Book review: Blackout by Mira Grant

(cover image courtesy Orbit Books)

 

The final book in the imaginatively-named Newsflesh Trilogy, in which society survives the zombie apocalypse but in a form almost unreconisable to the one we know today, Blackout is all about reunions, farewells and yes, the revealing and bringing to justice of those behind the great conspiracy that has propelled much of the narrative in this wholly gripping series.

While the idea of the undead going to town on our mortal living selves may not be the most original of ideas, Mira Grant, the pen name for Seanan McGuire, takes it and runs with it – not in high heels or sandals mind you because that will just get you killed if a zombie horde is in pursuit – investing the near-future world of 2041 with the spectre of repressive security, the possibility of death cropping up while grocery shopping or checking into a hotel and a near-pervasive sense that while humanity has survived, it’s been at the expense of its soul.

Our entry into this zombie-infested social landscape is via news bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason, adopted brother and sister, who have a consummate passion for the truth and exposing it to the readers of their lucrative After the End Times site, but completely different ways of approaching and articulating their craft.

Shaun is, or was, an Irwin (named after the Aussie adventurer and wildlife activist Steve), a group of bloggers dedicated to going out in the field to the towns and countryside abandoned to the zombies, their great thrill coming from courting danger and living (or sometimes not) tell about it.

Newsies, which is what Georgia is, or was, or is again – much of this book concerns her reawakening as a clone in a mysterious facility with murky reason for being and a suspicious purpose – are far more factually-based, their main aim to find a story, validate it and report, as objectively as possible on it.

Different approaches yes, but the same aim – to make sure that people, in a society tightly constrained by fear of doing anything that’s not “safe” – this means outdoor activities are definitely out as is owning large animals (all mammals can be infected by what’s known as the Kellis-Amberlee virus) – are aware of what’s happening around them.

It’s an even more important, pressing calling given the fact that the overriding narrative is that the world isn’t safe, everyone is always in danger and the only ones who can help you are the US government and the Centres for Disease Control; while true in many regards, it allows for certain nefarious groups to exercise far more control than is good for society as a whole and its ability to come to terms with the new reality of human existence.

But as the first two books in the series, Feed and Deadline, beautifully explored, what seemed like a good idea at the time, to keep people under mental and emotional lock & key, the better to manipulate them with, has devolved into a repression so ruthless and cold that it threatens to pull down society in ways that beggar the imagination.

 

(artwork via Paper Droids courtesy Orbit Books)

 

Blackout‘s main goal is exposing the ghostly puppet masters behind the continuing carnage, people who are content to kill millions if it means the twisted status quo, one which keeps society in a constant state of fearful triage, is maintained.

While it doesn’t always acquit itself quite as well as you might like – the ending feels a little rushed and anticlimactic, shoehorned into roughly the last 120 pages of a 574 page book – what it does, it does extremely well.

The sense of tension is palpable, as is the emotional turmoil of Georgia, who is grappling with the fact that she is a clone with 97% of her old memories – just don’t ask her about her 5th birthday party OK? – and the existential angst of Shaun, who is going ever more crazy talking to his dead sister.

Granted she’s not dead anymore, well in some form at least, but it’s not until well into Blackout that the two siblings, who share a much closer bond that has hitherto been revealed, come together, and determine, with the help of fellow bloggers Maggie, Becks, Mahir and Alaric, that they’re going to take the conspiracy down once and for all.

It’s a rallying cry all right, but the momentum of the book is stop-start in that regard, with much of the lead-up action not really getting the characters where they need to go; however, this is more than balanced out by some beautiful, emotionally-resonant character work, some biting, hilarious oneliners and a strong sense of bondedness and teamwork that gives the book an us-against-the-world feel.

That it, in the end, more the point of this series, and this book in particular, than anything else – that whatever the circumstances, and the zombie apocalypse is as dire as they come, that what matters is community, love, and a willingness to tell the truth, whether personally, professionally or politically.

They may sound like impossibly high-faluting ideals which have no place in a world rent asunder by the Rising of 2014 and then sort of rebuilt in an altogether different image, but they are the moral and ethical lifeblood of Blackout and its predecessors, giving it a resonance, depth and intelligence that far exceeds many of its undead genre mates.

While ostensibly the story of Georgia and Shaun Mason, the entire series is really about the value we place on freedom, truth and friendship & love, and how far we’ll go to protect or restore it, even if it means giving up everything we have in the process.

