Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s summertime so of course it is the season for action-packed fun in the sun movies! Now the most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series came out last month in May but I feel it is the perfect kind of movie on a summer day. It’s funny and fresh and a whole lot of fun, which is why I am giving it my Ticket Stub Love stamp of approval.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the Guardians back as they continue to struggle to work together as a family while traveling throughout the cosmos. The mystery of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s true parentage comes into play and sets things in motion for new alliances, betrayals, and of course mix tapes.

I think one of the great things about Guardians is that it’s not like other Marvel movies. It’s funnier and more clever, with stories that keep you entertained and casts you grow to love more than the overdone Avengers. That’s what made the first Guardians so great: the fact that it was different. Yes it has a superhero team, but the vibe is completely different. It’s light and colorful with retro tones and humor that can’t be matched. Did I think the second installment lived up to the first? Maybe not. Maybe the story felt a bit like it had been done before and the soundtrack not quite as memorable but it’s still a great film.

The Guardians ensemble is such a strong element of the films. Christ Pratt as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot. Two words: baby groot! Definitely the highlight of the film for me personally. He’s adorable! The film had a solid story but perhaps what I appreciated most was the bigger role for the character Yondu, in a fantastic performance by Michael Rooker. Playing a new character, Kurt Russel brought great charisma and flow. Pom Klementieff was excellent as Mantis and I am excited to see what else is in store for her character in future installments.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is such a fun movie and the laughs never stop. It proves the series once again to be a sure audience pleaser with stunning visuals, lovable characters, and a story that manages to be full of action, humor, and heart all at once. While maybe not as strong as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is one that people of all ages can enjoy and one that I fully recommend.

ALL IN ALL: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, fresh, and fun with its endearing and hilarious ensemble back again with plenty of action and even more heart.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 4.5 /5 Ticket Stubs 

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff

Run Time: 2 hrs 16 min, rated PG-13

Year: 2017

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Passengers

Two strangers alone on a spaceship. Make that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence alone on a space ship. Sounds intriguing right? I mean I would want to see that movie. Passengers has all the ingredients for a solid movie. An interesting premise, cool sets and effects, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. All it really needed was a well crafted story. What a story it lacks though.

On a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from induced hibernation 90 years too early.

Okay just read that premise. Again does it not sound interesting? That is the movie the trailers were advertising. That is the movie that I went in thinking I would see. Sadly it is not. Here is my main issue with Passengers and what I gather has been many people’s: Passengers is misleading. It really is. However I am going to refrain from giving anything away. The film was marketed in a way that was not fair to its actual material and to the people paying money to see it, and I personally found that frustrating. It also makes it very hard to overlook the true premise, which is a little more difficult to accept.

Not only was the film misleading, but the story itself was pretty lackluster once you get past the revelations not given away in the promos. The film felt sort of like Titanic, Gravity, and a bit of The Martian all rolled up into one. The action was severely anticlimactic and the character development poor. Good chunks of the movie were solely devoted to showing off how hot the main actors are. It only goes to show my theory that if one of the two characters was not as attractive, then none of the events in the film would have happened. It all felt vain at times and I found myself with many questions at the end.

All this is not to say there are no positive aspects of Passengers because there are! Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances were great, as was their chemistry. They were not given the best material to work with though. Michael Sheen was actually a bright standout in the film as the robot bartender Arthur. His character was charming and his performance was simply refreshing. The costumes and sets had a nice aesthetic to them and while more could have been done with the visual effects, I found them overall satisfying.

To put it simply, Passengers made me frustrated. Not only was I upset with how the story developed but I also felt that there was so much missed opportunity with the film. Again all the key ingredients were there. It just needed a better story. That being said, I enjoyed Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in the film. While I might not recommend seeing Passengers in theaters, I feel like some may still enjoy watching the film.

ALL IN ALL: Even with great chemistry from its two leads, Passengers still comes up short with a misleading and lackluster story.

