Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnam. Show all posts

Friday, June 2, 2017

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" as well as the animated feature films "Moana" and "Sing," newly released on DVD.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "In The Year of the Pig."  The Book of the Week is a cookbook:  "Over Easy" by Joy Wilson.]

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Peter Quill AKA Star Lord is back and he is still trying to figure out his parentage.

I am not a big Marvel comics fan - well, actually I'm not a Marvel comics fan at all - so it was just by accident that I went to the first installment of this franchise, "Guardians of the Galaxy," which I guess looking back would now be Vol. 1.  I needed to review a new film and there just wasn't anything else to see.  And I have to say I was surprised.  I just loved it!  I loved it so much that I saw it again on DVD so Hubby could see it too.  Chris Pratt had lost all of that weight after his stint on "Parks and Recreation" and was breaking out in a big way, the "mixed tape" 80's soundtrack was awesome, and the story was fresh and original.  Also who knew a wise-cracking raccoon (Bradley Cooper), a talking tree who can only say "I am Groot (Vin Diesel)" and Drax (Dave Bautista), a tattooed knucklehead, could be so much fun? 

I really loved the FIRST "Guardians of the Galaxy" and thought it was just charming and even ended my review of it with "I can't wait for the next one!" 

But that was the FIRST "Guardians of the Galaxy." I am sad to report that the "next one" is here, and I did not feel the same way about this sequel.  You know how I feel about sequels anyway.  I usually hate them and avoid them, but because I loved the first "Guardians" so much I didn't even think about it being a sequel so I can guarantee you that the fact that it was a sequel did not color my judgment. I was expecting the same charm as the first and that Pratt would be his wise-cracking self. 

Well, folks, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" had no charm.  Whatever it was that made the first one so enjoyable was just not present here.  And worse, Chris Pratt has lost his charm too.  He seemed to be sleepwalking through his part with most of the other characters having the funny wise-cracking lines.

Well, anyway, enough about me. Let's get to the story.

As you may remember from the first one - and if you haven't seen the first "Guardians of the Galaxy," please see it, even if you don't plan to see this one.  But if you ARE going to see this one, it's a must to see the first one unless you want to be hopelessly lost or already know the story.  I saw the first one and still struggled to remember who was who and why was why in the sequel. Characters from the first one come and go and some new characters, like Baby Groot, are not really explained.

This time around, Peter and his side-kicks Rocket (the aforementioned raccoon); Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the sort-of love interest; Drax (the tattooed knucklehead); and Baby Groot (still Vin Diesel, but like I said, not sure where he came from) have been hired by the Sovereign race, a bunch of people who are all painted gold and look alike, to protect valuable batteries from a monster that is going to attack their planet.  In return, the Guardians get Gamora's estranged sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), who had been arrested for stealing some batteries. Everyone in the universe seems to want those batteries. As for Gamora and Nebula...shall we say that Gamora and Nebula have a fractious relationship?  However, if you have not seen the first film, that whole thing probably won't make much sense to you either because it's not really explained here.

After killing the monster, the Guardians leave the Sovereigns, but not before Rocket helps himself to some batteries.  Not a good idea.  So now the Sovereigns are after the Guardians and they are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet where Peter meets a mysterious figure (Kurt Russell - it's nice to see him again) who purports to be the father he has never met. 

Again, it was established in the first film that Peter's mother had a relationship with some kind of "Star Man," and Peter has always wondered who his father was. Peter's father introduces himself as Ego (perfect name considering how things turn out) and invites him to his home planet. He also introduces Peter to
Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Ego's empath, who is very entertaining. She has these cute little antennae and the uncanny ability to touch you and tell what you are feeling and then make you feel better. Very sweet. She was actually my favorite character in this sequel, which tells you how desperate I was to like this film.
So anyway off they go accompanied by Gamora and Drax while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.

Meanwhile, Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his crew (and Yondu is a whole other storyline that isn't really explained here until the end so, like I said, see the first one first) are after the Guardians too, but when Yondu won't turn over Peter to the Sovereigns there is a mutiny and Yondu's right hand man, Taserface (Chris Sullivan), leads a mutiny.  The film has fun with Taserface and his name, and he basically becomes one of the main villains. 