As series enders go, Blackout does a great job, bar a few narrative momentum wobbles, continuing the great worldbuilding, character interactions and snappy dialogue that has made the Newsflesh Trilogy such an impressive standout.

The answer is always YES: Words of wisdom from Cookie Monster’s Joy of Cookies book

(cover art via EW (c) Sesame Workshop/Imprint)

 

Life can be a tad tricky to navigate at times.

Oh who are we kidding? It can be freaking impossible much of the time, and so, we look to those with wisdom, experience, special insights and well-earned truth to guide us.

As figures of authority go, you can’t do much better than Sesame Street‘s Cookie Monster, who knows a thing or two about making life a whole lot easier to get through, especially if, like him, you are more than partial to a cookie or two (or the whole packet; go on you know that’s what you end up eating).

In his advice-packed new book from Imprint, The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life, we are given sugar-filled (or nuts, you can have nuts too if you want) advice on all kinds of tricky life issues, all of it inspired by a recent commercial Cookie Monster did for Apple.

 

 

As you can see, it’s wisdom for the ages.

As long, of course, during those ages, you have access to eggs, butter, flour and all kinds of delicious add-ins such as chocolate chips or, yes, nuts.

With a cookie in your mouth, it’s way easier to duck and weave through the various slings and arrows of misfortune that befall us in life, and to celebrate all the good times too.

Does Cookie Monster have his blue furry finger on the pulse of life? Yes he does.

Is this book a must-buy purchase come April 2018. Like you even need to ask.

Now stop wondering what to do next, grab a cookie (or the whole packet) and hit the road, confident that all you need is Cookie Monster’s expert advice to get you through.

(source: EW)

 

(image via EW (c) Sesame Workshop/Imprint)

 

(image via EW (c) Sesame Workshop/Imprint)

 

(image via EW (c) Sesame Workshop/Imprint)

Movie review: Small Town Killers (Dræberne fra Nibe)

(image courtesy Dendy)

 

You know that point in any marriage or longterm relationship where the love has died, the sex has followed suit, and you decide that it’d be cheaper and easier just to hire a hitman to kill your partner than resolve the issues or divorce?

No? Well Ib (Nicolas bro) and Edward (Ulrich Thomsen) have, and in one drunken night after it becomes obvious that their disaffected wives, who are close, wine-loving friends, Gritt (Mia Lyhne) and Ingrid (Lene Maria Christensen), fully intend to take them to the cleaners, the emotionally-inept husbands decide the only way to resolve things properly is to kill their wives.

Ib though is unaware that Edward is drunk enough to go online and actually hire a Russian hitman, Igor (Marcin Dorociński), who turns up, fulfilling every Russian cliche in the well-worn book, drunk as a skunk with no intention of sobering up anytime soon, or frankly, at all.

It’s a pretty unorthodox response to the rise and fall of relationships, and as it dawns on Ib and Edward that they have unleashed a Pandora’s box of murder and mayhem that, once released cannot be contained, the panic sets in and they struggle, on a grand and epic scale, to fix what is, by pretty much any estimation, a wholly un-fixable situation.

Complicating things still further is that Ingrid and Gritt, arriving back at the house where Igor has been secreted for the night – despite his loose cannon status, Edward and Ib decide a drink at the local pub is how you handle the arrival of a buyers-remorse hitman; yet another in a long line of very poor decisions – find out just why Igor is there (he has no edit function) and immediately set about hiring their own lunatic assassin from Britain.

If matching their husbands’ stupidity in hiring a hitman wasn’t bad enough, the grandmotherly figure who arrives, with the cringe-inducing name of Mrs Nipplesworthy (Gwen Taylor) – the film has an obsession with sex and its lack thereof in longstanding relationships – is a twisted Mary Poppins on acid who could well be an escaped mental patient.

As wacky narrative momentum goes, Small Town Killers has it all, throwing pretty much every over the top, slapstick idea into the pot in such a throw it at the wall and see what sticks kind of way, that you begin to wonder if there is a trope or overplayed element they haven’t included.

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time … the husbands hire a Russian hitman, and almost instantly wish they hadn’t (image via Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival)

 

While it never quite reaches the delicious high farce of the best of French or British cinema, Small Town Killers somehow manages, and it is a miracle of plot juggling so audacious that you fully expect it to all fall into a crashing, smoking heap from which no one, least of all Ib and Edward, Gritt and Ingrid, emerge unscathed.

There are so many insanely silly twists and turns, bits and pieces that the film should, by all rights, have no chance of being even remotely entertaining.

