Category Archives: Movies

iReview :: TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight

The world of the Transformers is on the verge of collapse and as far as their concerned, they’re taking everyone — including the human race — with them. How can the two races survive when their leader Optimus Prime has been turned into an instrument of destruction in The Last Knight!

Whether you’ve been a fan of director Michael Bay’s Transformers film franchise or not, one thing is for certain, it was the only toy-turned-big-screen star to survive the boom of the new millennium. Hasbro, the toy manufacturer that holds the claim on the property, also attempted to get several of its other brands to crossover, but Transformers was the only one that stuck. A decade, and five films later, audiences are still filling multiplexes to catch their favorite alien robots duke it out!

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More than Meet the Eye

Perhaps the success of the Transformers can be easily equated to the nostalgia factor of the brand. Based on the toy line from the 80s that gave rise to the equally popular animated adventures, the enhanced mythology that has been built around this property has far-reaching resonance with its audience. The idea was always very cutting edge; the origins of these technological marvels, robots from a far off planet called Cybertron engaged in a civil war that lands them millions of miles away from home, and forced to hide in plain sight on Earth.

The evil Decepticons, conquerors by nature, are now determined to rape the planet Earth of its raw resources in an effort to return to their home planet and defeat their enemies, the Autobots, a heroic group of rebels lead by Optimus Prime. The human race finds itself caught in the middle of these two titans as the battle escalates, and the power struggle between the two forces threatens to upend all the good that could come from these newfound allies. When Michael Bay launched the franchise in 2007 with Transformers the film was an instant hit!

Fate of The Last Knight

With the recent trend among movie studios now to dilute franchise fatigue by simply “rebooting” the same brand every other year or so, dusting off some of the old and retooling casts and elaborating on the “origin story” formula, when Paramount Pictures decided that Transformers needed some refreshing, they asked Bay to “move things in a slightly different direction”. The last film Age of Extinction did away with most of the previous three films core group of characters, and recast a proven action hero Mark Wahlberg as the lead human.

His everyman mechanic/inventor Cade Yeager was a step-up from the millennially marketed hero that was keeping the driver’s seat warm. The robots, of course, are the real stars of the film, but Wahlberg brought a new kind of legitimacy to the franchise and was able to kickstart the franchise’s “Generation 2” act which pushed the mythology of the Transformers further than the previous installments. Though the intention all along to build on the world of the alien robots and their connection with the human race was something that Bay profited from putting forward.

Now with the fifth film Transformers: The Last Knight there are suggestions that this will be the last one, at least in this series, and perhaps this may be true especially since its director capitalized from including story points from across the previous films to tightly wrap things up, but also leave a very important plot point hanging just in reach for the inevitable follow-up. What sets this episode apart from its predecessors is how much more richly developed the story is; the narrative is so much more inviting regardless of whether audiences were connected to the previous four films’ narrative or not.

The Transformers are all mostly fugitives being hunted down by humans who want them off the planet and gone, especially after the events that ravaged Chicago (see Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and have gone into hiding along with Cade, but there appears to be an object moving towards the earth and threatening it with annihilation! The humans strike up a bargain with the evil Decepticons, when they learn that Cade is in possession of an amulet that prophecies the arrival of the “last knight”.

It all leads to the inevitable final battle with the humans caught in the middle and Optimus Prime’s alliances in question!

And although everything may feel as if it was tightly wrapped up and delivered to an end, there is that particularly significant plot point mentioned earlier. Among all the Transformers, perhaps the most dangerous has proven the planet-sized devourer called Unicron first introduced in the 1985 animated full-length feature Transformers: The Movie. That creature we learn lies dormant and embedded within our very planet, and it is threatening to awakening soon! So what will that mean for the Earth itself? We’ll have to wait and see!

See the trailer here:

Transformer: The Last Knight directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel and Laura Haddock is now showing in theaters everywhere and is distributed by Paramount Pictures.

