Movie Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki
James Gunn

It’s hard to believe that most people had never even heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy prior to 2014, because in the three years since the release of the first movie, they’ve become some of the most popular characters in the entire MCU. While there was certainly an immense amount of pressure on returning director James Gunn to create a worthy follow-up, you wouldn’t know it from the self-assured confidence that the film exudes. Admittedly, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” isn’t as fresh as its predecessor, but it’s almost as much as fun, and that’s to the credit of Gunn and his excellent cast, who have once again delivered an offbeat, action-packed space opera (with yet another killer soundtrack) that doesn’t skimp on humor or heart.

After saving the universe from Kree fanatic Ronan the Accuser, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Guardians have parlayed their newfound fame into a lucrative career as mercenaries. But when they’re hired by a race of pretentious, gold-skinned beings called the Sovereign to kill an interdimensional beast in exchange for Gamora’s captured half-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), the Guardians manage to piss off their employers by stealing some of the valuable batteries they were charged with protecting. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Guardians are rescued at the last minute by an ancient celestial entity called Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Peter’s long-lost father. Though Peter is thrilled to finally meet his dad and learn more about his secret heritage, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is suspicious of Ego’s true motives. Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker) is recruited by the Sovereign’s High Priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) to track down and apprehend the Guardians for punishment, leading to a mutiny among his crew when he refuses to turn them over.

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Movie Review: “In a Valley of Violence”

Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, James Ransone, Taissa Farmiga, Karen Gillan
Ti West

Filmmaker Ti West has made his most conventionally enjoyable movie to date. Best known for horror films like “The House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers” and “The Sacrament,” West tackles a new genre with “In a Valley of Violence,” a western starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta. While West’s previous films get you squirming, his latest effort may have you cheering thanks to its sparse, enigmatic storytelling.

Paul (Hawke) isn’t exactly a loner. Although he’s tortured and on a path to nowhere, he has Abby at his side. Abby is his dog, and she sometimes looks after him just as much as he looks after her. When Paul enters the rundown town of Denton, nicknamed the “valley of violence,” he crosses paths with the hotheaded Gilly (James Ransone), the son of local sheriff, The Marshal (Travolta). Gilly thinks he’s the most dangerous man in town and challenges any man who questions his power. But when Paul leaves him bloodied, bruised and embarrassed after a beating that in no way constitues as a fight, Gilly and his men go after Paul’s dog for revenge, unaware that they’re dealing with one seriously flawed, dangerous military man who’s trained to kill. As Paul puts it, Gilly and his men left him with nothing, and he’s going to leave them with even less.

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Your appointment with the Doctor is hereby scheduled

“Doctor Who,” that is. (What, like you were expecting it to be Dr. Pepper?)

At 9 PM on April 17th, everyone’s favorite Time Lord…well, statistically speaking, anyway…is making his return to BBC America in his new guise, which has him looking remarkably like actor Matt Smith. He is the Eleventh Doctor, if you’re keeping count, and he will be accompanied by a new traveling companion: Amy Pond, played by the highly cute Karen Gillan.

According to the publicity department, they will be exploring sixteenth century Venice, France during the 1890s, and the United Kingdom in the far future, where the nation is floating in space, and the new series will feature episodes written by Richard Curtis (“Pirate Radio,” “Love Actually”) and Toby Whithouse (“Being Human,” “Torchwood”) and guest stars including Alex Kingston (“ER,” “Flash Forward”), James Corden (“Gavin & Stacey,” “The History Boys”) and Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo (“The Secret Life of Bees,” “Hotel Rwanda”) and Tony Curran (“24”).

You can get more info by heading over to the “Doctor Who” portion of the BBC America website, but for now, enjoy this trailer for the new season. Is this a Dalek I see before me…? Why, yes, I believe it is…