The Cutprice Guignol

The Fifth Year: How to Get Away with Meh

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Wee, it’s Friday night! And since this is the kind of evening I’m having:


If you can imagine this picture, but with From Under the Cork Tree blasting along with it while I sing along at the top of my lungs you’ll get the full effect

-I figured it was as good a time as any to write my review of the most wildly goofy Marvel franchise there is, Guardians of the Galaxy!


Now, I didn’t care for the first film – not one bit, actually, if I’m being brutally honest, mainly because of fucking Rocket and the movie’s inability to conceive of the fact that he might not actually be that funny. But, amongst the cavalcade of crap that comic book movies have thrown at us since then, it seems innoffensive by comparison. I mean, it doesn’t star Henry Cavill, for one. So I was approaching this film with a firm sense of “meh” – I wasn’t expecting much, but I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised.


And I was. Well, a little. The film was substantially better than I thought it would be, honestly. The jokes landed, the movie actually gave Rocket a little arc of his own instead of relying on him solely for grimly unfunny wisecracks, and Baby Groot wasn’t solely a blatant grab to sell some cutesy plush toys, which I wasn’t expecting. Not to mention the fact that the film heavily featured my Bae of Baes, Michael Rooker, and he was bloody excellent because he always is and the feelings I have for him are deep and real and pure and nothing anyone can say will change that-


Ahem. Anyway, yeah, Guardians 2 really succeeded on the strength of it’s cast. Rooker aside, Dave Bautista as Drax once again stole the show with his deadpan delivery and little flashes of genuine emotion, while Karen Gillan as Nebula actually got something to do and proved why she should have been used more in the first movie. The action scenes were relatively solid, and the film’s signature use of classic seventies tunes once again served it well. It was funny, sharp, and reasonably well-paced considering that it is well over two fucking hours long, which is more than any comic book movie should be. Fight me on this.


But then…the main plot revolved around Starlord/Peter Quill finally meeting his father, in the form of Kurt Russel’s demi-God Ego (subtle, I know). And, quite honestly, this plot was just the flattest thing; every time the film got going with it’s side characters, it would leap back to this story and grind to a halt once more. It’s just another pointless rehashing of “lead male character has daddy issues”, and I really think we’ve seen quite enough of that in the last few years, don’t you? The completely bloated third act (which included five -count ’em, five- fucking post-credit scenes) revolved around this story and the film really had a hard time keeping itself afloat as it tried to give us a satisfying ending. Almost all of these kinds of movies have some plot holes, or at the most generous, plot points requiring enormous leaps of logic, but all the good stuff Guardians 2 managed to build up in it’s first two very entertaining acts lost a lot of it’s punch in the third.


And then, of course, we come to the movie’s biggest problem: Chris Pratt. I’m not a particular fan of Chris Pratt at the best of times, but his move towards being a big, sweeping action star has just not served him well. He just about got away with it in the first movie as it leaned more heavily on his moderate comedic talents than any of his actual dramatic acting talent, but the daddy-dearest plot here required him to act and it was…man, it was rough. At the film’s climax, a character sacrifices themselves for him, and his reaction was so bad it felt like a joke. There were uncomfortable giggles around the cinema as he awkwardly bellowed “NO!” a lot and his face screwed up like he was trying to take a monumental star-shit, and my viewing companion leaned over to me and whispered “Was he this bad in the first one?”.


And that’s a shame, because this could have been a decent movie. It had humour, little sprinkles of pathos, and a committed cast who seemed intent on bringing the (far more interesting, for what it’s worth) side plots to very agreeable life. But when the main plot not only rehashed stuff we’ve seen done a dozen times before but didn’t even have the good manners to do it well, it’s hard to recommend Guardians of the Galaxy 2 without a hefty does of “yes, but…”. As one of the first comic book movies of the year, Guardians hasn’t made a particularly convincing start, and I can already see a repeat of the dread 2016 Year of Movies in the works.

But hey, Michael Rooker got his top off, so this movie was directly made for me and really I’ve got no right to complain.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Eleven

It’s been one of those days, so I thought I’d make it one of THOSE days as well. Yup, it’s time for another chapter of Fifty Shades Freed. But before we launch into the regular cavalcade of misery, please consider sponsoring my lovely friend/long-time fellow recap sufferer Ellie on a fundraiser she’s doing over the weekend. She’s great, the causes are worthy, and she makes a cracking cocktail and told me that she would personally make every person who sponsors her one on the house. Note: one of these statements is a lie.

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Doctor Who: Tenaciously Average, Relentlessly Dull, Irritatingly Standard

You know, I didn’t think a lot about last week’s season premiere, The Pilot, in the time between that episode and this one. I mean, that probably is a good sign – with episodes I hate, I find myself washing dishes three days later and quietly fuming over some tiny plot-hole that I’ve just realized exists. But I ended up half-forgetting that the show had even come back, with the episode’s inconsequential plot and relative alrightness being neatly filed away in my head, not to be thought of again. Coming into Smile, the second episode of the season, I couldn’t help but hope for something a little more memorable, even if it was more flawed; something I could actually get my teeth into and enjoy reviewing.


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13 Reasons Why and How Not To Tell Stories About Suicide

Enormous trigger warning for suicide. Seriously.


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Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Ten

It’s Tuesday, the football’s on, and I have a large bar of dark chocolate to distract me from the cigarette cravings and the fact that my country just called for another fucking election. Let’s do this thing!


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Doctor Who: Throwaway Aside- Really Delightful Introduction to Sidekick

So, here we are: season ten of Doctor Who has finally hit our screens, and it’s time for me to pick up the solemn blogging mantle once again.


On a side note, I loved everything Pearl Mackie wore this episode, especially this hat.


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A Wanker’s Literary Reaction: The Last Jedi trailer


Ahem. Moving on.

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Things That Will Definitely Happen in Fargo Season Three

After re-watching seasons one and two of Fargo, I have some thoughts on what will go down in season three.


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Trouble Clef Release Announcement!

Hello, everyone, and I hope you’re having a great week so far. Mine is going brilliantly, thanks in no small part to the fact that today is the release date for my new novella, Trouble Clef!


Maya has spent decade putting her time as one quarter of a world-famous girl band, Trouble Clef, behind her, along with the intense romance she shared with her closeted bandmate Kyra. But now, ten years after their last controversial show, Trouble Clef has a chance to pick up where they left off with a reunion tour, and Maya is forced to face the past—and the undeniable feelings she still has for Kyra—once more.

As some of you may know, I write romance and erotica under the pen name Kara Lowndes. Trouble Clef – yes, that title is a straight-up shameless pun and I’ll never apologise for it –  is a contemporary lesbian romance novella, and it’s very gay and pretty funny and I’m very excited for you to read it. It’s available as an ebook and is Kindle compatible, so if you’re looking for something short, sweet, and sexy to get you through till summer, I have just the thing for you…

Trouble Clef is published by Evernight Publishing, and is available through Amazon (UK and USA) as well as the publisher’s website. If you’re looking for something shorter, I released a contemporary lesbian short story (Amazon link) last year that might hit the spot (pun more than intended).