And yet, by some miracle, and honestly much of it comes down to the way the four leads carry off initially unlikable characters to the point where you’re rooting for them and yes even find them endearing, Small Town Killers actually works.

It’s a mess sure, and seems intent on grabbing every last cliche and trope around – disaffected, stupid husbands? Tick. Angry, thoughtless wives? Tick? Russian hitman drunk on vodka? Yup. Crazy eccentric Englishwoman? Oh yea. Over-officious policeman (Heinz played by Søren Malling)? – but it somehow works.

It shouldn’t, and there are plenty who agree with that judging by other reviews out there, but it works, and works so well that you’re not only laughing, and granted cringing, but actually find yourselves becoming attached to not only the four leads but even Igor, the thoughtful Russian hitman who simply wants to put unhappy people out of their misery and, ahem, Mrs Nipplesworthy, all of whom end up far more fleshed out than the plot suggests they will be.

While the plot doesn’t get up the head of steam to be true classic farce, it uses its various elements well, burnishing the sheer idiocy of it all with some unexpectedly emotionally-resonant scenes that suggest there is more going on with Ib and Gritt, Edward and Ingrid that you might first otherwise surmise.

In fact, it’s this innate humanity, again not something that ever-escalating insanity of the plot and the madness of an escalating body count, even remotely suggests is possible, goes a long way to lending the film a realness that it should not, by any other measure, possess.

 

… and so their wives hire one of their own and equally as remorsefully as their husbands, wish they hadn’t (image via AvaxHome)

 

On top of it all, Small Town Killers is funny, very , very funny.

Again, it’s not something you see coming as Ib and Edward spend the first first scenes of the film bickering with their wives, lying to clients and generally coming across as idiotic boobs of the highest order, but as Small Town Killers assembles its well-worn pieces and narrative touch points many of which you’ll see coming from miles away (helped by the flat, seemingly unending scenery around the Danish town of Nibe), things become sillier, funnier, more over the top and so madly nuts, that you fear the film will collapse under the weight of its lunatic audacity.

But director and writer Ole Bornedal somehow manages to keep all the balls in the air – just; no one said the film was a classic of polished farce-making nor the high point of the genre – and as one improbably event piles onto another, and the four leads are forced to confront that this mess of their own making has no elegant escape route, you find yourself laughing way more than you bargained for.

Small Town Killers somehow manages to pull cinematic victory, or at least lo-fi muted hilarity from the jaws of shambling defeat, connecting a whole lot of disparate dots that resemble a random pattern of measles more than the makings of a semi-coherent plot.

In the end, the films works because it doesn’t forget that in the middle of all the silliness and slapstick, that you need characters who make sense to the audience, whose very down to earth needs to be love, listened to and to matter, are relatable even in the midst of grand, barely-together farce.

It’s reminder to pretty much every comedy filmmaker out there that, regardless of how over the top lollipop crazy your film is, how delightfully farcical it might be, or even how well it all goes together in the end, that if your characters matter, and they do in Small Town Killers, that you may just, against all odds, end up with  an endearing, funny film that people will enjoy despite all expectations to the contrary.

 

How do you make a blockbuster movie trailer? Auralnauts makes it hilariously easy

 

“There is nothing new under the sun” proclaims the writer of Ecclesiastes 1:9, and while it’s a fair bet that they weren’t talking about blockbuster movies or the trailers their herald their behemoth-like impending presence, you can’t help but feel that had they been alive today, and seen just one Michael Bay movie, they’d likely have amended their text to specifically reference these movies.

Whatever you think of them, and frankly many of them suffer from being too bloated too CGI-heavy and too narratively muddled or weak (and a quite a number do not thankfully), they are damn near impossible to escape, with much of that near-ubiquity due to their equally-bombastic trailers.

The good people at Auralnauts have seen to make merry with the way in which many of these trailers all seem to follow a very similar pattern, ending up like near-identical marketing clones of each other.

Without any visuals and just some very cleverly-placed phrases, and a great cover of “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”, originally by Dead or Alive, they demonstrate just how alike these trailers are.

Big, bright, shiny, aurally dense and slight on details but rich on verbal and visual tropes, they are pretty much all akin to one another.

Much like, unfortunately for those of who us who some variety in our cinematic offerings, like the movies whose praises they sing.