Nebula escapes and continues her obsession with killing her sister, and Peter bonds with his Dad. Turns out, Ego is a Celestial, an immortal, and he has been searching for Peter to find out if he too is a Celestial.  You see, Ego is seeking meaning in life, and needs another celestial to help him find the meaning he seeks.  Unfortunately that meaning he seeks is not to help the universe but to take over the universe.

When Peter discovers that his father might not be the nice sweet Daddy he had been looking for, things change and Peter finds out just who his real "Daddy" is.

Lots of fighting and space ships flying around and crashing, and you know that slo-mo walk that happens in practically every film these days whether it's a bachelorette party or a movie like this?  You know the one, where the main characters walk shoulder-to-shoulder to some powerful hair metal song as they get themselves ready to take on the world? That's called a Power Walk - and there was not just one of those in this film, but TWO!

Written and directed by James Gunn, there are some laughs to be had and lots of space ship fights and that sort of thing. I am sure fans of the Guardians will still enjoy this, but I was disappointed.  And worse...the soundtrack, or should I say, the infamous mixed tape, wasn't nearly as good as the first one.

Rosy the Reviewer I always say about sequels...but no doubt there will be a Vol. 3.


***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Moana (2016)

When Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) hears the story of Maui (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), who stole the heart of the Island Queen, Nafiti, she sets out to find Maui, restore the heart and make things right.

As a child in Polynesia, Moana many times heard the story of the shape-shifter Maui, a demon of earth and fire, who stole the heart of the Island Queen. Her heart is literally the heart of Polynesian life and without the heart, island life is threatened.

We see early in the film that Moana has some magical abilities when it comes to taming the ocean, and the ocean wants her to travel out beyond the reef to find the heart. But Moana's father (Temuera Morrison) is the island's chief and Moana is being groomed to take leadership of the island, and the rule has always been, no one goes beyond the reef. Her mother tells her, "Some things we wish we could do are not meant to be."

Guess what? 

Disney films all have a formula.  This could be a Polynesian version of "Frozen" or even "Finding Dory," but that's OK because if it's not broke, why fix it? Disney has been churning out these formulaic animated feature films for years, and I have only good things to say about films that empower young girls to think they can do anything they want to do.

Naturally, with much powerful singing, Moana goes out past the reef with her cute little pig (there are always cute little sidekicks) and gets caught in the coral.  She makes it back to shore and so much for venturing out past the reef.

So now Moana is discouraged until her grandmother (Rachel House) gives her inspiration to not give up.  Grandma tells her the real story of Nafiti and shows her a cave with a sailing ship and tells her who Moana is really meant to be.

Moana is meant to find Maui and restore the heart to Nafiti to stave off ecological disaster. So off she goes again, this time also accompanied by a ditzy and very funny rooster. She finds Maui and discovers that Maui isn't a very nice guy. He and Moana are not on the same page about saving the islands. Instead, he imprisons her.  He not only isn't a very nice guy, he is actually kind of a meathead.  Maui is not yet who he is meant to be either.  But he also doesn't realize who he is dealing with here.  He is dealing with a Disney Princess and Disney Princesses have PLUCK and GUMPTION!  And remember, the theme here is "Never give up!"

I applaud Disney for this Polynesian folk tale which is a nice and different addition to their film library and for keeping the musical comedy alive.  It's strange, but for some reason people are fine with animated figures and animals singing but when you talk about a musical with live actors doing the same thing, people usually say, "I don't like musicals."  But they love "Frozen" and "Snow White" and other Disney features, all musicals. People are strange.

The excellent quality of the animation is also what we expect from Disney films. Young Cravalho has a lovely voice and creates a perky and engaging Moana. Likewise, "The Rock," who seems to be everywhere these days does a good job as the voice of Maui.

Oh, and did I mention that Disney films are also masterful at pulling the heartstrings?  This one is no exception.

Directed by Ron Clements, Don Hall, Chris Williams and John Musker with a screenplay by Jared Bush and score and songs by Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda respectively, the film not only encourages young girls to never give up but it also shows us what can happen if we don't take care of our earth.

Rosy the Reviewer says...not my favorite Disney film but Moana is a wonderful role model for young girls. 

