GROOT FOR THE UNDERDOGS ONCE AGAIN
Expect the good old Marvel gang to rule the box office as well, writes Chris Lackner.
Big release on May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Big picture: The Avengers are getting long in the tooth, Justice League is still getting its cinematic act together, and the X-Men’s mutants always seem preoccupied with fighting each other (and taking themselves too seriously). That leaves the Guardians of the Galaxy at the top of the current cinematic superhero teams. The ragtag band of intergalactic misfits are back for Vol. 2 — saving the universe (again) against the backdrop of a great soundtrack (again) and bickering for our entertainment (again). This time the Guardians wrestle with family drama (including Kurt Russell as StarLord’s father, Ego), old foes and new foes — including a race of pompous golden aliens who look like the unlikely offspring of the Tin Man and C-3PO. Chris Pratt leads the celestial charge as Peter (Star-Lord) Quill, the best damn space captain this side of Captain Kirk. Of course, Rocket raccoon, Drax, Gamora and Groot all return to equal parts help and hinder. Guardians is a distinct brand in the Marvel universe: it’s like Star Wars meets Firefly with elite sitcom timing — the explosions as carefully timed as the oneliners. This franchise knows how to lighten up, and that somehow makes its anti-superheroes more human (even though there’s only one half-Earthling among them).
Forecast: I don’t know about the galaxy, but at least spring’s Hollywood box office will be saved. In Guardians Vol. 3, the superhero space team will face off against a washed-up Avengers squad (by then Iron Man should be in a flying wheelchair). I for one would pay good money to watch Groot and The Hulk candidly discuss the meaning of superhero life. “Groot!” “Hulk smash!”
Big events: 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards Live (May 7, MTV); The Last Kingdom (May 5, Netflix).
Big picture: Is MTV about to save movie and TV awards shows? For starters, following the Grammys’ lead, the 25-year-old award show has ditched gendered categories. Best actor in a movie, for example, features contenders like Hugh Jackman (Logan) and Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast). Secondly, they’ve incorporated TV categories for the first time — a smart move, as the line between the small-andbig screen continues to vanish. They’ve also added new, progressive categories like best American story and best fight against the system. (But don’t worry, they still give out a statuette for best kiss). Meanwhile, season 2 of The Last Kingdom (think Saxon version of Game of Thrones) airs exclusively on Netflix. The British period drama is about sex, battles, scheming lords, barbarians, blood and butchery. At its centre, a young lord named Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) seeks revenge for his murdered family. “I can never forget and I shall never forgive,” Uhtred declares, before hacking a lot of people’s limbs off and angrily hurling himself across the room into enemies’ faces. With his brooding eyes, wavy locks, wild stubble and erratic behaviour — he’s the non-thinking man’s Jon Snow. Forecast: Workaholics star Adam Devine will make a bigger name for himself as MTV host. (But I would have preferred to see Jackman and Watson co-host in character; maybe Belle could have finally made Wolverine crack a smile for the first time in his long life?)
Big releases on May 5: Blondie (Pollinator); At the Drive-In (in. ter.a.li. a).
Big picture: We all know blonds have more fun; turns out Blondie’s do, too. Sure, the band broke up in 1982, but these new wave pioneers have been going strong since reuniting in 1997. You know what they say: time (and money) heals old wounds. Their 11th studio album finds them up pollinating familiar terrain: blending genres into sonic cocktails behind the distinctive vocals of punk icon Debbie Harry. They also get by with a little help from their friends: new songs are written by the likes of Sia, TV on the Radio’s David Sitek and Johnny Marr.
A more recent reunion can be found At the Drive-In, as the Texan band releases its first album in 17 years. (Does all that time off qualify them as a new genre: post, post-punk?) The vocals of frontman Cedric BixlerZavala (also of The Mars Volta) anchor all that distorted, electric mayhem.
Forecast: Blondie fans will be in “rapture.” (Carly Rae Jepsen will realize she basically just added the word “maybe” to the title of a classic Blondie hit.)