Guardians of the galaxy Vol 2: a film review

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If you loved Guardians of the galaxy as much as I did, you will love Vol 2.

Even though the first instalment introduced us to Guardians-style humour – the name-calling (Trash Panda!), characters trying to upstage one another (and then crashing the ship) and the long debates at the most inopportune times – the second instalment is still incredibly funny. It once again focuses on friendship versus family. The soundtrack is great. The characters are quite complex (for an action flick); they have backstories, and some of them are even allowed to redeem themselves. And, yes, there’s balls to the walls action.

If my review thus far sounds one-dimensional, even lacklustre, blame it on the 4DX technology. It distracts from the film, even from an action-adventure blockbuster like this. I will return to watch it in 2D or 3D, and perhaps add to my review.

I was five years old when my mother dragged me to every ballet and opera performance at the Kroonstad Skousaal. (In a dress and stockings, nogal.) The opera bug bit hard. I learnt how to operate the turntable, and soon terrorised the household with bursts of opera at the most unfortunate times. Mostly Sunday mornings at 6 am. My mother still reminisces about my five-year-old self reclining in the bean bag with eyes closed and heart fluttering.

In the end, it was film that would turn out to be my true love. It happened at the Newcastle drive-in, of all godforsaken places. My father took me to see Jewel of the Nile, Raiders of the lost ark, Romancing the stone, ET, Alien and other classics. (Had I not been limited to films of his choosing, I might have seen Star wars, Raising Arizona or even First blood! But then, my father found Bob Dylan a bit “weird”. Eish.)

My love affair with film bloomed when I discovered Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank. It was situated mere minutes away from UJ, where I was attempting, but failing, a BA degree in political science, of all things silly. I missed many a boring class eating popcorn whilst taking in every second of Three colours: blue, Dogville, Reservoir dogs, etc. (I could, thank the heavens, watch whatever I wanted.) For a bank manager’s daughter born in Pretoria and raised in Kroonstad, Newcastle and Alberton, it was quite the event. I even dressed up. (No dresses or stockings, though.)

These days, I only go to the cinema when I attend press screenings. “Why?” you might wonder, if you have got this far in the article/rant/musing. Because of the sorry state of cinema theatres, and my inability to change it.

You all know the drill if you have been to the movies over the last few years. Either the lights are left on, or the film is out of focus or zoomed in. The sound is barely audible on some occasions, but on other occasions it threatens to pop eardrums. The staff are generally badly trained. The popcorn costs an arm and a leg. The coffee is horrible. Seats are double-booked. Don’t even get me started on people talking on their cell phones, arriving 30 minutes late or going out again for that second box of popcorn. Also, I have a home entertainment setup. I can control the focus, the volume and the lights.

4DX is the latest attempt by Nu Metro to get people like me off their own couches and willing to shell out their hard-earned ZARs for the latest release. I admit my heart once again fluttered when I sat down and ogled the fans, lights and race car-type seats. Would going to the movies become an experience again? Would I anxiously anticipate the release of intriguing titles?

Not! I hated it. Your chair vibrates, tips to all sides and jerks quite violently. (I’ve read that pregnant women and children under five are not allowed to suffer the 4DX experience.) I was dreading every action scene, because then the chair shenanigans would start. No box of popcorn or handbag would stay on your lap.

The mist that blows out of the chair in front of you fogs up your [already iffy] 3D glasses, which you now have to clean with the closest lappie. In the dark. Whilst holding on to your chair for dear life. What is happening on the screen is forgotten.

The wind that blows at you from the massive fans hardly simulates the feeling of driving the convertible car on the screen. The lightning flashes just blind you. It is a gimmick, finish en klaar.

Comments made by other reviewers as we left the cinema were, “I crashed my arm into the armrest,” “I cracked a neck vertebra,” or “Be grateful you didn’t see the Fate of the furious in 4DX!” They seemed to agree with me and with other reviews I found on Google. 4DX is a one-off experience that you won’t return to, because it cuts you off from the one thing you are there to do, which is watch a film.

I am not sure that the big movie companies could entice me to return to the theatre. They are competing against home theatre setups, high speed fibre and on-demand entertainment. Plus, the quality of television has become astounding over the past few years. Directors and actors have 6 to 12 episodes of roughly 40–50 minutes each to tell a story. They do not have to squash the narrative into 90–120 minutes.

Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro will have to go back to the drawing board.

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