Sing (2016)

Humanoid animals compete in an American Idol type competition (call it Animal Idol) to help save a theatre.

Koala Buster Moon (voice of Matthew McConaughey) fell in love with the theatre at a young age.  He becomes a theatre empresario and is a fast talking promoter, but he is hurting financially and when his theatre is facing the chopping block, he comes up with the idea to have a singing competition.  He manages to eek out $1000 for a prize but, his aging, out-of-it secretary accidentally types $100,000 on all of the flyers and before Buster can proof-read them, the flyers all literally fly out the window and land all over town.

Singers come from far and wide to audition with Buster who does not realize the prize is $100,000! 

At the auditions, we are introduced to a series of performers:

  • Johnny (voice of Taron Edgerton) a teenage gorilla who has fallen in with a bad crowd as in his own family;

  • Rosita, (voice of Reese Witherspoon), a singing pig who is the beleaguered mother of 25 piglets;
  • Mike (voice of Seth McFarlane), a rat, who fittingly sings like Sinatra

  • Gunter (voice of Nick Kroll), a flamboyant Liberace style pig;

  • Meena (voice of Tori Kelly), a shy young elephant with a big voice;


All of our performers have their personal stories.  The gorilla teen has to fight his criminal Dad, the singing pig can't find a babysitter for her 25 piglets, the elephant girl doesn't make the cut at the audition because she is so shy, though Buster does hire her as a stagehand (and don't worry, she will get her shot).

So now Buster has the talent lined up for his show but when he finds out that the prize is supposed to be $100,000, how will he finance it?
Directed by Garth Jennings (he also wrote the screenplay) and Christopher Lourdelet with pop songs most of which you will recognize, this isn't Disney, but Illumination Entertainment, which produced "Despicable Me" and the recent "The Secret Life of Pets," has rounded up a star-studded cast to play anthropomorphic animals in a sweet film reminiscent of "Zootopia."  All of the stars give it their all and like "Moana (see review above)," the film explores the theme of "Never give up," as well as friendship, family and following your dreams.  The animation is first rate.  At times I thought I was actually watching humans!

Rosy the Reviewer says...Great songs, great performances, great fun that all ages will enjoy!

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

Only 200 to go!

This is a milestone and I am celebrating!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

In the Year of the Pig (1968)

Produced at the height of the Vietnam War, this anti-war film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1970.

Director Emile de Antonio uses American Civil War and empire building images to begin this film that is clearly against America's participation in the Vietnam War.  Filmed when the war was in full swing (1968), he used images of protest, news footage and interviews with military figures and journalists to trace the history of Southeast Asia from China's occupation followed by the various other European powers meddling in Vietnam and ending with France.  The film makes the argument that none of those wars and acts of imperialism did anything to help Vietnam and that the Vietnamese should determine their own fate.

Duh.  Too bad we couldn't figure that out long before we got involved.

There are also images of American politicians sitting in Washington in their nice suits talking about the war, intercut with images of the death and destruction occurring thousands of miles away. A voice-over of one of the politicians says "These prisoners are not being mistreated" while at the same time we see an image of a prisoner being kicked by an American soldier.

I got married to my high school sweetheart in 1967 when I was 19. Six months later he was drafted and sent to Vietnam.  I was in college at the time and had the unique experience of a husband fighting in Vietnam while I was at home in college protesting against the war. I also remember watching the news every night worrying that one night I might see my husband getting shot.  Yes, people, there was reporting about the war every single night on the news, showing images of the fighting and the bodies and every night there would be a count of how many Viet Cong and American soldiers had died.  Do we see any images of the wars we have been involved in since?

The film is insightful but very dry.  Lots of talking heads.  And I have to wonder if anyone cares about the Vietnam War anymore.  Maybe not, but seeing films like this is a reminder of a war that we had no business being involved in, letting our fear of communism and the domino effect cloud our judgement.

This film was made in 1968 and sadly the war went on another seven years.  All of that death and destruction and for what?

Why it's a Must See: " impressive attack on American foreign policy and the war in Vietnam.  One result is an extraordinarily provocative documentary.  Another is a textbook example of flaws within the American sensibility that are most easily identified as simple of the most successful antiwar, if at times, anti-American diatribes on the evils of political expediency."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...a reminder of the debacle that was the Vietnam War that we can learn from today.

