SPOILERS NOTE: Aiming not to spoil individual plot points, but may talk about the structure of the film and How It Made Me Feel enough to constitute spoilers for some. Don’t worry, I’ll definitely re-share this on social media after the film comes out.

Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 early last night, thanks to excellent recent podcast guest Chris Brosnahan having a spare ticket, and came away thinking: wow, that film sure loves itself.

Or to be more specific: it loves its predecessor, 2014’s very own Guardians of the Galaxy, and it wants to show that love by giving you more of that good time, maybe directly homaging a few sequences if you don’t mind. And it’s hardly bad for films to have some confidence – as Chris himself pointed out on Twitter later, Suicide Squad last year had no confidence in a single direction, and collapsed into an incoherent mess as a result.

Whereas GOTGV2 remembers its neon space action comedy style and hits it squarely throughout, almost to a fault – sarcastic banter, serious moments undercut by comedy a second later (seriously, James Gunn loves that particular comic beat), a message about banding together as outcasts and the full awareness that Groot will steal every scene he’s in.

Seriously, look at him, he's so adorable.

Seriously, look at him, he’s so adorable.

The confidence sometimes spills into indulgence, in both revisiting the first film and the overlong CGI climax at the end. That massive showdown feels retro, if it’s possible to feel nostalgia for two years ago – the last couple of Marvel films showed signs of realising less is more and scaling back the computer-generated smashy-smash.

The plot, though, is the main reason this is probably destined to be seen as a lesser sequel – it’s not that there isn’t one, but it never feels that urgent, preferring to ramble around the universe, putting characters through fun scenes along the way.

Movies (especially Marvel/DC/other extended comic universe ones) are in an odd place right now with their serialisation – they want the same character attachments as TV and comic books, but it doesn’t come as naturally to their format. They arrive in one big hit every few years, and because of that wait, both studios and (let’s face it guys, we’re the problem too) audiences expect them to Drop The Bomb every time.

What I’m saying is: Guardians The Second feels like a fun mid-series episode of a TV show. Some antics, banter, a few subplots edge forward, everyone gets a chance to hang out and expand their characters a little. You see those guys again, feel warm inside, they seem cool, can’t wait to see them get mashed into an iron maiden in the season finale.

No, dear reader, not a typo, this image is meant to be here.

No, dear reader, not a typo, this image is meant to be here.

This will sound like damning with wispy anti-praise, but the film it reminded me of most was Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (Dead Man’s Chest, Me Hearties), which I quite enjoyed at the time. Later soured by its sequel, which resembled being left in a blank void to die with only the world’s most annoying man for company, but still. They just wanted to spend more time with those pirates in that small harbour, doing more jokes about rum. So it is too with Guardians – although it’s much better, I think.

And I like comics and TV shows, I’m alright with movies leaning that way, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t weaken them a little as films.

So yes, don’t get me wrong, I liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. In an increasingly grim world, it was a fun detour into a simpler time. As long as you like the characters and sense of humour, there’s plenty for you here. Hopefully in Vol 3, having demonstrated his command of this universe, James Gunn will add something new into the mix.

 

Free Fire 2Thirty-four episodes clean and counting! Nick and Alastair kick off with talk about brief recent encounters with kid assassin comic Deadly Class, by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, and apt podcast-based crime novel Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski.

Then it’s time to get down to business with Ben Wheatley’s warehouse gun battle movie Free Fire (6:51), followed by a check back with highly acclaimed X-Men-related TV series Legion (20:15). Did it keep that weird quality up for the whole season? If you want to hear our first encounter with Legion, travel back in our mindscape to MFV 28.

old guard 1Thirdly, it’s the first two issues of The Old Guard (36:31), a new comic about immortal soldiers by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez.

Lastly, what did Nick think of classic movie Run Lola Run (46:50)? And if he’d seen it at a slightly different time, would his whole opinion change?

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power rangersThirty-three Power Rangers is less than it takes to change a light bulb! Time to review the new Power Rangers movie, and to do this epic justice, Nick and Alastair bring in mighty morphin’ mega-fan PDT, co-host of RangerPod and The Mostly Made-Up Doctor Who Episode Guide! Before getting stuck into the dinosaur meat, they quickly discuss such random intake as Designated Survivor, Ghost in the Shell (not the new one) and the recent Flash/Supergirl musical crossover episode!

PowerRangers-old-schoolThen, at around 8:28, it’s time to morph all the way and get stuck into Power Rangers in some detail. Could the film meet everyone’s expectations? What did PDT think of epilogue comic Power Rangers: Aftershock? Is Alpha 5 still annoying? Which Ranger is the Wolverine of the franchise? All this and much, much more.

If you enjoyed PDT’s appearance here, check out RangerPod and The Mostly Made-Up Doctor Who Episode Guide on their respective websites or iTunes/other podcast apps, and/or follow him on Twitter as @PDTSaysThings!

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iron-fistThirty-two tiny punches and a big stab! In a shortened episode (because they’ve moved the Power Rangers review to a separate special, admin fans), Nick and Alastair quickly cover some classic material, with H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited.

