Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s no secret among my family and friends that I absolutely love the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. In my opinion there is not a bad film among them, they all set a high standard.

WARNING: This review has spoilers for the movie!

For me what sets Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 apart is the emphasis on family and what people really mean to each other. With this comes emotion and feelings – both negative and positive. The movie really does “hit one in the feels”. Aside from that, this is a Guardians movie so you can count on a visual spectacle along with a healthy does of comedy.

One thing they wisely avoided was showing the Guardians crew all getting along fine without any friction. That would have been boring and unlikely – and too early, this is only the second film. However showing them as hostile and unlikeable would be too much at the other end of the extreme.
In the opening act we find them being sarcastic to each other but each character takes a little time out from the battle to show concern for baby Groot. It neatly shows how they all have a heart while still showing badass-ity.

"Hi :)"
“Hi :)”

In the first film we discover that Peter has an unusual heritage and so it is good that we are given a glimpse into Peter’s origin a bit more in Vol 2. Going back to 1980 is also skillful way to weave some well-known music tracks into the story.
Although the progression of Peter finally meeting and getting to know his Dad was interesting, in my opinion it took second fiddle to the other story arcs – those being the redemption of Yondu Udonta and the real source of Rocket’s bad attitude.

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The Rocket arc was good to watch as it involves the two biggest ego’s in the team – those being Peter Quill and Rocket Racoon. Of the two, Rocket is to me the least likable because Peter seems to genuinely want everyone to get along.
It seems something is preventing Rocket from getting too close to anyone. He keeps his a-hole act up almost all the way through until Yondu see’s through it (it is one of the best character scenes by the way).

I’m not going to do a scene-by-scene breakdown in this review but suffice to say the climax is every bit as good as the first movie – but in a different way. In Vol 1 we had an Infinity Stone so the final battle had to be something worthy of such a powerful artifact. In Vol 2 though we have Peter finally realizing how to tap into his celestial heritage to the tune of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Just hearing those first few simple notes of the track, with all the other sound effects dimmed, was enough to give me goosebumps.

OK, so I’m secure enough in my masculinity to admit I cried at several points during the movie.

I mean how could anyone not shed a tear at Peter’s simple eulogy for Yondu? Certainly not Chris Pratt and I’m sure those tears were not CGI.

There is also a touching scene with the Guardians passing baby Groot to each other, nurturing him in a totally un-self-conscious way while Cat Stevens “Father and Son” is playing.

One thing I noticed is a small dialogue change between the theatrical release and the home release. This being Yondu referring to Rocket as “boy”. In the theatrical release, I’m pretty sure he referred to Rocket as “rat”.
I have a feeling that because “rat” is rather cold and rude, by calling Rocket “boy” (in the same way he does to Peter) it kind of reinforces the father-figure-by-stealth role that Yondu occupies during the story.

All the Guardians get their particular moments with perhaps Drax being a little neglected. He is in one of my favourite scenes though – we get an idea of what’s going on inside his mind when Mantis does an empath touch on an externally calm and reflective Drax …she is immediately overcome by a wave of sadness and loss :(

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It was good to see Gamora and her sister reconcile. I felt that little arc was a nice counterpoint to Peter and his father. I really like how Karen Gillan delivers the line “All you wanted was to win, I just wanted a sister!”

I really loved some of the ridiculous moments like Peter asking everyone for tape as a fierce battle rages around them and Drax asking if scotch tape would do (despite not carrying scotch tape himself). Let us also not forget baby Groot bringing back a desk in an innocent attempt to interpret Yondu’s instructions.

When all is said and done, I can’t really fault the film that much but if I try then I probably have two niggles:

* Yondu was perhaps too brutal in his revenge against his Ravager crew. Taking out “Taser-face” I can understand but the whole rest of the mutineers? If you think about it – there is a mass slaughter going on and it is only made light of from being put to Jay and the Americans – “Come A Little Bit Closer”!
I guess the preceding scene where they killed the Yondu loyalists and beat-up baby Groot goes some way to show how they “deserved it” but still… it was pretty cold. On top of that, three-quarters of the ship gets destroyed in the process.

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* I didn’t quite buy-in to the Sovereign being a real threat with their drone space armada. They seem too comical to me. By the way did anyone notice the 80’s videogame sound effects used by the fighter craft pods?

"You suck Zylak."
“You suck Zylak.”

