Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Based on: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning‘s comic
Sequel to: Guardians of the Galaxy
Cast: Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperMichael RookerKaren GillanPom KlementieffSylvester StalloneKurt RussellElizabeth DebickiChris SullivanSean Gunn, Seth Green, Michael Rosenbaum, David HasselhoffVing RhamesMichelle Yeoh, Jeff GoldblumStan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 3.5.2017

Plot:
Peter (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) have made quite a reputation for themselves. People have even started to ask them for help. But it’s not easy to leave your old habits behind and when Rocket not only helps but also steals, one thing leads to another and the group find themselves crashing on a planet where they meet Ego (Kurt Russell) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). This is not a coincidence: Ego tells Peter that he is his father, throwing him for quite a loop. But trouble has only just begun.

I was not a fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie to begin with, and I thought that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was even weaker. At least Baby Groot was cute.

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The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The Fate of the Furious
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Gary Scott ThompsonChris Morgan
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious2 Fast 2 FuriousThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftFast & FuriousFast FiveFast & Furious 6, Furious 7
Cast: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason StathamMichelle RodriguezTyrese GibsonLudacrisCharlize TheronLuke Evans, Nathalie EmmanuelElsa PatakyKurt RussellKristofer HivjuScott Eastwood
Seen on: 19.4.2017

Plot:
Things should be calm around the Family. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, everybody else has been cleared of all criminal charges and normality is just around the corner. That’s when Dom is contacted by Cipher (Charlize Theron). And she knows everything about him and his past and she’s not afraid to use it to force Dom back into a life of crime. The rest of the Family can’t understand is betrayal and the rift that runs through the group forces them to forge new and unexpected alliances.

The Fate of the Furious is not the strongest film of the series, but it’s by far not the weakest. I had fun watching it, despite a couple of lengths that managed to steal into the film here and there.

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The Thing (1982)

The Thing
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Based on: John W. Campbell, Jr.‘s novella Who Goes There?
Cast: Kurt RussellWilford BrimleyT.K. CarterDavid ClennonKeith DavidRichard DysartCharles HallahanPeter Maloney, Richard MasurDonald MoffatJoel PolisThomas G. Waites
Seen on: 30.5.2016
[This concludes the John Carpenter special (for me).]

Plot:
A USAmerican research station in Antarctica find themselves the harbor of a sled dog that ran from another facility, chased down by helicopter. But before the hunters can kill the dog, they crash. Irritated by events, the men decide to investigate the Norwegian camp nearby. What they find there, actually raises more questions – and that’s before the saved dog starts mutating into something else entirely.

The Thing – arguably one of Carpenter’s most revered films – cements what I had been suspecting: Carpenter is wasted on me. I thought The Thing was well done and I loved the special effects, but other than that, it just really didn’t speak to me.

thething

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Escape from L.A. (1996)

Escape from L.A.
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Kurt Russell
Sequel to: Escape from New York
Cast: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Valeria Golino, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Bruce Campbell, Georges Corraface, Michelle Forbes, A.J. Langer, Ina Romeo, Peter Jason, Leland Orser
Seen on: 26.5.2016

Plot:
2013. The future. After an earthquake, Los Angeles was turned into an island, separated from the rest of the USA, and used as a deportation station, not only for illegal immigrants, but also for people who lost their citizenship because they didn’t conform to the ultra-conservative morality enforced by the government. But the President’s own daughter Utopia (A.J. Langer) rebels against him and manages to get stranded in L.A. with a deadly device. Fortunately it’s just then that Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is caught once more and threatened with deportation himself – unless he retrieves both Utopia and the weapon.

Well. Since I wasn’t particularly taken with the first Escape film, it is not surprising that I didn’t love the second one either – a film that is inferior in almost every way to its predecessor.

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Elvis (1979)

Elvis
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Anthony Lawrence
Cast: Kurt RussellRonnie McDowell, Shelley Winters, Bing Russell, Robert Gray, Season Hubley, Pat Hingle, Melody Anderson, Ed Begley Jr., James Canning, Charles Cyphers
Seen on: 22.5.2016
[During the Carpenter retrospective, they did show Elvis as well, but unfortunately, they were only able to get a print of the German version that was cut from a length of 160 minutes down to a sleek 100 minutes. And since Maynard does own the DVD with the entire film in English, we decided to do a private screening instead – so that’s the version I saw.]

Plot:
Elvis (Kurt Russell, with Ronnie McDowell singing) dreams of becoming a musician. Born in poor circumstances and without connections, he doesn’t stand that much of a chance. But when he goes to record a song for his mother (Shelley Winters), the studio is impressed by his voice, hearing the gospel background he comes from (and that comes without him being black). From there, his rise is quick and very high, but it does come with its dark sides as well.

