  Did you care about the characters?  Were you happy with the ending, or just let down?  Do let me know.

Doctor Who, Mummy on the Orient Express, BBC1

I’ll admit it. I was worried there for a while.

I feared that Series Eight would be when Doctor Who finally lost its magic for me.  But after a shaky start, Capaldi’s Doctor has finally come into his own in this genuinely thrilling episode.

It’s not that this series has been terrible. Time Heist was good fun. And Listen was whirring along quite nicely, sticking to the trend of Doctor Who being at its best with a low budget and a cracking script, though the resolution really let things down.  So, while the first few episodes have been alright, they have lacked that certain something that distinguishes good from great.

That all changed with ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ which, naff title aside, was a classy, well-paced piece of work.  A rich old lady on a luxury train is killed just 66 seconds after encountering a creepy Egyptian mummy.  However, she was the only one who could see him.  A hallucination produced by her oxygen-deprived brain, perhaps?  Well, the train is actually a space ship and this is Doctor Who, so my money would be on no.

First praise has to go to writer Jaime Mathieson, who has done a superb job helming his first episode.  (I can’t help but feel relieved this was a Moffat-free zone.) Putting a time limit on events can seem a cheap way of creating tension, but here it worked really well, with how different people reacted to their final countdown giving neat little insights into their character.  The whole episode was well structured, and the resolution was both clever and just a little bit affecting.  I especially enjoyed the Doctor’s conversation with Clara on the beach, and the Captain’s shock at learning that his best waiter was, in fact, a hologram.

The performances were uniformly excellent, with GUS proving to be the most effective villain we’ve encountered for a while.  Frank Skinner also pops up as an engineer who knows more than he’s telling.  Some have criticised his acting, but I honestly thought he was fine.  Though, I’ll admit, I was relieved when he declined to take a trip on the TARDIS.  Capaldi has been solid all series, but was on particularly cracking form here, and seemed to relish the opportunity to finally take centre stage.

The production values were excellent.  I loved the Bioshock-esque 1920s feel and the attention to detail.  The costumes were also great, particularly Clara’s stunning black and gold beaded dress.  The Doctor’s outfit was beautifully balanced: genuinely smart evening suit teamed with an anachronistic and slightly silly neck tie.  Also thought the jelly babies in a cigarette case was a lovely touch.

Issues? Well… Clara is still annoying.  Seriously, woman, are you staying or going?  And, fundamentally, I just don’t know how we’re supposed to feel about her.  I assume we’re meant to sympathise at the human cost of being a Companion.  But to be honest, I’m finding all that to be just a little bit tedious.  I want all of time and space, and thrills, and (yeah) a bit of whimsy.  Instead I’ve got a Guardian-reading schoolmarm telling snide jokes and stopping to give a lecture every 15 minutes.  She started off as plot device, and for me, that is precisely how she’s stayed.    Just a few episodes ago, Clara was willing to annihilate her very existence to save the Doctor.  But we’re now meant to believe that she – for, as far as I can tell, no real reason – is angry enough with the Doctor to contemplate leaving for good?  It just doesn’t ring true.

I can cope with wonky sets and wonkier science, but I need characters I care about.  Preferably flawed, likable and occasionally brilliant.   But, most of all, they have to be capable of growth, and I don’t think Clara is.  Every companion I’ve met has been forced to grow up by their time on the TARDIS.  Rose fell in love, and then lost it.  Martha matured enough to walk away from a situation that could only cause her pain.  Donna saved the universe and paid a terrible price.  The Ponds love for each other was tested, and found to be true.  But has Clara grown at all?  She has met the Doctor as a child.  She has told Danny she loves him.  She has seen a T-Rex in the Thames, and an alien hatch from the Moon.  But, for all her fine speeches, I’m not convinced that Clara has changed at all.  Which, for me, is a problem.   And it could also be the reason that, rumour has it, this is to be her final series.

However, whatever my reservations about Clara, they were nowhere near enough to detract from what was real return to form for the Doctor.  With my faith restored, and Mathieson penning next week’s episode as well, I will most definitely be tuning in again.