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Here He Comes! First Look at SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING Movie Posters

The blockbuster movie season is in full-effect and the just released SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING movie posters premiere a nostalgic look at the web-slinger now incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

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Most of us have heading into the multiplex this month as the official start of the blockbuster movie season has taken over, first with the opening of Marvel Films Guardians of the Universe Vol. 2 and most recently with WB Wonder Woman which is heralding the beginning of that studio’s dedicated DC Comics extended cinematic universe. After last year’s hit Captain America: Civil War took audiences by storm, the most exciting take-away was that film’s introduction of the amazing Spider-Man into the connected universe!

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We’re now getting our first look at what the new film is going to look like, a partnership between Marvel Films and Sony Pictures, which has long held proprietary ownership over the Web-Slinger’s movie brand. The film starring Tom Holland, reprising his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, first introduced in Captain America: Civil War will also be joined by Robert Downey, Jr. as the mysterious benefactor behind the wall-crawler, Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

The film will (re)induct Michael Keaton into the genre that he helped launch into the mainstream when the actor starred in 1989s hit Batman as the villainous Vulture — it’ll be the first appearance of the winged antagonist in a motion picture, though he was potential considered as an additional adversary to have appeared in 2007s Spider-Man 3. Check out the new posters below and lining the walls of theaters all across the country in anticipation of Spidey’s return on July 7.

See the trailer here:

Spider-Man Homecoming directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton and Zendaya opens on July 7 and is distributed by Sony/Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.

iReview :: WONDER WOMAN

The most anticipated film of the blockbuster season shatters all expectations! WONDER WOMAN does more than crack the glass ceiling on action films, it busts it wide open and brings the DC Comics trinity full circle on the big screen.

(WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!) This article makes several allusions to major plot points in the new Warner Bros. Pictures release Wonder Woman.

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After a gratuitously remarkable introduction in director Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, all eyes were on actress Gal Gadot who was saddling up to the big boys and going toe-to-toe as the third part of a pop-culture trinity, weaving her way into this summer’s most anticipated blockbuster Wonder Woman. DC Comics has been languishing behind the competitor Marvel Films when it comes to establishing a cohesive cinematic narrative, though under the guidance of executive producers Snyder and his wife and producing partner Deborah, the pair may have finally set the train on its tracks, and it took the Amazing Amazon to light the way.

The Stuff of Legends

What has always made the character of Wonder Woman so compelling is her backstory which is rooted deeply in theological mythologies, as the daughter of the Queen of the Amazons she is raised on an island populated only by a society of woman, isolated from the prying eyes of men, as a warrior destined to protect the innocent from the ravages of the worst of injustices: WAR! Wonder Woman’s origins have been revamped, retooled, and reedited throughout her more than 75 year history as a cornerstone character of the DC Comics pantheon.

Introduced as a backup feature in All-Star Comics #8 released in 1941, Wonder Woman would begin her groundbreaking episodes in pulp fiction and comic books, and would also set herself apart from other heroes — one of the first to carry the moniker of “woman” and not that of “girl”. Created by William Moulton Marston and first designed by artist H.G. Peter, Wonder Woman trail blazed a path that had traditionally been paved by her male counterparts.

Where Superman is an alien, the ultimate immigrant on our planet, who derives his superhuman abilities from his exposure to our sun, and Batman is a darkly obsessed billionaire adventure delving out his own brand of justice, Diana is an obviously otherworldly figure with extraordinary gifts bestowed upon her by the gods, but at her core she’s a beautifully incarnated piece of the very planet that she has dedicated herself to protecting. Diana is undoubtedly the most human of all characters.

For nearly a century Wonder Woman has established herself as an icon, representing not only as an obvious force in feminism, but also for the disenfranchised and the innocent — for those who can’t speak for themselves — and with her lasso of truth by her side, Diana has fought for truth, justice as a champion of love and equality. This (of course) only scratches at the surface of this heroines more impressive resume, but begs the question: Why did it take so long to bring Wonder Woman finally to the big screen?

