Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 – movie review

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 – movie review

Ensemble movies are all the rage now, and so are comic book based ones.
If you look at the top ten movies of last year, you will see that short list dominated by movies that combine these elements.

The first franchise was also the movie that propelled Chris Pratt from a relatively unknown and rather pudgy TV actor into an A list action actor, who is moving from one blockbuster to the next.

Guardians Of The Galaxy (GOTG) itself was itself a sleeper super hit. Coming out of nowhere to blast into the stratosphere of awesomeness in the middle of much larger comic franchises, which were also hitting their stride. So what does the second movie in this franchise have to offer?

Well it does subscribe to the bigger, badder and louder style that bears some similarity to the Fast and Furious series, but one big difference is how you can tease out a reasonable story amidst the mayhem and like the best of the action movies it has humor and romance thrown in. My gold standard of this genre is “Raiders Of the Lost Ark”, and a swashbuckling, devil may care Harrison Ford whipped, swished, kissed and leapt onto the big screen and into our hearts.

Here Chris Pratt isn’t Harrison, but he does try hard and manages to combine that magical concoction of being a superhero of sorts with the right added amount of comic relief, and a little sizzle with Zoe Saldana thrown in. There is genuine chemistry between the cast members, and they look like they are really having fun whilst blasting away the space monsters and villains.

Like the best blockbusters, despite a plethora of action to keep the fans appetite for blasts and booms happy, there is also a good plot, and we find out more about each character, both the bright as well as the dark side. And it’s often the latter which pulls the fans in. Movie goers enjoy seeing that these action heroes are not perfect and have little secrets beneath the veneer of superhero-ness. Kurt Russell adds a new dimension as Peter Quill’s father ego, whilst the turn of Mickey Rooker also adds more depth to his arrow whistling personality.

Little Groot is a hoot, and each character gets more meat in turn, which giving plenty of space (pun intended) for further development. 

We also see a few faces turning up near the end, which suggests that the ensemble will be expanded ala The Expendables. This series is destined for even more greatness.

For those home theatre fans, I would say that this one is a no brainer when the Blu Ray disc comes out. Run out and pre-book yours. The surround action, as well as the bass are all demo quality.

Finally the standout of the movie is often not the action, not the acting, nor the CGI, but the soundtrack. And this is what makes GOTG what it is. Volume 2.

GOTG would have been just another action movie in space based on a comic book, but it was significantly elevated to the status of stardom by the awesome 60&70s soundtrack, and that wonderful Sony Walkman. In GOTG 2, the music again adds that extra bit which makes it just that bit more wonderful and propels this movie into one of the best of the year. No doubt it’s early days yet in 2017, but I will put my money where my mouth is and venture to vote that this movie will be one of the biggest hits and most enjoyable movies of 2017. It’s no Oscar award contender, but it will certainly be one of the movies that I will take out of my collection and watch over and over again. I will certainly take out my old cassettes and play that funky music many times over.

Highly recommended.  

Car options from 100 to 140k

I have grouped my suggestions into four price ranges.
These are just some ideas, covering sedans, MPVs, SUVs and hatchbacks that you want.


The new Kia K3 will come in under 100k and has a solid conti feel.
The Mazda 3 is a fine car, although the outgoing Corolla is the epitome of reliability. However you may feel that after the Volvo it will be very hard to return to a Jap or Thai made car. The interior feel, the level of safety etc is quite different.

The Honda HRV from Kah Motors is a very dependable, spacious car, and being made in Japan, it offers a lot for not too much money. 5 star safety rating too. However it's still a Jap car and once more the feel is different.
You can also wait for the 2017 Corolla.
Only the Mazda brand offers a conti feel, and likewise, Kia actually feels very solid too. 


Now at this budget, there are much more choices of cars with a nicer feel. The outgoing Camry is spacious and dependable. The Mazda 6 will carry your family and more. Solid feel, and drives well too. Plus it's pretty fuel economical and has a conti feel. 
You could opt for another Volvo V40, it is a safe car, and as an outgoing model, they are more likely to offer discounts on it. 
But do check on things like the loan quantum, how hard is it to get a service booking, etc


Now this is where it gets really interesting. 

My choices will be either a Parallel Import Toyota Harrier SUV or the Mercedes B180.
For reliability, luxury and decent fuel consumption, the Harrier is very impressive. Plus it's spacious, and there are many on the road, so getting spares isn't hard. The main issue is that it's a PI car, so you need to do some homework. Thankfully, one of our friends is a PI and can sort this out without the perils.