Also, introducing our new ticket stub rating system (thanks Aimee J)!

PASSENGERS 2.5/5 Ticket Stubs

ticketstublove_ratings_2-5stubs

Arrival

After a long slump (truly sorry my last review was in June), I have finally seen a film that has motivated me to write again: Arrival. I really enjoyed this film. In fact, I loved it. It exceeded my expectations and left me speechless. I can easily name it as my favorite movie this year (so far). However it may not be for everyone.

After 12 mysterious spacecrafts touch down in different locations across the globe, the military enlists the aid of linguist professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try to translate the alien communications before a global war breaks out.

Arrival was not the movie I expected. From first glance it may seem like a typical alien invasion type film but do not be fooled. I prefer to describe Arrival as a film that simply has aliens in it. Truth be told, while the alien aspect of the film does play a very large and central role to the plot, the film is revealed to be much larger and introspective. This reason alone is why I do not feel the movie may meet everyone’s expectations. Certainly some sci-fi fans who go in solely expecting an alien invasion movie will be somewhat disappointed. Arrival is not a simple popcorn flick. It is an intelligent film that makes one think, so much that even I cannot stop going over the film in my head.

Arrival is full of emotion. Right from the beginning, it grabs your heart and your mind and does not let go until the very end, where truth be told I found myself in tears. It is simply a beautiful film. With strong performances from Amy Adams and a gorgeous score by Jóhann Jóhannsson (whose previous work includes films such as The Theory of Everything), the film takes the viewer away into a parallel world. The story line of the film is also so smart and intricately constructed. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, the plot of Arrival forgoes conventional storytelling and constantly reels in one’s concentration. Seriously the film made me gasp.

I wholeheartedly recommend this film and I also suggest going in as blind as possible. Arrival may not be what it is pictured as, but nevertheless, it is a powerful and moving film that grows into so much more. The overarching themes and decisions the plot presents resonate with the viewer even after the credits roll. Arrival definitely is a sci-fi film, but it is more so a film about life-about endings and beginnings. Arrival is a well done film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ALL IN ALL: While not the typical alien movie, Arrival unveils itself as a beautiful and poignant film with themes of life that resonate deep.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Year: 2016

 

 

The Martian

I recently got the opportunity to watch The Martian for free so of course I jumped on that chance not only because it was free (holla!) but also because it is an acclaimed movie up for many awards (7 Oscar noms!). I am happy to report that I ended up really enjoying The Martian! It is an all around fun movie to watch!

In the year 2035, astronaut Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) is presumed to be dead and left behind on Mars after an extreme dust storm forces his crew to leave him behind. Alone on a hostile planet with little supplies, Whatney must use his ingenuity and wit to survive and signal to those on Earth that he is still alive.

Like I said before, I believe The Martian to be a very enjoyable movie to watch. There’s action, adventure, drama, comedy, and space! What’s not to love? Going back to the comedy part, The Martian was actually a really funny movie, in huge part to Matt Damon. He did a great job in the film and his character was so likable and hilarious. The comedic moments helped lighten the film at times and added to the entertainment. However while the film can be funny at times, I would not categorize it as a comedy (*cough cough* Golden Globes *cough cough*).

The ensemble cast was awesome too with stars like Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor; I mean the list goes on! The film really has you thinking about space and if a lot of the elements in the movie would really be possible (anyone know?). There were parts in The Martian that had me laughing out loud and others that had me gripping the edge of my seat. It is a great film for fans of many different genres and I am certain people will have as fun a time watching it as I did!

ALL IN ALL: The Martian boats an ensemble cast lead by an excellent performance by Matt Damon and is an all around enjoyable film to watch.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña,Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Year: 2015

poster from: http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/20th-century-fox/martian2015.jpg

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Confession time: I actually saw this movie over Thanksgiving weekend but I have just been so busy lately that only now am I finding time to write my review. Though its been a while since I have seen it and the movie probably is not on many of your minds anymore, I nevertheless have to stay true to my commitment to review every movie I see in theaters. I also think The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 deserves a review as it is the last film of my one of my favorite book/movie series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 serves as the final installment of the Hunger Games film series. In Mockingjay- Part 2, the story continues as leader of the rebellion Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) travels with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and others to the Capitol in order to win the war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and save what holds dear to her.