The answer may be something of debate depending on who you might ask, but consider the perfect storm of events in our own culture, and the evolving tide of social civil rights, and it becomes crystal clear. The time for Wonder Woman is now!

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Gal Gadot as the titular heroine embodies everything audiences have been anticipating in Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins and now part of the growing DC Comics expanding cinematic universe.

She’s a Wonder

Director Patty Jenkins own journey to bringing Wonder Woman to life, is itself mythic. The acclaimed filmmaker made her own distinction directing actress Charlize Theron to her Oscar win in 2003’s Monster. Jenkins wasn’t the studio’s first choice for turning this into a feature film. After her initial appearance in BvS which set in motion the expanded DC Comics Cinematic Universe, the task had fallen to Michelle MacLaren in 2013, but she left after citing “creative differences”, and with pre-production in full swing, Jenkins was lassoed in to realize a script by Allan Heinberg.

Basically an origin story, Wonder Woman opens up with Diana (Gal Gadot reprising her role) receiving a distinct attache case from a friend containing a unique item — a recovered photograph of Diana inside the square of a small village flanked by a group of freedom fighters at the conclusion of a campaign during World War I — although Diana doesn’t appear to have aged all that much since that day. The mystery surrounding that moment, first glimpsed in BvS sets up the story for the film…

A very willful child, Princess Diana escapes the confines of her school books and classroom to marvel at the glorious sight of the Amazon warriors engaging in their defensive training, led by her aunt and the general of the armies Antiope (Robin Wright). Though bred for combat, the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) doesn’t want her daughter engaging in battle, at least not anytime soon, preferring that Diana be a child — the only child born on their sheltered isle of Themyscira, a paradise cloaked and sheltered from the world outside.

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One of the film’s first released images illustrates the world of the Amazons beautifully.

But Diana cannot be contained! She sneaks out at night after her bedtime to train with Antiope, and when the pair are discovered, the queen has no other resolve but to comply, and requests that Antiope train Diana to be the best among them. True to her word, the general develops Diana into a fiercely strong and capable combatant, but when a small aircraft crashes just off the edge of their waters, Diana rescues the stranger piloting the ship, brining Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) onto the island. Unfortunately the intelligence officer is being pursued German agents!

A battle between the German invaders and the Amazons ensues and in the melee, Antiope is shot — the bullet’s intended target: Diana! The attack on the island stirs Diana to take action when Trevor reveals that the world is at war and a final initiative is preparing to launch led by the merciless German agent Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his chief collaborator, Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya). Diana, convinced that Ludendorff is the reincarnation of Ares, the God of War, whom the Amazons are sworn to defeat. Determined to wield the God Killer sword, she orchestrates hers and Trevor’s escape from the Island to return to the war and destroy Ares.

And so begins Diana’s journey to becoming Wonder Woman. Although Hippolyta is not in agreement with Diana’s course, she knows it would be impossible for her to detract her daughter from her mission, and the queen reluctantly gives her blessing, but warns Diana: “The world does not deserve you.” With those words, Diana begins her quest and sets to sail for Man’s World and the world war awaiting her with Steve Trevor at her side. The pair arrive in London circa 1918 and begin to strategize their next steps to prevent Ludendorff from exacting his dreading plan, and Diana fulfilling her destiny to stop the God of War.

A New Hope on the Big Screen

Director Patty Jenkins perfectly navigates our heroine from the more than lush and etherial confines of her legendary Paradise Island — a perfect utopia dedicated to the highest arts of culture, philosophy, of body and mind — and displaces the young and naive princess into the middle of the 20th Century and a world in chaos. Diana is uncomfortable with the way that the men govern from behind the safety of their bureaucracy, and the women are relegated to the background often silenced. None of it rings true to the princess, who becomes very frustrated when it’s obvious they aren’t capable of figuring things out on their own. This dimension is perfectly realized by Gadot, who balances impertinence and patience as she becomes more familiar in her new environment.