PS.  Frank Skinner as the almost-companion made me wonder…

As a child of the 90s, all the Companions I’ve seen have been female (Rory only stayed for Amy, so he doesn’t count).  How do how do you think a male Companion would get on?  Has it worked in the past?  What would the dynamic be?  And am I on the money about Clara, or just writing nonsense?  Do let me know your thoughts!

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Karen Gillan is a bald, blue alien, and the emotional core of the film is a dancing tree.  It’s not your standard comic-book movie.

And it starts badly for Peter Quill as his mother dies and he is kidnapped by aliens.  Fast forward 20 years or so and our protagonist is strolling across an alien planet looking for something to pilfer.  Of course, stealing the object in question begins a complex and exciting chain of events leading to a cataclysmic battle between good and evil.

But that doesn’t mean the film to itself too seriously: ‘I’m distracting you, turdblossom!’ is probably Quills’ finest moment.   Rocket was also on form with his (as it turns out completely unnecessary) demand that Quill steal a prosthetic leg.  I also liked that they made the main antagonist an actual, out-and-out baddie; no post-modern introspection or sympathy required, just shooting.  The soundtrack was also very clever and genuinely unique.  As Quill’s only connection with earth, his 70s/80s mix tape was by turns ridiculous and poignant.  Moonage Daydream playing as a spaceship glides into a criminal outpost/massive alien head was basically perfect.  I also loved ‘The Pina Colada’ song accompanying Quill’s escape from prison.

And fair play to everyone involved: it’s remarkable how quickly I accepted a talking raccoon and a sentient plant as characters, and just wanted things to get going.  The CGI was superb.   I know a film is in trouble if I’m sat there thinking, ‘Hmm, those effects aren’t bad.’  Because not only have I stopped caring about what’s going on, but the effects are visibly just that- effects.  There was none of that here.  Combined with excellent voice work from Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, I was completely convinced by the characters, an even started to care about them.

One slight criticism would be that there was a lot of plot and exposition to get into a 2-hour movie, and some of the less central characters seemed to get pretty short shrift. I suppose this was a result of the tension between keeping it a light-hearted Marvel romp while still giving us characters to root for.   But I would have loved to learn more about Gamora and Nebula.  Why did Thanos choose them? Was their relationship always hostile? Were there other ‘siblings’?  It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface… hang on, maybe this is actually a compliment.  And while we’re at it, how did Groot and Rocket team up? Is Groot just one of a species, or is he an experiment too? 

Ah, Groot.  I wasn’t kidding about him being the heart of the film.  Handy in a fight, but a gentle soul when circumstances allow, it felt like the only time the film slowed down enough to feel anything was because of Groot.  Groot growing a flower for a little girl, filling a room with tiny floating light-blooms, and a glorious little bop in the last scene were probably the most visually striking and heart-warming scenes in the whole film.

Which could be a bit of a problem, when you think about it.  Isn’t Quill meant to be focus of our attention?  Chris Pratt is great as the cheeky would-be ‘Star-Lord’, but I never really felt for the guy.  Even his final almost-sacrifice felt a bit ‘meh’.  He came across as more of an overgrown kid than anything else.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but alongside such a vibrant crew of outcasts, he did feel a bit redundant.  Ensemble pieces can work well, but you need someone for the film to pivot around.  When all’s said and done, Quill just didn’t seem that interesting.  I get that he eventually finds a family and a purpose in the Guardians, but it did make him hard to care about.  Maybe I’m just more of a DC person…

Or maybe they’re saving all that for the inevitable sequel.  Vague reference to an alien father apparently on the lookout for him suggest that, with the Guardians all assembled, Quill will take centre stage next time.  And I will definitely be watching.  Guardians of the Galaxy was always engaging, occasionally brilliant and never less than likable.  And with takings of over $400 million so far, it seems like there are plenty of people who thought so too.

But what did you think?  Did you enjoy the movie? Did it stick with the source material enough?  Did Glenn Closes’ hair frighten you a bit, too? Let me know.