Feel like you’ve seen it all before? Yeah, you have …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

BB-8 loses his head over cutest new residents of Star Wars universe

(image via YouTube (c) Lucasfilm/ Disney)

 

Unless you are obsessively keeping up with every shred, snippet and morsel of news about the seemingly neverending stream of Star Wars movies these days – not complaining being an old fan from 1977 days but there are, to be fair, many films in the pipeline – you may not have heard of the Porgs, cute as hell creatures that seem destined to be the stars of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which releases in December this year.

Inhabitants of the planet Ahch-To, where Master Jedi Luke Skywalker exiled himself followed the climactic events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, they are an undeniably plucky, fun avian species who, in the latest of a series of Blips videos produced by the Star Wars YouTube channel, seem to have taken a liking to BB-8, who debuted, to his storm of cuteness, in 2015’s The Force Awakens.

More specifically, to BB-‘s head.

And as you can see in this adorably hilarious short film, which will only take 45 seconds of your precious galactic time, he sets about with typical tenacity to get it back.

Something the Porgs don’t take to kindly … and so the fun continues …

(source: Mashable)

 

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There are Aliens Among Us … and so is Torchwood (again)

(cover art via Fansided (c) Big Finish)

 

From the get-go, I loved Torchwood, Russell T. Davies’, sometimes quirky, often harshly emotional, never dull and boring, spin-off from the long-running Doctor Who TV series.

Treating dealing with aliens as an almost gladiatorial sports in which the fate of the universe hung in the balance, and death was always a possibility as payment for your efforts – forget any kind of trophy; Torchwood was always a hush-hush idea that the public-at-large knew nothing about  – the show was authentically real and confronting in a way that Doctor Who, for all its gravitas at times, was never allowed to be.

Yes, it was almost willfully uneven, veering from supremely touching “Captain Jack Harkness” (S1, E12) through to a little silly (“Countrycide”, S1, E6) but it was never less than brilliantly-imaginative, searingly emotional and grimly real.

This was life in the alien-fighting trenches and it was hard, brutal and dark.

Unfortunately, Torchwood also lost its way quite quickly with season 3 “Children of Earth”, patchy, creepy but watchable, and season 4 (“Miracle Day”) so off the boil, thanks partly to an attempt to American-ise a very British show, that I have, to this day, yet to finish off the show.

 

 

The good news is that Torchwood had enough life, and death in it, to merit a return visit in the form of “Aliens Among Us”, an audio production from Big Finish that reunites the surviving members of the cast with some new additions in what is being hailed as a winning return to form. (To be fair Titan Comics has released a winning series of comics that did a great job of continuing the show; even so, having the voices of the beloved cast back is an entirely different special something.)

As you might expect, those it’s been a long time between extraterrestrial drinks, the Torchwood team of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen (Eve Myles) is, according to the synopsis from Big Finish, pretty much to business as usual in the much-anticipated season 5:

“Big Finish picks up the events after Miracle Day with Torchwood: Aliens Among Us…

“Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper have restarted Torchwood. But it’s in a very different Cardiff. Something terrible’s happened to the city. With every day getting darker, will Torchwood need to adopt a whole new approach?”

Thanks to the close involvement of Russell T Davies however – read all about it at Fansided – who has a penchant for upsetting the narrative apple cart, this doesn’t mean the team will emerge unscathed from their latest adventures:

“Some of the thoughts that Russell had are things we would never dare do. Big Finish normally (rightly) has a custodial duty to the brands it licences – take them interesting, amazing places but, at the end of the day, return them to the garage without a scratch. With Aliens Among Us, Russell’s approach is “Drive it off a cliff! Bring them back, kill them off…” Some of the stuff to come is really shocking.”

So they’re back, it’s on for young and old, and we don’t know who’ll make it out alive in the always titanic battle between humanity, aliens, and the tortured souls of Torchwood’s won.

Just like old times then!

Torchwood: Aliens Among Us Part 1 is available now from Big Finish.

The short and the short of it: The Looking Planet

(image via Los Angeles Film review (c) Eric Law Anderson)

 

SNAPSHOT
This CGI 3D Animated Short Film and winner of over 50 film festival jury and audience awards including Best Short Film, Best Sci-Fi Film, Best Animated Film, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Design. During the construction of the universe, a young member of the Cosmos Corps of Engineers decides to break some fundamental laws in the name of self-expression. (synopsis via YouTube)

Not everyone likes to follow the rules.

Some people see it as a cardinal sin, an upsetting of the apple cart that cannot be countenanced under any circumstance; others, however, see it as a virtue to be celebrated, an independence of thought and action that leads to all manner of insights and breakthroughs that otherwise might not happen.