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Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana (Gal Gadot) prepare to stage a plan that will bring them into the lion’s den and closer to their mutual enemy in Wonder Woman.

When Diana can no longer tolerate the brutality and injustice she is witness to, as men, women and children become victims of Ares influence and the war escalates, she reveals herself as a superpower to be reckoned with. The instance that Diana becomes Wonder Woman in the film, is singular more exciting than the first time that Superman takes flight in Man of Steel — it is the moment that will make the audience cheer with abandon and joyful that finally she has arrived! For the rest of the film you are invested — you’re with her!

Choosing to extrapolate Wonder Woman as a period piece will remind savvy audiences of the similarities to its Marvel Films contemporary Captain America: The First Avenger which also ultimately launched the combined universe with Avengers. In the case of Wonder Woman it makes for an interesting palette and less romanticizes the narrative, which becomes much more visceral and real, a far contrast to the character’s brightly colored comic book interpretation. For fans, the favorite interpretation of the heroine during writer/artist George Pérez’s run on the comic, the film pays great homage to his creative contribution.

With the exception of only one little thing, which may turn out to be an important plot note, Wonder Woman is without a doubt (and so far) the best of the DC Comics Films, although the truth is that the bar was set pretty precariously. Wonder Woman had no where to go but to rise above the cacophony of its two predecessors, and although it climatic confrontation with the “big bad” will no doubt inspire similarities to MoS and BvS the greatest difference is how deep and textured the emotional arc of this film is.

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Diana (Gal Gadot) begins to realize that there is more to her newfound powers than even she is aware of in Wonder Woman.

Now about that “one little thing” — it’s a minor detail, but one that I felt would have been integral to the script, especially considering the fate of the film’s hero Steve Trevor, is the final moment that the two characters share. During the ensuing confrontation and climax of the film, they are reunited, and Trevor confides in Diana — professing his true feelings for her — before taking command of the German army’s ultimate weapon. Unfortunately Diana can’t hear everything that Trevor is saying, her ears ringing from Ares’ onslaught.

When it all begins to sink in, I half anticipated Steve to use his long held term of endearment for Diana, but alas there is no “angel” in sight. Like I said, it’s a small thing, but I needed it. It didn’t diminish my excitement over seeing our heroine rise to the occasion and save the day, and when the credits finally rolled I found Wonder Woman was deeply satisfying, exciting and powerful — and a long time coming! She will unite us all, indeed!

See the trailer here:

Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Robin Wright is now showing in theaters everywhere and is distributed by Warner Bros.

Cover-to-Cover • Entertainment Weekly features WONDER WOMAN

After the Amazing Amazon finally makes her big screen debut this summer, many will ask why did it take so long for DC Comics WONDER WOMAN to get the attention she so rightly deserves!

 

It’s incredible to imagine that it’s taken 76 years since her conception for Wonder Woman to make it to the big-screen in a solo adventure of her own, but pretty soon (June 2 as a matter of fact) the Amazon Princess will finally emerge out from under of the shadow of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and step into the spotlight! And it’s about time!

The latest cover of Entertainment Weekly has placed Gal Gadot the modern day embodiment of the DC Comics legend front and center, and the set piece of the issue is a story by Nicole Sperling who spoke with Patty Jenkins the director who inherited the reigns of the blockbuster feature. Jenkins explains her connection to the character and what it has meant to her to bring Wonder Woman’s origin story to theaters.

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The film stars Gadot as Diana the Princess of the Amazons, a tribe of warrior women who live outside of the realm of “Man’s World”, but when one lands on their shores (co-star Chris Pine as Steve Trevor) and brings war to paradise, Diana is compelled to fulfill her destiny to become the most integral part of the DC Comics pantheon and a founding member of the Justice League  — Wonder Woman!