Did anyone else realise it was Michael Rosenbaum as the voice of the “crystal ravager guy” who appears as Sylvester Stallones lieutenant? The character name is Martinex. Rosenbaum played Lex Luthor in the Smallville TV series. I really like that these well-known actors have been added to the MCU pantheon along with Michelle Yeoh and Ving Rhames as Ravager captains. I can just imagine other actors telling their agents something like this: “listen, if Marvel Studios call tell them it’s an automatic YES.”

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Liked the introduction of the Zune as the next logical step from the squished Walkman (although I would have loved to see him given a MiniDisc player – mainly because I still use the format!).
Cracklin tells him everyone on Earth is listening to them these days which is an ironic reference to the Zune actually losing out to the iPod and being discontinued through lack of sales.

Now one thing about the film puzzles me. I didn’t get is the brief exchange between Peter and Rocket near the end during Yondu’s funeral.

Rocket: “He didn’t chase him away.”

Peter: “No.”

Rocket: “Even though he yelled at him. <pause> I was always mean. <pause> And he stole batteries he didn’t need.”

Peter: <looks quizzically for a moment at Rocket> “Well of course not.”

I didn’t quite get it – is Rocket talking about Yondu or himself? Can someone explain it to me in the comments below?

The post-ending scenes were a delightful treat. Especially Cracklin trying out the prototype fin to control the arrow. It also looks like we’ll see Adam Warlock in Vol. 3? Will he turn out to be a “conceited douche-bag” like his creators?

In the final act of the movie, Yondu tells Peter that he uses his heart to control his arrow – I feel James Gunn approached crafting this amazing slice of pop culture in the same way. A supremely worthy film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sublime Text 2 on Debian Linux

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As good as GEdit is, sometimes you want the polish and power of a actively-maintained, fully-functional text editor that excels at both coding duties and regular note taking – especially in Markdown.

For this reason, my choice for the last few years has been Sublime Text 2 – which although is available on a trial license is well worth paying a personal license for.

It’s available for Linux, Windows and OSX/Mac. Here I detail how to install from the tarball on a Debian Linux but the same instructions will work on any Linux flavour.

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Update: I have written a script to automate these steps and you don’t even need root access, take a look here

Step 1 – Get tarball

Grab tarball from website www.sublimetext.com

Step 2 – Extract to /usr/local/src

You may already have your own preference on where you install third-party software on a Linux system (/opt perhaps?), so this is an optional step. However if anything comes as a tarball then I prefer to install them in /usr/local/src

First make it owned by you by changing to root and running this:

chown <username>. /usr/local/src

while we changing directory ownerships, lets do the same to /usr/local/bin (we’ll come back to this in a bit)

chown <username>. /usr/local/bin

Now we are ready to extract the freshly downloaded tarball to the directory

tar -xjvf SublimeText2.tar.bz -C /usr/local/src

Step 3 – Create a launcher

In order to easily launch Sublime Text like any other installed app, we now create a symlink from the Sublime Text 2 program to /usr/local/bin – this will mean that we can launch Sublime Text 2 by simply invoking `sublime_text` on the command line:

cd /usr/local/bin
ln -s /usr/local/src/Sublime\ Text\ 2/sublime_text

Next create a .desktop file for Sublime Text 2 like this:

╰─○ cat ./.local/share/applications/sublime_text.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Name=Sublime Text
Type=Application
Comment=GUI Text Editor
StartupNotify=true
MimeType=text/plain;
Terminal=false
Exec=sublime_text %U
Icon=sublime_text.png
Categories=TextEditor;Utility;
GenericName=Sublime Text

Then set an icon for the launcher, luckily these are already provided in the tarball:

cd /usr/local/src/Sublime Text 2/Icon 
cp 128x128/sublime_text.png ~/.icons

…and thats it! All being well, you can now tap the “overview” key (mapped to Windows logo key) and start typing “sublime” and it will match Sublime Text 2

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…and from here you can drag it into the Favourites bar

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A Weekend at OggCamp August 2017 in Canterbury, United Kingdom

Imagine a technical conference with a twist – all the talks are delivered by the delegates. In other words, the talks are delivered by the normal everyday people who have turned up at the event. Amazing as it seems this idea is not new, this format of conference is known as an “unconference”.

One such unconference is known as “OggCamp” and it occurs every year in the UK. You turn up to face a blank conference schedule and a bunch of post-it notes with a marker pen. To offer a talk is simply a matter of writing it on a post-it and placing it under your preferred slot as below…

The unconference takes shape... ticks signify votes for talks offered on post-it notes.
The unconference takes shape… ticks signify votes for talks offered on post-it notes.

