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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a 2017 superhero flick based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It brings back writer/director James Gunn and most of the actors from the first film including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker and brings in newcomers like Kurt Russel, Sylvester Stallone, Pom Klementieff, and features one hell of cameo from (*spoiler alert*) David Hasselhoff. 

The film tries hard to recreate the magic of the first one and it succeeds for the most part. The humor is there, the character interaction is there, the action is there, but it’s missing the joy of discovery. At this point we know what to expect from Star-Lord and his crew. That’s not a bad thing. You’ll like it if you liked the first one. My girlfriend hadn’t seen the first one so we watched it on demand and then watched Vol. 2 later that night. That’s practically five hours of Guardians of the Galaxy in one sitting and we didn’t get sick of it. That’s impressive because I have a short attention span. I’ll end this review on that note because I hear the ice cream man outside. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is good. Go see it in IMAX 3D if you can, it’s worth the money and not many movies are these days.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Masters of the Universe (film)

Sometimes Hollywood movies are just glorified toy commercials. Look at Transformers, Battleship, G.I. Joe… but it’s not a growing trend, it’s been like that for decades. One of the earlier toy commercial movies was Masters of the Universe, a cheesy 1987 sci-fi flick starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor.

The movie starts with Skeletor taking over the planet Eternia. He-Man and his pals manage to thwart his plans involving the Cosmic Key by sending it to Earth. Julie (a young Courtney Cox) and her boyfriend find the Cosmic Key and activate it without knowing what it is. Skeletor’s troops pick up on its location and it’s up to He-Man and his friends to keep it from falling in the wrong hands.

This is one of Dolph Lundgren’s best roles but he’s a little lost without Sylvester Stallone holding his hand. He looks like He-Man, he runs around being big and hitting things. He doesn’t speak much and when he does he sounds like Stallone. It’s kind of off-putting. Luckily Frank Langella handles most of the dialog. It’s always nice when a formidable villain is extremely articulate about exposition and repeatedly explains what is going on and what is at stake.

The movie doesn’t make much sense. There’s a half-assed plot and underdeveloped characters. Nobody learns anything. Julie (Courtney Cox’s character) actually regresses. In the beginning she’s grieving her recently deceased parents and getting ready to say good-bye to her boyfriend and leave her hometown to start a new life. That’s what you do when you’re a senior in high school: you leave home and you face the real world. But at the end of the movie Julie’s parents are magically brought back to life and she decides to stay. She didn’t grow as a person or learn from her experiences. She decided to retreat back into childhood instead. That’s not a happy ending.

The only reason to watch this movie is for nostalgia. Don’t watch it if you’ve never seen it before. You wouldn’t be able to appreciate its glory. And if you’re gonna watch it again, I recommend doing so with a lot of booze.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Steroids in Sports

As long as there have been games and sports there has been cheating. Cheating and competition go hand in hand. Anyone who has ever played Monopoly wants to be the banker. Why? To steal money when no one is looking and buy yourself choice properties. So when a professional athlete takes steroids to perform better, it’s understandable. They just want to win. And if they want to sacrifice their balls to do so, I think that’s pretty fair.

An athlete getting caught juicing is like seeing a mouse. When you see one, you can be sure that there’s a lot more. Not every player is taking roids. It’s not as rampant as the Bonds-Canseco-McGwire era. But there are still a lot of juicers; they are just smarter about not getting caught. Except Melky Cabrera. But pitchers are using steroids too. It’s still a level playing field.

Sports are entertainment. There’s drama and elation and characters and storylines to follow. You love your team, but if they don’t go to the championship it won’t ruin your life. You know what’s entertaining? 500 foot home runs. Big tackles. The Expendables 2. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger take steroids and everyone pats them on the back.

My official opinion on steroids is: WHO THE FUCK CARES? People cheat. It sucks. Get over it. Anything is ok as long as you don’t get caught.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Rocky is Sylvester Stallone’s best movie. It’s a requirement for a boy to watch this in order to become a man. It is a cinematic bar mitzvah. If you’ve never seen this flick, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you don’t have TBS, TNT or basic cable.  I’m pretty sure there’s a cable network that shows the Rocky saga nonstop.

Rocky is the story of a boxing underdog. Rocky is just an average boxer. He’s not a has-been, he’s a never-was (and yes, I did steal that from the Mighty Ducks). He gets a shot to take on the reigning champ, and his only goal is to go the distance with him. He doesn’t want to win, he just wants to put up a fight. He doesn’t win in the end, one of only a handful of movies where the good guy loses in the end. A League of Their Own and Friday Night Lights also come to mind. It is more realistic to have a team lose rather than win everything. Most sports competitions only have one winner, and so statistically there are a lot more losers.

Rocky was made on a shoestring budget. The plot parallels Sylvester Stallone’s real life. It is a very personal project, and it shows. It’s a great “You-Can-Do-It-If-You-Put-Your-Mind-To-It” story. Sly wrote it as a vehicle for himself, and eventually got his way. With a budget of less than a million dollars, the film went on to gross over $225 million, earned ten Oscar nominations, and spawned five sequels. Not too shabby for a script written in three and a half days.

Rocky made a star out of Stallone, but it also had a great supporting cast. Talia Shire plays Adrian, the shy love interest that blossoms into a beautiful woman. Burt Young plays Paulie, Adrian’s brother and Rocky’s best friend. Rocky represents hope and Paulie represents reality. Burgess Meredith plays Mickey, the disgruntled trainer who thinks Rocky wasted his talent, but who is still willing to help get him into shape. Carl Weathers plays Apollo Creed, the cocky reigning heavyweight who challenges an unknown Rocky to a title fight. It’s very difficult to play an antagonist with out making them a villain, so props to Weathers for playing the character the right way.

The soundtrack is amazing. It elevates the whole movie. Gonna Fly Now is the best workout song of all time. There was pioneering use of the steadicam. The training montage, fight sequences, and Rocky running up the stairs are all iconic moments that are elevated because of the filming technique. The fight choreography seems slightly dated now, but at the time it was the closest to an actual fight than anything previously seen on screen.

This is one of the best sports films of all time. It was the start of a sometimes great, occasionally mediocre film franchise. There are plenty of real life parallels that make the movie even more relatable and enjoyable. Sylvester Stallone’s best movie, and any actor should be proud to have a film of this caliber on their resume.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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