Second Time Galaxy Savers

G U A R D I A N S   O F   T H E   G A L A X Y  –  V O L U M E   2

Guardians 2

Cast : Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel

Director : James Gunn

My Rating : 4/5

The Blurb: 

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.

My Review :

I have had a few difficulties putting my thoughts and feelings for this movie into words. In short: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a hoot and a half.

Star-Lord a.k.a Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot are back along with some old and new friends. Like the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie this is a fun super hero movie, with lots of enjoyable moments and amusing gags. There was a nice mixture of both humour and sentiment which in terms of the storytelling flowed well.

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One of the best things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the casting and this movie is no exception. The main cast interacted so well together that you immediately forgot that two of them were CGI. There appeared to be no awkwardness or weird moments where they are talking above the CGI characters head or to their crotch. Whoever was in charge of the pointing did a good job. The supporting cast were also good and interesting to watch. Baby Groot with his adorable behaviour undoubtedly stole the show, he was just so cute.

Surprisingly one of my favourite characters in this movie turned out to be Yondu (Michael Rooker). I loved his interaction with Rocket and Baby Groot (Twig).

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There were however a few inconsistencies with this movie. The CGI effects in places were excellent and really drew you into the movie. The scenery in places was amazing however some of it especially while they were on Ego’s planet looked computerised and blocky. It was not enough to be bothered about really just made me a little sad after everything else was so good. I took a really big dislike to the gold people. I found their virtual fleet irritating.  The pacing was also a bit… well… different. There is not a lot of action but the movie itself did not drag.

The soundtrack Awesome Mixtape #2 was excellent and all the music worked really well. In fact any movie which begins with Mr Blue Sky gets my immediate attention.

Overall I loved this movie. I enjoyed the fact that they did not feel the need to pump it full of unnecessary action but concentrated on characterisation of the team. I felt as though the storytelling was good and the humour did not divert from that. It is laugh-out-loud funny and just as enjoyable as the first movie if not more so. I even liked Sylvester Stallone.

I think I have covered everything I can say without providing you with a multitude of spoilers. If you love Marvel and enjoyed the first Guardians movie then you will love this.

Baby Groot

West End Girls

West End Girls

W E S T   E N D   G I R L S

JENNY COLGAN

Rating : 3 / 5

Blurb

The streets of London are paved with gold …allegedly. They may be twin sisters, but Lizzie and Penny Berry are complete opposites – Penny is blonde, thin and outrageous; Lizzie quiet, thoughtful and definitely not thin. The one trait they do share is a desire to DO something with their lives, and as far as they are concerned, the place to get noticed is London. Out of the blue they discover they have a grandmother living in Chelsea – and when she has to go into hospital, they find themselves flat-sitting on the King’s Road. But, as they discover, it’s not as easy to become It Girls as they’d imagined, and west end boys aren’t at all like Hugh Grant …

My Review 

It took me a stupidly long amount of time to complete this book for several reasons. One reason was I just could not find time to read. When I did find time to read, this book did not excite me enough to want to pick it up and carry on reading.

I was quite disappointed by this book as I usually enjoy Jenny Colgan’s offerings a lot more. I found the two lead characters, twins Lizzie and Penny irritating. The supporting characters were not engaging and there appeared to be a lot of words for what turned out to be quite a mediocre tale. It may have just been how I was feeling and I have projected this onto the book. Despite my criticisms however there were some nice touches which boosted up my rating.

Even though both sisters end up exactly where you expect them to be roughly 4 or 5 chapters in, at the end of the book, I kept reading because there were little unexpected glimpses of light. Both sisters though twins are very different to each other. Lizzie is very grounded and Penny is a bit, well, very into herself. If this book had focused just on Penny I don’t think I would have finished it. Even though I found Lizzie just as irritating in parts I did want to know what would happen to her.

I really enjoyed the underlying story which involved the twins father. I wish that had been explored a little bit more. I also like the twins mother a lot but she rarely made an appearance in the story. I wonder if Jenny Colgan has considered doing a spin-off with the twins mother?

I will not recommend this book and I have tried to make this review spoiler free so you can make up your minds.

Try The Grey Stuff

B E   O U R   G U E S T

 

One of the first places we went to during our visit to Walt Disney World was the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. The only reason I wanted to go here was to meet Beast from Beauty and the Beast, however the whole experience was really enjoyable.

Even though we had made a reservation we still had a little wait before our table became available. When your table is ready they come out and greet you and you get to hold a candle stick as you make your way to the table. We were both thrilled when we discovered our table was in the Ballroom, not that we would have minded the West Wing, but the Ballroom was where we wanted to be.

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The napkins on the table were shaped like a rose which was a nice touch. If there was one thing I noticed about our whole stay at Walt Disney World is that they are great at the finishing touches and tiny details.

Our server was very friendly and very helpful. The food took hardly any time to arrive and the portions were a good size. We were so full but we both wanted the desert because on the desert trolley they had the “Grey Stuff”… and it was delicious.