The film was made only very shortly after Elvis’ death and it shows in its unfiltered adoration of Elvis that doesn’t really dare to go near the darker chapters of his biography – like the drug use. That means that the film becomes overly sweet and remains oddly flat in places. Nevertheless it wins with the amazing performance by Kurt Russell and Ronnie McDowell’s great singing.

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Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W.D. Richter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor WongSuzee Pai
Seen on: 21.5.2016

Plot:
Jack (Kurt Russell) and Wang (Dennis Dun) might be different, but they’re friends. And when Wang’s fiancée Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) is supposed to finally arrive in the USA, they go to the airport together to collect her. But while they wait for her, they witness an attempted abduction of another Chinese woman who is there to be collected by Gracie (Kim Cattrall). Jack intervenes and saves the woman, only to have Miao Yin be abducted instead, landing all of them in the middle of an ancient Chinese war.

Big Trouble in Little China is not always unproblematic, but it is a whole lot of fun. It’s silly and stupid and there are even attempts at trope subversion (mildly successful). I enjoyed myself.

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Escape from New York (1981)

Escape from New York
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Nick Castle
Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers
Seen on: 21.5.2016

Plot:
1997. The future. Things have pretty much turned very bad. To get some measure of control, the entirety of Manhattan was walled off and turned into a prison, leaving the people inside to their own devices. It’s there that the USAmerican President (Donald Pleasence) crashes with his plane. There is no official way to get to him, so the prison warden Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) improvises: it just so happens that Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) was supposed to be locked away that day. With his biography, he seems like the most likely candidate to find and bring back the President. And Hauk will find a way to convince Plissken.

Escape from New York is another one of those classics that seem to be ubiquitous in pop culture, but that I had never seen. From what I gathered, I expected to get something along the lines of Mad Max, but unfortunately, Escape from New York just isn’t that, although I wished it was.

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce DernJames Parks, Zoë Bell, Channing Tatum
Seen on: 2.2.2016
[I saw the roadshow version.]

Plot:
Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) finds himself with a dead horse, a few frozen corpses he means to deliver to collect the bounty and in the cold in the middle of nowhere. It’s just his luck that John Ruth (Kurt Russell) comes along with his carriage, also transporting a body for the bounty, but a live one – Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Warren manages to hitch a ride with them to the next inn, Minnie’s Haberdashery where they are promptly snowed in. Trapped with a group of strangers in a snow storm, tensions start to rise.

The Hateful Eight was one of Tarantino’s weaker films. Definitely his weakest in a while. But a weak Tarantino is still a strong, well-made film. But it didn’t make me enthusiastic and I did have my issues with it.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Bone Tomahawk
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, David Arquette, Fred Melamed, Sid Haig
Part of: /slash Christmas special
Seen on: 17.12.2015

Plot:
When a stranger, Purvis (David Arquette), stumbles into town, Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) is suspicious of him, especially after a report from his backup deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins) informs him that he saw the stranger behave weirdly just outside the city limits. When Purvis’ answers don’t satisfy Hunt, he shoots him in the leg and has Samantha (Lili Simmons), the closest thing the town has to a doctor, take care of him. The next morning, Purvis, Samantha and Depty Nick (Evan Jonigkeit) have been taken and there was a murder in town. Hunt, Chicory, educated gunslinger Brooder (Matthew Fox) and Samantha’s husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson) take up the trail to get them back.

Bone Tomahawk was openly, outrageously, unflinchingly, unwaveringly and unquestionably racist. So much so, in fact, that I’m honestly surprised that this film got made in this day and age.

bone-tomahawk

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Furious 7 (2015)

Furious 7
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul WalkerDwayne JohnsonJason Statham, Jordana BrewsterMichelle Rodriguez, Tyrese GibsonLudacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Djimon Hounsou, Ronda Rousey, Tony Jaa, (Luke Evans, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang)
Seen on: 11.4.2015

Plot:
After Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of their team/family brought the criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) down, and brought him down so hard that he’s still in a coma, Shaw’s brother Deckard (Jason Statham) has sworn revenge. He starts in Tokyo, but he’s soon right in Dom’s and Brian’s lives – including their families. So Dom and Brian – who thought that they could finally settle down with Letty (Gina Rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) respectively – find themselves less retired than expected. But Shaw is not the only trouble, there’s also Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) who orders them to help with a new surveillance software that could do much harm in the wrong hands – which is just where it risks ending up.

I watched all seven Fast & Furious movies in less than 24 hours (which was kinda awesome, but also kinda insane and not to be done sober*), so Furious 7 really had to be fantastic to still make me pay attention. But no worries, it did and with apparent ease.

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