Movie Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and After the Storm

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Cary, NC – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a gut-bustingly funny sequel that once again provides unique characters and gorgeous visuals. Writer and director James Gunn isn’t just content with that though, as he also adds an enormous amount of heart to the film, making for a surprisingly emotional film as well.

Cast Is Once Again Great

The cast once again proves to be having a blast hanging out with each other. Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, Jurassic World), is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars around and is just as quick and funny here as he was in the first film. I tend to forget how good of an actor he can be though, and thankfully he had a chance to remind me here as the film deals with Pratt finding and getting to know his father.

Pratt has several moments where he learns about his real family while also appreciating his adopted one and he sells it completely. I can’t wait to see him interact with other characters like Iron Man and Captain America when the time comes.

The rest of the cast is also great. Dave Bautista (Spectre, WrestleMania 21 and 30) continues to steal the show as Drax. In addition to providing the film with some of its biggest laughs, Bautista also gets to show off his acting muscles and give Drax even more humanity and depth than before.

Actually, pretty much everyone gets to dig a little deeper into their characters. Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek reboot) gets to work on her relationship with her sister, while Rocket, once again voiced by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless), adjusts to life with friends in tow.

Oh, and Baby Groot is just as wonderful and hilarious as you’d hope.

It’s really great to see these characters grow with each other, which is something these Marvel films have been particularly good at from film to film.

Kurt Russell Makes A Great Addition

They’ve also been great at casting, and the big addition here is Kurt Russell (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China) himself as Pratt’s Dad, Ego. Russell is one of my idols, and to see him doing great science fiction is a real treat. It helps that he doesn’t phone it in either, committing fully to the weirdness and fun of the movie.

Sequel Well Worth Seeing

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great sequel that has almost non-stop laughs but a strong emotional core as well. Well worth the trip.

After the Storm

Playing this weekend at the Cary Theater, After the Storm is an emotionally cathartic drama of a family split apart by internal arguments, forced to reunite during a terrible typhoon. While the circumstances may be unique, anyone can find some part of this film to latch onto and bring intense meaning out of it.

Realistic Emotional Approach

Do not walk into After the Storm expecting a neat resolution to this family’s woes. Set in Japan, we never fully know what happened to this family, but with the parents’ divorce and the clear tension between the children and the parents and grandparents, it is clear they opened up some deep wounds in the past, particularly related to the father’s novel about them.

But as the storm goes on and each member of the family has to work together and interact in new ways, there are subtle changes in their interactions. By the end of the movie, you may not know what the family has gone through internally but you can tell things have changed, and changed for the better.

Strong Lead and Supportive Cast

The main attention for acting in After the Storm has to go to the lead of Hiroshi Abe, playing the father in the family. He has won international awards for his roles in films such as Shitamachi Rocket and Thermæ Romæ, and also received the Toshiro Mifune Award from the Kyoto International Art and Film Festival. Once you see him on screen, it is clear why. His body language and his face exude so much wear and tear that any audience, regardless of language, get him instantly. And he carries it over with his acting as he has to try and mend the damage down to his family while the storm rages outside.

The film has other capable supportive characters, particularly Abe’s character’s mother, played by Kirin Kiki who appears in many of director Hirokazu Koreeda’s works.

If you have never see a Koreeda film (Still Walking, Like Father, Like Son), you will be mesmerized by the slow, gradual pace he develops in the film, using subtlety to its fullest form. And After the Storm is even more deliberate in its pace and tone than most of his other films.

Worth Seeing

Since you are lucky enough to be able to see After the Storm on the big screen here in Cary, take advantage of the opportunity. It is an emotionally rich movie that tackles big family questions and avoids the saccharine feel of so many big-budget dramas.

After the Storm is playing at the Cary Theater at 2 and 9:30 PM on Thursday, May 11 and 9 PM on Friday, May 12, 2017.

Other new movies playing this weekend at the Cary Theater include comedies The Last Word starring Shirley MacLaine at 7 PM on Thursday, May 11 and Growing Up Smith playing at 7 PM on Friday, May 12, 2017.

Jordan Hunt reviews movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook (Guardians of the Galaxy/After the Storm).

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