There’s no prizes for guessing which side of the implacably-opposed divide Lufo sits on, the 14 billion son of a supervisor from the Cosmos Corps of Engineers who is frustrated at the lack of artistic vision evinced by plans for the part of our solar system he’s responsible for creating.

Rather than stew about it as many others would, or simply yield to the rules and think no more of it, Lufo sets to rectifying the plan’s unimaginative deficiencies and results are, as you’ll see, quite monumental.

The Looking Planet is a real joy, a homage to what happens when someone dares to think beyond the been-there-done-that and the obvious and dares to try something a little bit (or a lot) different.

 

El Patito: Sesame Street parodies Despacito in the sweetest Ernie and Rubber Ducky way

(image via YouTube (c) Sesame Workshop)

 

Ah ubiquity you are a double-edged sword.

In the case of the catchiest song of the US summer, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (feat. Daddy Yankee), that means lots of airplay, remixes without count and the constant presence of the song on just about platform imaginable.

It also means, Sesame Street fans rejoice, an absolutely gorgeous remix of the song featuring Ernie and Rosita singing a song of devotion to the object of his longstanding devotion, Rubber Ducky, in a gloriously-good bilingual take on the song.

“The family-friendly version of the bop pays homage to the original song while Ernie sings about his rubber duckie, a.k.a. el patito: ‘Rubber Duckie, it is a connection/ It doesn’t have to be a tubby session, ya/ Take my day from zero to 11, ya.’

“Then comes the chorus in Spanish: ‘Oh, el patito, es mi favorito/ Donde quiera que vaya hace su sonido/ El patito es tu buen amigo/ El patito.'” (ew.com)

As you’d expect from Sesame Street, which has consistently proven itself adept at having fun and teaching great lessons at the same time, the song is a joy, even down to a typically curmudgeonly Bert moaning about “that song again”.

Ha! This is so catchy even Bert eventually succumbs … and yeah, so will you.

 

Movie review: Logan Lucky

(image courtesy IMP Awards)

 

If you’re a good law-abiding member of society, and let’s face it, that’s most of us, there’s a great big give-a-finger-to-the-law visceral thrill in watching people that are not you embark on a life of crime.

Much like apocalypse movies (my takeout food is here; now I shall watch the world end in the safety of my loungeroom), we are content to watch people metaphorically shoot the sheriff, challenge the law, break it outright even, and know that we won’t be spending the time in jail.

That’s assuming, of course, that they go to jail.

In Logan Lucky, Steven Soderbergh’s much-heralded return to moviemaking after an equally much-publicised retirement (like many creative people, he understandably couldn’t resist the allure of bringing something new to life), it’s an even bet if the protagonists will even end up in jail as they set about stealing a big wad of cash from the home of NASCAR, the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Positioned as a happy-go-lucky us-vs-them crime caper that plays on its director’s previous wrong-side-of-the-law directorial efforts by christening itself, heavily tongue-in-cheek, as Ocean’s 7-11, Logan Lucky is a sweet-natured, funny, lo-fi crime heist that focuses every bit as much on the lives of the characters as it does on the mechanics of the job at hand.

In fact, you could well argue that this time the concentration is well and truly on the people committing the crime rather the lawbreaking itself, and while it doesn’t strike as serious a pose as Baby Driver or Hell of High Water, it does place just as heavy an emphasis on why people resort to measures as drastic as a high-stakes heist to keep their heads above water.

The two brothers at the centre of the story, Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver) Logan, are not exactly “winning at life” to borrow a popular social media tagline, with the former divorced and out of work, the latter short a lower arm after two tours of duty in Iraq.

Granted there are positive elements in their life – Jimmy has an adorable, whippet-smart daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) with whom he is very close and Clyde is gainfully employed as a bartender at the amusingly-named Duck Tape, and both are close to their haidresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough), but on the grand scale of life’s successes, they are distinctly tipped away from the positive side of the scale by a considerable margin.

 

 

Enter a clever plan dreamed up by the brothers Logan (much to everyone’s surprise; they are seen as cursed by life by many and not capable of ingenious out-of-the-box thinking), and much like the Oceans film before it, Logan Lucky plays out its constituent parts with a wry touch and a clever hand that willfully obscures what’s actually going on, adding more engaging depth to the film, which is not short of narrative nous or a slow-burning hilarity.

The reason the hilarity is slowburning rather than out-and-out slapstick or sitcom-ready silly, is that Soderbergh spends a good deal of time helping us to understand why these characters are the way they are, why they choose to undertake this risky route to financial wellbeing and not drawing the humour from belittling them or patronising them.

