The Screen Critic: Great space adventure, a Disney remake and four great actresses in the worst comedy

May 05, 2023
Image caption: Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 (Marvel); Jane Fonda in 80 for Brady (Paramount); Jude Law as Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Wendy (Disney+). Source: Supplied

Star-Lord, Mantis, Groot, Drax and the rest of the gang are back for another spin in one of the better Marvel sub-franchises with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The focus this time around is Rocket, the much-loved, impressively animated gun-toting raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) who is mortally wounded in the first reel during a kidnap attempt.

Saving his life is the catalyst for the interplanetary adventure Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his crew embark upon as they seek to find the passkey to unlock the device preventing them from administering aid to their rodent friend. (Who said
Hollywood was running out of story ideas?)

It’s a good enough excuse for lots of splashy visual effects, but the real payoff with Vol 3 is the backstory we get about Rocket’s origins. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn of how he was part of an experiment and contains genetic material that now makes him so valuable.

There aren’t as many laughs with this instalment, but the film does fill its typically generous running time better than most Marvel sequels, including an unusually strong ending. Well, for a Marvel movie anyway.

Inspired by the military experiences of its writer and director Elegance Bratton, The Inspection tells of the ordeal patriotic young man Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) endures after enlisting in the Marines. While he can handle the physical demands, it’s the resentment of his homosexuality that puts him in peril. 

A well-meaning drama, the heavy-handed direction makes the film predictable, especially with its clumsy handling of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” creed. It’s a film better suited to the stream.

The age-old theme of sibling rivalry gets a good going over in the spirited British teen action comedy Polite Society

Aspiring to be a stuntwoman, schoolgirl Ria (Priya Kansara) is upset to learn her beloved older sister Lena (Ritu Arya) has thrown in her dreams of becoming an artist to marry the handsome Salim (Akshay Khanna).

Pushing back against the Pakistani custom of arranged marriages, Ria recruits her closest friends to spoil the relationship by plotting Salim’s downfall – only she didn’t account for Raheela (Nimra Bucha), for Salim’s fire-breathing dragon mother who doesn’t want her elaborate plans ruined.

There’s a neat balance between earthy humour and over-the-top fight scenes (showing writer/director Nida Manzoor’s love of Jackie Chan), though the final reels do spin-off in a bizarre sci-fi direction. Still, it keeps the fun vibe going.         

Oh, Heavens. What were they thinking? That’s the thought that’s bound to haunt you while watching 80 for Brady, an alleged comedy so bad it might just make you cry. For where else will you see four iconic actresses debase their legacies for the sake of a film that is about as funny as dental surgery?

Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno – legends, all – play four elderly women who head off to the Superbowl football game to see their hero Tom Brady in action. Produced by Brady, who also appears in the film as a guiding spirit, the film is very loosely based on a real event. That’s no excuse, though.

Replete with product placement and many deeply embarrassing moments – watching 85-year-old Jane Fonda acting sexy might just make you weep – the film is a cringe-worthy travesty as its stars flail about trying to bring life to what should have been a fun romp.

In cases such as this, there is, of course, the off-chance that those who derive a perverse pleasure in watching bad movies might find some dark joy in the debacle. Other than that, head for the hills.

As with almost all of Disney’s live-action remakes of classic animated films, Peter Pan and Wendy (Disney+) doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the splendid 1953 film, instead opting for a darker take on the legendary “boy who wouldn’t grow up”.

Blessed with a huge budget the film looks sensational, delivering in its climactic half-hour a truly wonderful sequence involving an extended fight on Captain Hook’s pirate ship as it takes flight above the sea.

Alas, many liberties have been taken with the original, chiefly concerning the relationship between Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) and Hook (Jude Law). Oddly, Law does not also play the father of Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson), a departure from casting tradition that drains the film of much of its meaning.       

While it’s an OK time filler, the film simply lacks buoyancy and a real sense of fun, despite director David Lowery’s deep love for the Disney original. 

Something clearly got lost in the translation, though enough of it works to pass muster as a viewing option on a rainy afternoon.

For more visit with updates on Twitter at @jimschembri



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