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The Grey Stuff

At the end of our meal we were encouraged to explore the castle. We visited the West Wing, where the slashed portrait of Prince Adam is hung. We watched the enchanted rose drop a petal. Then we made our way to where the Master of the House (as he is referred too) greets his guests. During our meal we watched the Master enter and leave the Ballroom several times. On a couple of occasions their were little girls dressed up as Belle and Beast would dance with them.

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Our wait to meet Beast was not very long. Beast was our first character meeting so we were a little unsure of what to do, however the cast members were very helpful.

It was a really wonderful experience and I would recommend for every one who is visiting Walt Disney World to have a meal here.

Dear Billy Sometimes…

K O N G   :  

 S K U L L   I S L A N D 

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Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman

Rating : 3/5

My Review : 

I love a good old fashioned monster movie. My favourites of course are any that the Monster Maker Ray Harryhausen worked on. I love the combination of the stop-frame animation and live action in the early movies. I also love seeing how this has evolved over the years into the CGI/Special Effects we now have. While Harryhausen never got to see his vision of Kong come alive, Kong: Skull Island is reminiscent of many of the old monster movies including The Mysterious Island. While I love a bit reminiscing in movies, easter eggs and so forth, originality was severely lacking in this movie.

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Unlike previous Kong movies which are usually set in the 1920’s/30’s era, this one is set at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. This did give the movie a different feel and an interesting perspective. In typical movie storytelling style though it is not the beast we should all be scared of but those who claim to be our protectors but who follow their own selfish motives for their own reward.

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The storytelling is long, drawn out providing an uneven pace to the movie. There are a few scenes that I feel were only included to show off the mastery of the CGI artists and had no relevance to the overall story. Kong is not the only thing on this Island to be oversized. Due to this the develop of the story and subsequently the characters is found wanting, leading to uneven performances from most of the lead actors. Tip: Don’t get too attached to a lot of the cast only a few actually make their way off the Island.

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Visually the shots of the Storm and the Island scenes are amazing. The Island location is stunning and the settings, props and costumes are all well thought out. I specifically enjoyed the shots around the tribal village and the detail that went into this. This includes the photo’s which Brie Larson’s character takes of the tribes people, these scenes were cute.

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There is a Monarch Website for Kong: Skull Island 

<<<Click here for the Monarch Website>>>

If you do go and see this movie, make sure you stay to the end of the credits as there is an end scene. This scene though not very exciting expands on the secret scientific organisation known as MONARCH (first introduced in Godzilla: Awakening) and their theories in respect of the various monster related myths, stories and fables told world wide. Setting us up of course for the next movie.

Worth watching just don’t expect greatness.

How Can A Story Never Die?

B E A U T Y   A N D   T H E   B E A S T 

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Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, etc…

My Rating: 5/5 (I’m being very generous)

My Review :  (Spoiler Free) 

In equal measure I was both nervous and excited about seeing this movie. Was Disney about to ruin one of my favourite movies of all time? I watched the first couple of trailers which showed some promise but as anticipation for the movie built up and trailers, clips etc… were abounding everywhere, I refused to watch them. I wanted to be amazed by the movie not the teasers. On Friday, the day of release, I went to the cinema and sat while Disney brought the cartoon I loved so much to life.

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It is difficult to find the right words for this review without sounding too gushing. Needless to say I really enjoyed it. Yes it has it’s faults, it is not perfect but overall it is immensely enjoyable. I loved the fact they used Beast’s Castle in the Disney Intro (shown above). Even Emma Watson (I’m not a fan, Sorry) as Belle did not destroy the movie for me. To be honest I’m a little confused by other reviews which are commending Emma for portraying Belle as a gritty, strong minded feminist – firstly they need to look up the definition of feminist and secondly, I saw no difference in Emma’s Belle than the Belle in the animation. Have they not watched the cartoon version? My only distraction with Emma’s Belle is that one moment her skirt would be tucked into her bloomers then it would be out, then in again. I think the continuity department needs readjustment.

Belle and father

Beast though is my favourite character in the original animation but also in this movie. Dan Steven’s did a very good job as Beast, if he had ruined him I would have never forgiven him. Initially I was a little unsure of his look.He is a little different to the cartoon version but it did not take me long to grow used to it.

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In all honesty I was a little disappointed by Luke Evan’s portrayal as Gaston. I did not find him as villainous as the original, more comical. Josh Gad’s performance also though entertaining, was just lacking something. This might be because I had very high hopes for these characters in live action form and I felt a little let down. It also might be due to the fact that the rest of the cast were so good. All of them, were excellent. I especially enjoyed the voice performances of Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Emma Thompson as Mrs Pott’s. I defy you not cry at the furniture. You will feel stupid but trust me everyone I was with in the cinema were sobbing.