Then it’s into less-than-classic territory with Marvel’s latest Netflix/Defenders series Iron Fist (7:01), before recovering with excellent comedy-horror liberal nightmare movie Get Out (23:52).

get outLastly, what did Alastair think of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (35:13)? Is it good for anyone, or did Nick’s love of comedy music blind him to the truth?

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elleThe big three-one! Moving into the thirties with good range, as Nick and Alastair start with brief chat about the poetry of Kate Tempest and Archie-murder series Riverdale. Then it’s on to new movie Elle (9:19) which, for anyone sensitive about such content, means talking a fair bit about the film’s handling of rape.

sleaford_mods_english_tapas_grandeIf you’d rather not listen, you can skip to 25:44 and the album English Tapas by Sleaford Mods, a band Nick hadn’t previously heard. Lastly, Alastair’s recommendation: Heat (38:46), a 1995 crime epic with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

If you’re wondering why there’s only three items this episode – the fourth for the fortnight was in MFV #30, an off-schedule special where we talked Logan with guest Chris Brosnahan. It was fun, click that link and check it out.

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loganEpisode thirty! We’re old, but not as old as Wolverine! Logan goes full grizzled in his new movie, and Nick and Alastair celebrate by releasing an off-schedule special, and bringing on writer, occasional stand-up comedian and X-Men fan Chris Brosnahan to help deal with the dystopian misery of it all. But first, an epic recommendations three-way, taking in The Love Witch, American Horror Story, Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy, Jerusalem by Alan Moore and Twin Peaks. Runs longer than usual, mostly because Chris makes the mistake of getting Nick started about Spider-Man clones.

Speaking of which – the Life of Reilly blog series Chris mentions can be found at this link and is a fascinating look behind the scenes of that storyline. Nick’s post on our own website about the Clone Saga, which Alastair had to mention for him, is at this link right here.

old man loganBut we eventually start on our main feature: spoiler-free Logan chat at 18:40, followed by the full-fat ruinous stuff from 27:52 onwards. Is it good? In a superhero way or a proper film way? Do we know what a fight is really like? Which actor surprised us with his strong performance? Which Marvel hero did incest in the original Old Man Logan comics? All this and more! If you enjoy Chris’s appearance here, you can follow him on Twitter as @ChrisBrosnahan.

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prevenge_01Twenty nine episodes in a year! Yes, it’s Moderate Fantasy Violence’s first birthday, so Nick and Alastair allow themselves some indulgent ‘Look How Far We’ve Come!’ talk before brief recommendations of NASA movie Hidden Figures and Native American noir comic Scalped.

Then we do full-length talk-downs of curse-words-01Alice Lowe’s pregnancy revenge thriller Prevenge (8:40), hot new urban fantasy/wizard fantasy crossover comic Curse Words (20:15) by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne, the new series of BBC horror anthology Inside No. 9 (32:13) and Nick’s recommendation from last episode: the excellent (and prematurely concluded) crime comic Fell (48:54) by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith.

inside number 9Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

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lego-batman-movie-poster-charactersTwenty-eight episodes, just like there are days in February! This time, Nick and Alastair both read actual books – specifically Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway and Maus by Art Spiegelman – and one probably had a cheerier time than the other.

But at least both enjoyed The Lego Batman Movie (5:25), an exercise in joyous Batglee like no other. Good to be back on the comic adaptations for 2017.

t2-trainspotting-teaserIn other franchise-sequel news, it’s time for T2 Trainspotting (20:41) (and for Nick to watch the original movie). Can these Scottish heroin addicts anchor a franchise with as much panache as Batman? Sticking with superheroes and tripping out, next it’s time to try X-Men-adjacent TV show Legion (36:09).

Riget(1)_foto_Henrik DithmerFinally, Alastair recommended Nick the Danish surreal-horror show The Kingdom (48:08). Did he like it? Will he include clips of its amazing theme tune in the show? (Yes.)

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Twenty seven episodes, right here in twenty-seventeen! It starts in respectable territory, as Nick read lost-classic adult-comic Miracleman by Alan Moore (credited as “The Original Writer”, because that’s how the guy rolls), Gary Leach, Alan Davis and co, while Alastair followed the Oscar nominations with interest. Such interest, in fact, that we stop for a longer chat about them (5:16).

a-series-of-unfortunate-events-neil-patrick-harris-social (1)It’s a smooth transition from there to a full review of hot Oscar favourite La La Land (12:06), and then on to the new Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (26:12), a show with a thoroughly excellent theme tune. (Don’t worry, we’ve included a clip.)

richard iii2Thirdly, and a small jump away from the rest, we’ve heard 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory (38:54), the new album from the Dropkick Murphys. Is it too screamy for Nick, or can he withstand it?

Finally, we cover Richard III (45:35) – specifically the 1995 Richard Loncraine movie starring Ian McKellen. It’s certainly got points to make about fascism rising in the Western world, which may or may not be interesting given recent news events.

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