Let me start off with a small complaint about the splitting of the last book into two movies. While I get why they did it and it is also nice to not have to rush through anything or have too much of the story omitted, I still do not think it was completely necessary especially since I feel like the split affected the audience attendance and reaction. I honestly forgot what happened in Mockingjay going in to the theater simply because it had been so long since I saw the last movie or read the book. My stance is that if they were able to fit all of Catching Fire into one movie, then Mockingjay is easily doable but no worries, it really is not that huge of deal.

I thought overall that Mockingjay – Part 2 was a very well done film and I enjoyed it. It was not my favorite of the series (for me it is still Catching Fire), but Mockingjay – Part 2 provided a satisfying ending. One of the reasons I disliked Mockingjay Part- 1 was that it felt like rising action most of the time. The great thing about Mockingjay Part- 2 though is that it starts right off into the storyline and action (a reason why Part 1 is necessary to watch). The length of the film felt like nothing as the pacing was fast and well-managed.

The great supporting cast though was not featured much at all which was very disappointing. I would have loved more screen time for characters like Johanna, Beetee, Effie, etc. Meanwhile the main cast gave some great performances, in particular Josh Hutcherson. He was fantastic and his performance is severely underrated! In the books and in the past films as well, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was more emphasized, but not in Mockingjay Part- 2, which I appreciated. The action and the war against the Capitol was the main focus of the movie and rightfully so.

I would say that if you are a fan of the Hunger Games series, watch Mockingjay – Part 2 because you will not be disappointed. It is an enjoyable film and very well done, a conclusion the series deserves.

ALL IN ALL: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a satisfying final installment of the Hunger Games series with the right focus and direction needed to conclude a great film series.

Ant-Man

Nowadays I feel like there are so many superhero movies coming out that I honestly cannot keep track of them all. They tend to sort of mesh together in my head in categories like Marvel or DC. You see movie studios are smart though. They know people will go to see big superhero blockbusters so that’s why they put more and more into production. I did go to see Ant-Man, and though I was not particularly psyched to see it or anything, I actually really enjoyed it.

In Ant-Man, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), armed with a super-suit with the ability to shrink in size but increase in strength, must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant-Man was a quintessential superhero movie, with action, drama, and comedy all in one. Paul Rudd was great in the film, bringing some needed lightheartedness while still playing the role of a father/hero out to save the world perfectly. Sure Ant-Man might not be the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it was fun and enjoyable.

I will say though, the best part of the movie hands-down was Michael Peña as Luis, Scott Lang’s ex-con buddy. He was hilarious and brought the most laughs to the movie! The scenes with his crazy long, off-topic stories were definitely among the most funny and memorable parts of the film. That’s one of the things I really liked about Ant-Man, it was funny and light a lot of the time. The action scenes and visual effects were well done too, especially since you have a guy shrinking down to insect size most of the time. Ant-Man has the ability to draw in a wide audience and please them too.

ALL IN ALL: Ant-Man is probably one of the more humorous Marvel movies and is able to also blend in great action and story into one entertaining film.

pic: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjM2NTQ5Mzc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTcxMDI2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg

 

 

Jurassic World

As said in our last post, let’s get into the summer blockbusters people! We shall start with the number one movie at the top of the box office currently: Jurassic World! I got to see it with a couple of friends yesterday and let me tell you it was a real treat.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World is set 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park and takes place on the same island of Isla Nublar where a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has been running for 10 years. Chaos ensues when a genetically modified dinosaur, Indominus Rex, breaks loose and creates havoc across the park.