***Book of the Week***

Over Easy: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days by Joy the Baker (Joy Wilson) (2017)

Think you know how to boil an egg or make perfect scrambled eggs?  Think again!
Joy Wilson, AKA as Joy the Baker, shares recipes for breakfasts and brunches and the rest of a leisurely weekend.
Her cookbook "is meant to celebrate and facilitate our own lazy meal days.  The recipes here will satisfy any craving, whether you like things simple or decadent, savory or sweet."
She is mostly right.  Her cocktails - "Summer Pimm's Cup" and "Grapefruit Rosemary Mimosa" - would certainly satisfy my brunch cravings for a cocktail, and I am definitely going to try her "Extra-Egg-and-Bacon Fried Rice" and her "Favorite Breakfast Sandwich," where she uses a "folded" scrambled egg (see recipes below).
However, she complicated my life a bit by sharing her secrets for "Great Fried Eggs" and "Very Easy Poached Eggs. 
For all of the secrets, you will have to check out her book, but the one secret I have a hard time with is having to crack the eggs into a fine-mesh strainer when making fried or poached eggs.  This supposedly strains the watery portion of the egg whites, leaving the "best" parts for you to fry or poach thus creating a more compact egg.  I can just see myself cracking the egg into a strainer and breaking the yolk.  Not sure if I am going to do that, but check back to one of my upcoming Tuesday "Rosy's Test Kitchens" where I will test that tip. 
In addition to fried and poached eggs, she also reveals the "Secret to Perfectly Boiled Eggs (for hard-boiled, keep them in the fridge until the very last minute and then when the water is at a full boil, put the eggs in the water, turn the heat down to medium and boil for 11 minutes).  She says it's when you overcook your hard-boiled eggs that you get that ugly green or grey ring that sometimes appears around the yolk. I have my own method for hard boiled eggs which is easy and seems to work perfectly except now that I think of it, my eggs do seem to get that nasty little discoloration. And the "Secret to Fluffy Scrambled Eggs?"  She uses clarified butter and soy sauce in her scrambled eggs! Soy sauce?  I am also going to have to test that!
In addition to her egg tips, the cookbook has recipes for pancakes, waffles, quiches, breakfast BLT's , tacos, quesadillas and burgers and for the sweet tooth - scones, pecan rolls and doughnuts.
The cookbook is a lovely presentation with almost all of the recipes having accompanying color photographs.
And as promised, here are a couple stand-outs:
"Extra-Egg-And-Bacon Fried Rice"
  • Bake 8 slices of bacon in the oven on a rack in the upper third of the oven at 375 for 17-20 minutes.  Let cool and chop. (and baked bacon really works)!
  • Heat 3 T sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/3 c. sliced scallions with both white and green parts and 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed.  Cook until warmed, about 3 minutes.  Add 6 c. cooked white rice and toss to combine. Cook rice and veggies about 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix 3 T soy sauce, 2 T rice vinegar and 1 to 2 T Sriracha or your fave hot sauce.  Pour the mixture over the rice and add the chopped bacon.  Scrape the rice to one side of the pan and add 2 large beaten eggs and stir immediately to scramble the eggs as they cook.  As the eggs firm, stir the rice mixture back into the eggs.  Season as you wish.
  • To serve, divide the rice among four shallow bowls and top each with a fried egg (cooked as she had instructed - remember that fine mesh strainer)?
As for that Breakfast Sandwich with the folded scrambled eggs I mentioned?
  • You put the whisked eggs (with that soy sauce) into a nonstick skillet and let the eggs set like a crepe.  Sprinkle it with cheese and then use a very thin spatula to fold the sides of the egg over the melting cheese creating a small folded square.
  • Then put the egg, your favorite meat and seasoning on a prepared English muffin and breakfast is served!
Rosy the Reviewer says...a delightful cookbook with breakfast and brunch recipes that will be delicious any time of the day.
(And keep your eye out for an upcoming "Rosy's Test Kitchen" where I will put her egg tips to the test and share my own secrets)!
Thanks for reading!


 See you next Friday 

for my review of  
"Everything, Everything"


 The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 

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