There are a variety of talks “slots” so some pople talked for 20 minutes, some for 45 minutes and there was a special slot for “lightning talks” – no, not talks about the atomoshperic electrical disturbances :) they are… well check the image caption below for an explanation.

Lightning talks are short talks lasting no more than 5 minutes with only one audience question allowed. It's an oppurtunity for some "off-the-wall" topics but the ones here are all pretty standard :)
Lightning talks are short talks lasting no more than 5 minutes with only one audience question allowed. It’s an oppurtunity for some “off-the-wall” topics but the ones here are all pretty standard :)

I went to the most recent OggCamp in Canterbury and this article blogs my experience about it.

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Firstly, I cannot write this article without mentioning the amazing host city of Canterbury – it has such amazing character and some of the streets look like they are out of Harry Potter. There are names like Sun Street, Mercer Lane (a “mercer” is an old English word meaning “trader in textiles”), Butchery Lane and St Radiguns Street.

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There is the famous Canterbury Cathedral of course (which incidentally seems like a sister cathedral to the one in Winchester) but arrayed around it are various Roman-era walls and forts through and under which modern 21st century roads still run! It was a eye-opener driving into the city for the first time. We had really good weather that weekend and I must have done ~5 hours of walking around the city and venue at Canterbury University. Of note is one metal bridge over the river Stour between where I was staying and the city centre – I have coined it the “Bat bridge” because during the evening I was treated to a frenzy of flying bats making the most of a plentiful supply of insects hovering in clouds under the trees!

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Back to OggCamp – the talks mainly feature on what is known as “free culture” – what that means is any creative work that is shared in an open or free manner. One famous example is the Linux operating system but there are a wide ranging as are the talks.

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The stand-out talks to me were one guy who made his own programmable dance floor made up of hundreds of home-brew LED lights with a ping-pong ball acting as a diffuser. Another was a project called matrix.org which seeks to create a two-way bridge between different forms of communication networks (eg. Slack and Telegram). Yet another was on how to keep mentally healthy in a digital world.

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The attendee’s tend to be an interesting lot too – there are  children, semi-retired people, slightly awkward middle-class white male nerds and among them are some friendly, pleasant and really likable dudes (hello Tom if he’s reading this! I watched “Logan’s Run” and “Ex Machina” as you recommended). This to me is one of the reasons to go – to be among decent quality people of a like mind who share some deep interest in this amazing free culture movement. The sharing of ideas and cheerful chats over a beer, lunch or just a coffee while waiting for a talk to start.

My talk went well with it being shown in the main auditorium (photo below) so I had a massive projector screen and premium sound system with which to showcase our work on Project Nemo.

The translation project talk was not all my own work. I have to credit the project leader, “DragonSpike” for his support and time in my preparation for the talk – he not only spent time helping me refine my slides but also put together a special game-play video to showcase the translation work of the International Edition. I salute you sir! Check out the project blog for his thoughts and musings on the project.

Here is my mid-flow talking about Project Nemo. If AC3 were real, I would have Rena, Erich, Fi and Cynthia sitting in the colour-coded seats behind me. Dision would have been invited but the military prison would not have given him a day release :/
Here is me mid-flow talking about Project Nemo. If AC3 were real, I would have Rena, Erich, Fi and Cynthia sitting in the colour-coded seats behind me. Dision would have been invited but the military prison would not have given him a day release pass :/

One observation about OggCamp is that I was encouraged to see female attendees and some non-white folks too – I feel this is important to promote these kinds of events and culture as “open to all” and hopefully to discourage a homogeneous population.

Canterbury University campus grounds - this looks like the kind of place they would film an episode of Star Trek: The Next  Generation
Canterbury University campus grounds – this looks like the kind of place they would film an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation

The venue was excellent – it was Canterbury University. All the three talk rooms were close to each other and accomodated everyone who wanted to attend. Each had good working audio-video and there was always a crew member on hand in every talk. Very well-run and professional indeed.

I also discovered that the canteen was opened just for the event and we benefited from a hot meal both days – yumza!

In terms of people numbers, I think I detected a smaller number of folks compared to the last one I went to in Oxford. I would estimate 150 people. I think the location was a factor and the fact that some of the bigger names in the podcast/Opensource scene (eg. Linux Outlaws, LUGRadio) were not in attendance.

So a big, big thanks to John “The Nice Guy” Spriggs, Mark Johnson and the rest of the crew at OggCamp for such an amazing event. <austrian accent>”I’ll be back.”</austrian accent>

All in all a very enjoyable weekend and I want to thank my AirBnB host Paul for making a comfortable stay for me. Check out his property if you’re ever staying in Canterbury.