Jurassic World to me was that kind of classic summer movie. It was a lot of fun to watch! There was great action, little bit of romance, drama, DINOS. The dinosaurs and special effects looked good to me, though I cannot imagine filming and having to scream and act scared to a nonexistent dinosaur.

Chris Pratt was a “bad-ass” (as referred to in the movie) leading guy and was very likable so kudos to him. Bryce Dallas Howard also did a nice job, but I need to complain about her outfit in the movie. High heels..really? You expect me to believe she lasted that whole day in high heels and even outran a T-Rex in them? No, just no.

At times, the movie tried to take on too much, like having an emotional moment between two young brothers about their parents’ pending divorce. It was obvious though it was all for the sake of character depth and was simply unnecessary in the end. Ain’t nobody got time for this! It’s dino time! Also, you would think that these people would learn to not open up that island again but noooo apparently humans still think they can control dinosaurs. Number one lesson learned from this movie: always listen to Chris Pratt.

ALL IN ALL: Jurassic World is a fun, dino-filled film that is to be simply enjoyed, not examined.

Oh, almost forgot this…  dino Seriously the best part of the movie, my friends and I doubled over laughing during that scene!

image from: http://screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/jurassic-world-own-raptors-poster.jpg

 

 

The Huger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1

Shoutout to Aimee J for taking me to see Mockingjay for my birthday! Here is a link to the review podcast we did together for Aimee J’s site! Okay so let’s talk. Out of all The Hunger Games books, Mockingjay was my least favorite. I am going to try super hard throughout this post to not give any spoilers whatsoever for those shameful people who have not yet read the books, but let’s just say the book was too different than the other two and much more political for my liking. I was not expecting much going in to see the movie, but I am pleasantly surprised with the result!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) after she has survived the Hunger Games twice and finds herself in District 13. Becoming the symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol, she must unite the districts and save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the hands of President Snow.

Overall it was a good movie. Not the best, I still like the previous films more, but it was a surprisingly well done adaptation of the novel. Kudos Francis Lawrence for making such a dislikeable book into an enjoyable movie. I was always on the edge about Mockingjay being split into two films because honestly if they were able to fit Catching Fire into one, then Mockingjay would definitely work as one too. However, it is nice to see them not have to rush or take too many scenes out. The changes that were made were fine. It was a great move to make Effie into a much more prominent character. However, I am not sure how the change in President Coin (Julianne Moore)’s character will play out because it really is much different than that in the book. Not to give anything away, but it also surprised me where the movie decided to end. You won’t be disappointed but it was interesting to see how it foreshadows Part 2.

Let’s talk about my favorite part of the movie. The Hanging Tree. Readers of the book will recognize it as a song Katniss sings in Mockingjay briefly but the movie took it to a whole ‘nother level. First of all, Jennifer Lawrence did a great job singing along with whoever laid down the track because you just get goosebumps when you start to hear the music rise and the actions in the movie being played out to the tune. It is simply haunting, beautiful, and worthy of praise. In all seriousness though, it reflects the tone of the film. Mockingjay is not at all similar to the last two films. The games are gone, and this is war. The one person who I really thought encapsulated this shift into darkness was Josh Hutcherson. What a great performance! His visible and emotional downfall is really powerful though he has substantially less screen time.

Critics of the movie: I get where you are coming from. Mockingjay Part 1 does feel like mostly rising action but it does a great job of leading into the events of Part 2. Fans of the book will be pleased overall and it is a well done adaptation. Yes, I am still not a fan of Mockingjay in the series but the film was satisfying. Also, it was a nice tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman so I do recommend that you see it!

PG 13, 123 minutes

Interstellar double review

And we’re back! Fall movies are abound and the big one right now is Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Interstellar tells the story of a team of space travelers who travel through a wormhole in search of new habitable planet. The movie has received mainly positive reviews but still many viewers and critics alike are split. In a segment new to Ticket Stub Love, we have brought in two viewers of the film to do a review and talk about their very different opinions!