The B180 offers a lot for the money.
It's safe, has been around since 2011 without much fuss, good fuel economy too, and has more space than a Merc E class! So putting the entire family in is easy. If someone is less mobile or you need to transport kids or parents, it's a piece of cake. There are many functions and other reasons which make it attractive, so read on for more info:

Read The Manual Of Your New Ride

In days gone by, one could truly hope into a new car, gun the motor, and make tire tracks into the sunset. 
However in the modern day and age, even the most basic cars come with some electronics, some form of gadgets and even the most haughty salesman from Toyota will need to spend a few minutes tell you about the basic functions.
( I recall going to the yard to pick up my Corolla myself, the man tossed me my keys, and that was it - good luck and good bye) 

However that would be missing out on a significant part of the car driving experience. Yes, you can put the car into auto, press on the pedal and go, but these days there are so many more functions, and you will get a lot more out of the car if you spend a little time to learn some of these functions. 

Of course, you could pick up the phone call or text your rep, or ask in a forum and get some replies, but IMO, part of the joy of owning a car is to explore the functions and pick up one nice surprise after another. Perhaps it's because I am new to Merc, so each function is new, and also my last car was from a different era, where the only thing auto was the gearbox. But it has been part of my joy to learn stuff like the different driving modes, try them out and store the settings. Even the budget entry models have learning functions, and a capacity to store your settings under the "I" mode. There are also other surprises like the air filter, which is capable of filtering out PM 2.5 particles, and you can drive in the fresh air mode without sucking in fumes from the nearby cars (of course if there's a huge truck in front of you spewing black fumes, be smart and switch to recirculating air). 

On the other hand, a repeat buyer, or a busy businessman buying a three point star could want to go on with his/her new ride and bark orders at his rep whenever he finds something wrong, or just drive into the workshop and demand instant solutions for a car which he/her paid a lot for. 

So the answer I feel is somewhere in between. You don't not need to be a geek or techie, and pore over the manual many times, nor do we want to drive 'blind'. If we regard learning the functions as a chore, it will be so. If not it can be a whole lot of fun. I recall the day I got my ride, and we took pics, had a laugh and of course paid scant attention to the rep, who was valiantly trying to explain the functions. So yes, the Merc rep does have a checklist of functions he has to go through, and I have posted about that car collection process before. I am pretty sure the rep would have touched on this "I" mode, but I think I might have lost focus then.

In the same vein, I do spend some time reading the manual of my new hifi or oven, just enough to make sure it doesn't blow up and I get to enjoy all the various functions. I guess you could say I am a geek / techie at heart.

As always YMMV - your mileage may vary. But since it's already our ride, why not enjoy it to the fullest. 

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

It's all about speaker positioning in getting the best sound for your home theatre system

A little reminder on the balance we have to face in our domestic settings.
The best surround effects we can achieve is dependant on the balance between WAF at one end of the spectrum, and the best position / speakers that money can buy.
So once we have decided on what our wallets can afford, followed by what our wives can tolerate, (especially those using living rooms as a HT setup), then we work within those parameters. We will then need to understand that the sound will be compromised, and that we can live with that, and no Audyssey or other auto-eq magic can fix that.
So for example, if a sofa MUST be located dead centre or right against the wall, we need to understand what we can achieve.
Or if the rear surround speaker Must be in the ceiling, then again, the sound will travel from the top to the sides to the fronts in an uneven fashion.

In planning for a new system, either spend money hiring a pro, or save and plan on some elbow grease.
Which means that you need to do the calibration manually, or at least buy an AVR with the latest auto-EQ, eg Denon and Marantz use the latest Audyssey XT32, which isn't found on some of the other brands.

So for a start, understand the ideal speaker positions, and see how your domestic settings allows you to get as close to this as possible. Then see how you can run those cables. If you are doing some major reno, you can cut into the ceiling, or run some trunking, which is cheaper but not as aesthetically pleasing.
Or use the reflective speakers.

Where you site the sub is again a compromise between the best position obtained via the sub crawl and calibration, or the spot your wife dictates.

Once we have understood the paradigm, then we can plan to improve what we can, within the parameters that our wives and renovation allows.

Finally, in any HT, the centre channel is the most important, and even if you use satellites, if you can get a bigger centre, it will reward your movie experience as much as, if not more than buying the biggest baddest sub in town.

Just posting a summary of some discussions with a few readers.

I wish you all the best in your renovations for your new HT setup, cheers.

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