The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) Review

So I recently watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I thought it was mostly good. James Gunn is back to deliver this first look at what the guardians have been up to since we last saw them in Avengers Endgame. I know they were in Thor Love and Thunder but that was more of a cameo and we didn’t get much of them in it. This special was written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Batista as Drax, Pom Klementeiff as Mantis, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and Kevin Bacon as Kevin Bacon. The Guardians, who are on a mission to make Christmas unforgettable for Quill, head to Earth in search of the perfect present (longline from letterboxed). This was a fun special that puts more focus on the relationship between Mantis and Drax and gives Mantis a bigger role in Quill’s life. Most of the special is a fish out of water comedy focusing on Drax and Mantis on Earth. Even though it is a fun part of the special, its also one of the weaker parts for me. I found myself pausing often and doing other stuff during this part. I do like how the whole reason for this special is a classic Christmas special trope of trying to give someone a good Christmas and remember what that is like…..even when they never forgot. This special really gives a lot for Mantis as a character as we get to see her do a lot more than we’ve seen her do in the movies. She gets to be funny as always, but we get to see her be angry and drunk and silly and do things action wise that we’ve never seen her do. Pom does a great job and you can tell she has a great time on this. In terms of performance the other best one is probably Kevin Bacon, you can see he probably had a great time doing this. Everyone else is good and serves their roles well, they’re just not in it much. I didn’t mention Drax earlier because I feel like there’s nothing all that new with his character and performance from what we’ve seen before. Having said that, I did enjoy how much he loves the inflatable Elf. Everything else with this special was good in terms of technically, like the music was good and I enjoy the songs made for this special, the little action is good, the effects are good, the sets look great. This is where we’ll get into my issues with this special. The first issue I have is that the fish out of water portion didn’t work great for me, as I said I found myself pausing and going elsewhere instead of watching it. The second issue I have is that it’s too short. They want to do a lot with this, but they don’t have the time to do it. It really feels like they had some time while filming the third movie that they decided to make a holiday special with it. It feels like it was shot in probably a couple weeks around shooting the third movie. For me this is a detriment to the special because its pretty noticeable, and because of that its not as satisfying as it probably should be for me. A good example of this for me is in the last half of the special, I don’t want to spoil it but I feel like the turn around wasn’t given enough time. One conversation is all it takes to go from being kidnapped to being friends and performing a song about Christmas. 

Over-all this was a fun special, not great but over-all a good watch. I give it One Thumb up, it’s an ok watch for this time of year. 

Violent Night (2022) Review

Poster: Violent Night by Bryan Johnson

So I recently saw Violent Night, and it was a fun movie. It works as a christmas movie and uses a lot of christmas movie tropes while also being a violent action movie about Santa rescuing a family from issues of its own creation. Violent Night was directed by Tommy Wirkola and stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, John Leguizamo as Scrooge, Alan Hassell as Jason Lightstone, Alexis Louder as Linda, Cam Gigandet as Morgan Steel, Editor Patterson as Alva Lightstone, Never D’Angelo as Gertrude Lightstone, Leah Brady as Trudy Lightstone, and Alexander Elliot as Bert. When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no saint (synopsis from letterboxed). This is a movie that directly engages on its premise, and it delivers on it too. Its part gory action movie, part comedy, and part classic christmas movie. It uses a lot of classic christmas movie elements and formulas but also makes them kind of new since they’re being used in a gory action movie about Santa killing mercenaries. This is going to be a bit of stretch, but this movie kind of uses the now well known Hallmark romance formula in a way. Santa is a busy workaholic guy that has lost his christmas spirit. He comes across a family being held hostage and has to stay and help solve the situation. During this he is in contact with Trudy through a walkie talkie radio. This situation and Trudy’s belief in him bring back his christmas spirit and save the day. For this movie it works, and it works well for me. I enjoy how it gives Santa and the main family members an arc to go on through this movie. David Harbour is amazing as Santa and is the stand-out character of this movie. He’s badass but still has that wholesome energy in the character, even during the parts where he’s less than that. I do enjoy what they did with his backstory throughout the film, it does help explain why he’s such a badass and why he has a proclivity for a certain type of weapon. Everyone else in the movie did a great job, and you can see that everyone had a good time making this movie.

Most of the comedy in the movie works for me, but some of it is pretty cringy. Though I found that it was supposed to be cringy, as it was mostly tied to the more comic relief characters we’re not supposed to like. Probably the most effective comedy for me is the stuff related to people not believing in Santa when the actual Santa is in front of them, and the full on home alone scene. If you’ve ever wondered what Rated R home alone traps would be like, this is where you can find out. The action is pretty good throughout the movie. It makes good use of the setting with Santa using whatever he can find as a weapon, with decorations becoming deadly. They also got really creative with the hammer action in the movie. A stand-out action scene for me is when Santa is in the shed while a bunch of armed goons surround it and he finds a sledgehammer. It’s awesome and brutal and creative in what Santa is able to do in it. The action is all well-shot and well edited. No real shaky cam or fast editing. You can tell they put in the work to make it look as good as they can get it. The music is fittingly overtly christmas music and works for the tone of the movie. 

Over-all this is a fun movie and a good addition to your holiday action movie watch throughs. Some may see it as Die Hard in a mansion staring Santa as john Mclane, but I can safely say its if Die Hard was a full on outward christmas movie. Its a fun watch that’s worth seeing, Two-Thumbs Up !