n 2014, the Marvel cinematic universe expanded into outer space, and introduced us to the Guardians of the Galaxy, which (until

Deadpool) was their best movie so far. Yes, just when you thought you could hear the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped, it turned out that it was just the sound of director James Gunn’s rag- tag bunch of scrappy misfits, morally questionable anti- heroes, and anthropomorphic plant life, cutting through the base of the wooden keg to steal the show. And frankly, it was about time, because it was just what was needed after the tales of Captain America and the rest of the goody-two-shoes Avengers had started to wear a bit thin.

Well, now it’s 2017, and following on from the “Civil War” that was more like an ethics club for idiots, the Avengers have disappeared so far up their own moral high ground that even professional bad-boy billionaire Tony Stark is more of

a Tory boy than an Iron Man. So thank God for the return of the space cowboys, as this April sees the most eagerly awaited sequel from the MCU (until Deadpool 2). Yes, Star Lord and the boys (and girl) (and Racoon) (and, er, walking oak tree) are back in town for Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Tere’s another odds-defying mission, another bad guy trying to take over the worlds, and another mixtape of awesome tunes. But other than that, what’s new? Well, there are some new faces, as Kurt Russell, who’s always fantastic, turns up as Star Lords absent father, Ego. Tommy Flannigan (Sons of Anarchy) will also be joining the cast as the new member of the Ravagers, and apparently there’s also a little bit of Sylvester Stallone in there. Tere have been cynical whisperings from some corners of the net that bringing fan favourite Groot back as an itty-bitty cute little sapling is nothing more than a cheap ploy to “cute” up the whole thing and sell toys, but y’know. He’s hardly the fucking Ewoks, so I’m still calling this for film of the month.



lagued with production issues, studio

interference and extensive re-shoots, Rogue One could easily have been a shambles, and while it is by no means perfect it’s infinitely better than the shitstorm of trade agreements, midichlorians and Jar-Jar Binks that the previous prequels gave us.

Set immediately before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, Rogue One sees a rag-tag band of misfits led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) come together to steal the plans to the Death Star in order to help the Rebel Alliance in their battle against the Empire.

It’s nice to see a truly diverse ensemble cast for the first time in a Star Wars movie and whilst Jyn Erso is a rather boring character, the rest more than make up for it. Honourable rebel with blood on his hands Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), scruffy assassin with a massive repeater cannon Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and paranoid Tie-Fighter pilot that has defected to the rebels Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), are all interesting and well rounded characters, but

it’s the deadpan drollery of reprogrammed Imperial droid K2SO (Alan Tudyk) and blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), that stand up there with the countless other iconic characters of the series.

Director Gareth Edwards does a good job in delivering a punchy, action packed story that remains true to the existing universe whilst maintaining an identity of its own, and even though a lot of CGI is used many of the sets are physical, giving the film a gritty, grimy, lived in feel that was sorely lacking from the prequel trilogy. Tere are mis-steps though. Forrest Whitaker’s Saw Garrera is a truly laughable character and the less said about his brain-sucking pet monster the better. Tere were also a couple of CGI characters that were resurrected (quite literally in one case) with some decidedly iffy animation that were really jarring on the big screen - hopefully it will be less noticeable during home viewing.

So Disney are now two for two for their Star Wars movies. Te bar has been set high - lets hope they

continue to deliver. DREW

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