Yes they live in a dirt poor part of West Virginia where Glen Campbell’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a unifying hymn of love and solidarity for a people who pretty only have each other, but Soderbergh zeroes in on their willingness to do what it takes to survive, and the wit and dark humour they employ while they’re doing it.

Sure there are funny references to “The Google” and “all the Twitters”, that suggests people not fully plugged into the new digital economy, but these observations are never wantonly mean or nasty and Logan Lucky always treats its characters as reasonably fully-formed, authentic human beings with needs and desires any of us can identify with.

Even the distinctly cartoonish Joe Bang (Daniel Craig in fine redneck form), the explosives expert for the heist, who is busted out of and then back into jail in one day in one of the film’s most amusing sequences – the Game of Thrones scene mid fake riot is worth the price of admission alone – and his brothers Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid) who, for all their quirks and foibles, are credited with actual skills and street smarts.

Socially self-aware? Renaissance men? Not even close but what they do, they do well, and Logan Lucky is an infinitely more interesting film by letting the humour spring from their not quite on point views on life than the far too-easily-exploitable flaws in their character or lifestyles (which would have been easy fodder for a less sophisticated screenplay and less talented director).

As a consequence, you take the characters seriously; they may not have access to life’s full arsenal of EQ or IQ (though they’re not far off the mark at times), but they’re not idiots either, and they’re quite likable to boot, so you want them to succeed, and not just because you want to viscerally stick it to the man.

 

 

Pop culture savvy – that makes sense given who the director and screenwriter (word is Rebecca Blunt does not exist and is, in fact, Soderbergh; no one knows for sure) – funny and possessed of easy charm that belies the intensity of its characters besieged lives, Logan Lucky is at once a celebration of the enduring idea that anything is possible in these here United States and that many times it is not, an appealing concept trodden under by the inequalities and dog-eat-dog nature of the nation.

Balancing these two ideas actually works very well, as does the film’s unwillingness to poke fun at the southern milieu it inhabits in favour of celebrating the strong sense of community and support that is commonplace in places with not much else to lean on.

It’s refreshing in many ways to see a filmmaker throw so many social issues into the mix without diluting the humour, and vice versa, and so, while you will be laughing, and laughing often, at the oneliners delivered with a straight face, you’ll be also be savouring the well thought-out and beautifully articulated musings on social deprivation and how it shapes a person’s and a community’s character.

Logan Lucky is intelligent humour of the highest order, and while it might not always build up a full speed of steam, particularly where you expect it to – it is happy, mostly winningly, to idle along and play out its plot with admirable sangfroid – it is never unlikable, always very funny and never less than clever, giving us a chilled heist movie that nevertheless has a lot of important things hanging portentously in the balance, even serving up an ending that ties everything together neatly, and yet, quite possibly, and appealingly, does not.

Welcome back Steven Soderbergh – Logan Lucky is proof that retirement is not for everyone and we should thank the cinema gods for that.

 

How should Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have ended? Here’s how!

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Since it hit theaters we started building this episode. Some How It Should Have Ended’s take longer than others and this one was one of those longer ones. One because there are so many characters in this movie we had to actually cut out some of our ideas. And Two we were in an extremely busy time over here with babies being born, going to conventions, and then moving HISHE into a new home. But it’s finally here! So please enjoy! This episode was a blast to work on. I’m sorry it couldn’t be 20 minutes long with 5 bonus credits scenes. (synopsis via Laughing Squid)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a comparative disappointment.

After the exhilaration of  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 which busted open the rather staid Marvel template with vivacity, joy and some of the most cartoonishly-frenetic action I’d witnessed in a film (yeah I liked  it – can you tell?), Vol. 2 felt like it lacked a certain something special.

It was simply the loss of novelty or sequelitis – it was the very real sense that while the characters were as charming and funny and ever, with all the in-your-face attitude you could ask for, the narrative really went nowhere in particular, leaving you feeling fairly “meh” at the end of it.

Clearly I’m not the only person who thought this, because the folks at How It Should Have Ended have felt the need to offer some alternate endings that might have lifted the film a little or a lot.

They’ve even roped in some non-canon superheroes and villains with some daddy issues to bulk up Peter Quill’s planet-sized problems which while intriguing, kinda end up fizzling out.

Not so these endings which are off-the-charts silly and fun, entirely in keeping with the franchise’s irreverent vibe.