Her journey to the big screen didn’t come without its own set of hurdles, but Wonder Woman is already proving she’s got what it takes with advanced word on the film incredibly favorable. Some critics have gone on the record saying that Wonder Woman will be the “best DC Comics movie so far!” After the lukewarm reception that both BvS and its follow-up Suicide Squad received by fans and critics alike, this is a good sign especially as the cinematic DC Comics Universe launches!

The article takes a close and detailed look at Wonder Woman throughout her 76 year history and how she’s evolved with every generation as an icon and symbol not only for feminism, but for all people!

Read the full article in this week’s Issue of Entertainment Weekly available on stands now and digital download, and Wonder Woman hits theaters this weekend on June 2.

iReview :: ALIEN: COVENANT

Director Ridley Scott takes us back into deep space and proves without a shadow of a doubt that no one can hear you scream with the latest episode of the sci-fi/horror franchise Alien: Covenant.

When film director Ridley Scott first ventured to take audiences to the outer limits of terror with his space monster movie Alien the ticket price was just a little under $3.00 in 1979. Little did he imagine then that some 40 years later his creation would take on a life of its own, but given the advent popularity of the genre thanks to the success of George Lucas’ Star Wars a new franchise was born. Although it would be almost a decade before James Cameron followed up Scott’s masterpiece with his own blockbuster Aliens, the originating filmmaker would take a little longer to revisit the depths of the final frontier and mine the limitless possibilities.

In the summer of 2012, Scott delivered on his promise to revisit the franchise. Prometheus wasn’t exactly the creature feature that audiences were hungrily anticipating. Scott much more deeper and theoretical exploration of the origins of his creature, inspired a desire to examine the origins of man from the very perspective of the primordial soup. The connection between man’s early evolutions and the horror that chases a taunt Sigourney Weaver through the murky depth of an exploratory mining platform, didn’t entirely resonate with movie goers, especially those now tainted by the consumer-piracy of prequels and reboots to satisfy a numb palette.

The story so far…

Although Scott had conceived of his original 1979 film as little more than a B-movie horror flick, a very well made and impressively budgeted B-movie to say the least, it still captured the imagination as much as it appealed to our most primal fears. When the filmmaker returned to the world he was determined if not resolute to create a thoroughly new experience, and with Prometheus Scott fleshed out a narrative component of the mythology that did go beyond filling in blank spaces. Venturing to provide more answers to the purpose of his perfectly predatory Xenomorph a creature designed to ignite a genocide, Scott raised even greater speculation.

At the conclusion of the monolithic Prometheus the expedition ends in tragedy when the exploratory vessel chasing a cryptic message into uncharted space discover a derelict ship, abandoned by a race of super-humans called “Engineers” who appeared to have been on a trajectory to deliver their payload — an annihilating virus — with our very own planet Earth on their list of stops. It’s theorized that these “Engineers” are the progenitors of all humanoid life across the cosmos, spreading their seed on all life sustaining planets and standing back and allow for evolution to take its course, but something’s amiss.

It would seem that these same life-givers have also developed a means to take it away — a genetic mutation; a weapon — that gestates within and consumes everything in its path, and results in a by product life form. Whether the Engineers ever intended for the evolution of the xenomorph or not, is indeterminate — what is known is that the final result is a predator unlike anything that anyone has ever seen! A creature so perfectly attuned for killing, it is practically unstoppable. A horror so insatiably merciless that in it there is an inescapably seductive quality all consuming in its veracious appetite.

That may be the most dangerously flattering way to describe Ridley Scott’s creation which is still the star of the film and is especially a headliner of its latest installment. Alien: Covenant is a return to genre proper after Scott’s more cerebral sojourn in Prometheus, but we couldn’t have gotten here without having first gone there, and as it has proven before — although it’s worth revisiting it’s only a matter of time before everyone is running and screaming through the dimly lit corridors and we’re reminded that in space no one can here you scream.

Just ignore the distress call!