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The cinematography from the first scene to the last is wonderfully shot. The detail in each frame should be applauded, it is a visual feast. In places it is very CGI heavy, but that is to be expected from a fantasy movie like this, when they are bringing to life quite an ambitious animation.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, while they have kept most of the songs from the animation, there are some new lyrics which work well. In prologue begins the same but then changes and makes a little more sense. The role of the Enchantress and why she showed up is also explained (sort of). There are also a few new songs which work really well. My favourite being “How Can A Moment Last Forever?”. It is sung during the movie by both Belle’s Father and Belle, but Celine Dion sings it on the end credits and it is beautiful.

While this movie has a number of references to the original Disney animation, there is some originality in the storytelling. There are some interesting insights into the backgrounds of both Beast and Belle as well as a number of nice touches involving the other cast members.

I had so much love for the animation that I did not believe I would like this new re-telling, however I was proved wrong. I really enjoyed this movie. Ignore the bad reviews, go and see it for yourselves with an open mind.

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Here’s to the Ones Who Dream…

 

L A   L A   L A N D 

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Director: Damien Chazelle

La La Land tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone) an inspiring young actress whose path seems destined to cross with struggling Jazz Musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Both are finding it hard to realise their dreams in the city of angels, that wears down and crushes so many young hopefuls.

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Spring came early with arrival of  La La Land. This vibrant musical was a delightful splash of colour on a drab and dreary winters day. With its catchy soundtrack and forever sunny “cinemascope” backdrop, leaving the cinema in a bad mood would be difficult.

Personally I have never felt as though the musical has ever died, but I do feel as though it has evolved. La La Land though hopefully hails the return of the iconic Hollywood musical. Many of the scenes look and feel iconic, strangely familiar with so many nods to the classic Hollywood Musical such as Singing in the Rain and an American in Paris. This movie moves with effortless ease from one scene to the next.

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This is Stone and Goslings third movie outing together. The chemistry between them is palpable, causing the viewing audience to be sucked into their love story. Individually their performances work just as well and are equally convincing.Gosling learnt to play the jazz piano especially for this role and it does add something a little more tangible to his character. Stone’s performance was convincing but I found her singing weak compared to that of Goslings. Though her solo song “The Audition” (Here’s to the Ones who Dream) was probably my favourite song in the movie, that and of course City of Stars.

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Overall this is a enjoyable feel good movie, bursting with colour and life with a pinch of melancholy for good measure. If you go and watch this movie looking for greatness you will leave slightly disappointed. Personally I do not understand all the buzz surrounding it. La La Land does not provide greatness but it does provide much needed relief from a sad dismal world.

Just A Girl Standing In Front of a Boy

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J U S T   A   G I R L   S T A N D I N G   I N   F R O N T   O F   A   B O Y 

LUCY-ANNE HOLMES 

RATING: 3/5

Blurb : 

My love story may not be the sort you read about in books or see in films . . . Love stories have glorious highs and ghastly lows. But when it comes to my own life, I’d have to say, you can keep your fabulous highs and I’ll happily steer clear of the terrible lows.’

After a rocky start in life, Jenny Taylor, 27, star receptionist at the local doctors surgery, has things all worked out thanks to ‘The Smiling Fanny Manifesto’ – a list of 10 daily things she must do to keep the blues at bay. But her life is turned upside down when she meets aspiring musician Joe King. And reliable boyfriend Matt proposes. And then her mum leaves her dad and moves into Jenny’s flat determined to ‘bond’.

My Review :

The one and only reason I decided to read this book was purely due to the title.( If you think it sounds familiar it is because it’s a quote from Notting Hill.)

Jenny Taylor’s life has been difficult, mainly due to her parents insensitive naming of their only daughter. (Think about it, Jenny Taylor = Genitalia) Due to this Jenny aka “Fanny” often used to get a little blue, hence the reason why her best friend Philippa created the “Smiling Fanny Manifesto”.  Now Jenny is living her life the way she wants it and is quite happy, or so she thinks! That is until her mother turns up unexpectedly announcing that she has left Jenny’s dad and is going to stay with her for a while. On the same night her boyfriend Matt proposes, which is great right…? Well, until handsome, rock star, Joe King appears on the scene, who certainly has his eye on Jenny. What will Jenny do?

This novel was my first foray into one of Lucy-Anne Holmes books and overall it was quite pleasant experience. Lucy’s characters are interesting, funny but more importantly they are real. They may not have been unique but they were very likeable. She certainly created an interesting heroine whose decisions at times were somewhat questionable. My favourite character though was Joe King, who was pretty goofy but very charming. Philippa and Al (Jenny’s flatmate) were also great comic characters who were a wonderful addition to the plot.

I love the fact Jenny and Philippa have a passion for clothes and have an outfit for every occasion including guided tours of their local area. Another nice little side story was how the Smiling Fanny Manifesto not only affected Jenny’s life but also the lives of those around her.

However, as much I enjoyed the story and the characters there were times when I felt as though I was reading the same things over and over again. There were also points in the plot that were very similar to other books I had read and therefore easily predicable. This is the reason why I only gave it a 3/5 instead of a 4/5.

Overall though it is a pleasant and easy read. There are times when you will laugh, cringe, cheer and shed the odd tear or two.