Amanda A

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on.” –Tupac

Tupac must have anticipated that Interstellar was going to come out because he perfectly describes the attitude that everybody watching this movie should have. We’re talking about a plot that centers on a mission to find a habitable planet in another galaxy. Of course you are going to have to suspend your belief and just accept that not everything is going to make sense!

I actually really liked this movie right after I finished watching it. It reminded me of Inception (long plot with many flashbacks), but it has a much more satisfying ending. Then I came home and tried to think about the plausibility of some of the events in the movie. Then I gave up and decided to accept Interstellar for what it is: a movie with a great plot, great acting, and fascinating premise.

The premise is worth pointing out. In the movie, the earth can’t produce any more food, so massive dust storms appear. At one point, Matthew McConaughey’s character says, “This world’s a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now.” Interstellar is basically saying that if we are more environmentally-friendly, then we will be able to stay on Earth, and Matthew McConaughey won’t be sent far away. What better argument is there for appreciating our planet?

 

Asha A

Unfortunately Asha A was not able to do a full review and I also wanted to do this post before Interstellar faded out of the limelight so I’m just going to summarize her thoughts. Right when she came home from viewing the the film, her first words were “Wow, that has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen.” Pretty extreme right? Here is her explanation though. The main problem was the time, which truth be told, 169 minutes is a bit too long for a movie that does not fulfill it. Character development was lacking along with a logical plot that could actually be understood. Some of the scenes with Matthew McConaughey thinking philosophically were simply too ridiculous and reminded her of his Lincoln car commercials, and the visual effects in Gravity were much better according to her.

A very big thank you to our two reviewers Amanda A and Asha A! Well folks, it’s up to you to decide who’s side you’re on and what you think about Interstellar.

Interstellar: PG-13, 169 min

image: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Blog_Images/interstellar3.jpg

Divergent

Earlier this year I read the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth and totally enjoyed it! It brought me back to my Hunger Games days and my reading got so bad that I had to tie the book up in a drawer so I could focus on my work.  Naturally when I heard about the movie, I was pretty psyched and I finally got to see it this past weekend. Though there were flaws, Divergent was overall pretty entertaining.

Divergent takes place in a dystopian world where people are divided into factions by human virtues. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) though discovers that she is Divergent and will never fit into any one faction. Soon she and the mysterious Four (Theo James) learn about a sinister plot looming in their seemingly perfect society and must find out a way to stop it before it’s too late.

As always, I recommend to always read the book first. However, I went to see it with some of my friends who had never before heard about the series, but still understood and enjoyed the movie. Divergent has gotten many mixed reviews and though I agree with most of it, I feel that many people are comparing it to The Hunger Games. Yes both take place in a dystopian society with a strong female lead, but the stories are very different (however I still liked Hunger Games better).

Fans of the book will be disappointed with some aspects of the film such as the nonexistent appearances of some crucial characters and multiple missing scenes. For me, though the film was pretty long (139 minutes), it flew by way too fast and you hardly got to know any of the characters. Shailene Woodley and Theo James (very handsome by the way!) fit their roles perfectly and I enjoyed their screen time, but the supporting cast, many of whom are very important to the plot, were overlooked. Kate Winslet, who plays a faction leader names Jeanine, did great too but her character was much bigger in the film than in the book. I also hated how all the action seemed to take place in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Better timing was needed.

This is a very non significant complaint but I thought the sets could have been more impressive. The Dauntless faction’s compound was described in the book to have this huge underground cavern and ravine, but in the movie, it just looked like an empty warehouse with some boxes and tarps. Many of the sets seemed too drab.

To conclude, the film did feel a bit weak overall, but I still enjoyed it. Teens and some fans of the book would probably like it the most, but it is still worthwhile to see (maybe not in the theater though if you’re an adult).

ALL IN ALL: Divergent, though a bit weak and rushed, is an entertaining film that combines several genres (action, sci-fi, romance) into a pretty satisfying mix.

Rated PG-13, 139 minutes