Leave it to intrepid travelers to make the same mistake, but this is now (perhaps) the fifth incident where a distress call or other type of message leads a crew right into the very tight grip of a face-hugger. The human exploratory crew of the colony ship Covenant are on a mission to settle a far-off planet Origea 6 and are transporting about 2000 cryogenically frozen pioneers to the new promised land. Their vessel is temporarily disabled by an intense neutrino blast, and the crew intercept a message from a planet along their flight path.

Deciding it prudent to investigate the flight crew investigate and before long find themselves under attack by a virus and a rogue homicidal synthetic that is genetically engineering the next generation of xenomorph, and he’s just been handed a ship full of test specimens! Terror ensues, people fight for their lives, bodies burst and aliens get into the weirdest places! The formula is the same, as are the archetypes — Katherine Waterston makes for a decent replacement to the original’s “Ripley”, and Michael Fassbender in a unique duo role, begins to fill in the pieces about the fascination behind these deadly aliens.

Director Ridley Scott has revisited the tempo and feel of his first Alien adventure; the set pieces are bigger, the locations are more exotic and the mythology is filling out to elaborately appeal to the nostalgic among us that are turned on by trying to piece together all of the feature films so far. The question now is, will the quest continue? It appears that there exist as many aimless space rangers as we have space invaders, so exactly how long do we have until audiences get the next — and perhaps final arc of a trilogy — that leads directly to the original film is anyone’s guess, or depends completely on how many fall victim to Alien: Covenant this weekend at the box office.

See the trailer here:

Alien: Covenant directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup is now showing in theaters everywhere and is distributed by 20th Century Fox.

The MARVEL Cinematic Universe :: Infinite Possibilities

With the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 proving its box office muscle, the MARVEL Films Cinematic Universe is about to go cosmic with AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR the ultimate crossover film in production!

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have only just begun their global take over of the theatrical box-office with a winning $145 million opening weekend kicking off the Summer Blockbuster season into the upper stratosphere. Marvel Films’ Guardians now stands to be the movie to beat, with heavy-hitting competition hot on its heels including the solo premiere of Wonder Woman from the competitive studio Warner Bros. and the next episode in Ridley Scott’s space adventure Alien: Covenant.

Though Guardians and its cast are basking in the accolades of largely positive reviews, Marvel Films is hard at work already raising the stakes with the next phase of their growing cinematic empire. Entertainment news outlets have starting spreading the good cheer that Avengers: Infinity War is in production! Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo after the two-time director of the franchise Joss Whedon passed the baton, this latest epic will be unlike any previous release from the studio in that it will feature every character in their cannon so far!

Infinity War will be released in two parts with the first hitting theaters on
May 4, 2018 and the storyline will tie-up most of the current wave of Marvel Films loose narratives that have interconnected them leading up a climatic battle with the indomitable might of the villainous Thanos. The classic Marvel Comics villain who is part of an alien race of eternals and has long sought to control life and death itself through the power that courses from the fabled Infinity Stones. The stones have played a centrifugal a part in many of the films to date.

Significantly, one of the last stones is currently embedded in the newest member of the Avengers! The Vision (played by Paul Bentley) assumed protection of one of the stones at the conclusion of the last film Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has recommended that it remain in the synthezoid’s care. But as we have come to learn Thanos is putting together his Infinity gauntlet and once complete, it will make him the most powerful being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — including the urban street fighters of the Netflix realm and the agents on ABC.

Reports from the set currently shooting outside the US, after securing some footage in Atlanta that included among the cast Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Tom Holland (the new Spider-Man), have Hemsworth’s Thor in a scene that is first eluded to in a flashback memory from Age of Ultron that includes a statue of a warrior with a sword in hand suggesting a “falling in battle”. In that scene it is clear that Thor will leading Asgard toward a confrontation with Hel (which has been also eluded to as a plot point in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok) but will there be casualties?

The story is still unfolding and we won’t know for certain until Infinity War comes to theaters, but in one of the most unique cinematic experiences the Marvel Films are lining up for one of its most truly blockbuster moments yet!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from Marvel Films is in theaters now!