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[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A- (more…)

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Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

bvsdoj_tgofThere are those of us who willingly choose to avoid the paper representations of the immensely popular superhero films. In doing so, while unable to provide a glimpse into how faithful the adaptations are, can still provide a unique and still truthful outlook to the success of the filmmakers to present a story that is worthwhile and thrilling. Sadly, it’s filmmakers like Zack Snyder who make us realize how good we had it with Christopher Nolan and his uneven take on the cowled vigilante in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan, provided a grim perspective on the Batman universe and Snyder too uses the grim approach, it also is more often than not…soulless.

For better or worse I approach each superhero flick hoping to experience a well told story. With any luck it’ll come together cohesively even without having read the comics. One should not have to have that knowledge to enjoy the film counterparts because it is the job of the filmmaker to present the story in a way that makes sense in its own right. Snyder has not done his due diligence in this regard- at least from this viewer’s perspective. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly sets the table for DC’s own Avengers type formula, but does so in messy fashion. Consider Synder’s vision the Island of Misfit toys so to speak, which goes a long way in describing the film as a whole. It’s like a child playing with his toys and like a child they’re no sense or meaning to anything that happens, just the bashing together of plastic soulless figures because it’s fun. Plus this particular child has a $250 million budget so those plastic toys look a lot cooler.  (more…)

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

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For what it’s worth, I have to offer an apology to a franchise I could have done without few years ago. So much so that I completely skipped over TOKOYO DRIFT and have yet to catch up with it. The last confession might be a little more troubling to die hard fans with the sixth installment and where the film leaves us with its “shortly after the credits start” sequence. Still though the second film I found borderline unbearable and FAST & FURIOUS (the fourth installment) I barely even remember. The fact of the matter is that for me, the “story” these films are trying to tell are 100% inconsequential and really only lend to give the audience something to root for in the spectacular action sequences- at least when it comes to the last two films specifically.

The FAST & FURIOUS franchise has become the poster child for ridiculous action set ups and melodramatic characters in addition to be a black hole of logic. FAST & FURIOUS 6 (FURIOUS 6 according to the title card) picks up as Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is tracking down an international terrorist, Shaw (Luke Evans aka poor man’s Joseph Gordon Levitt) and his crew before they can boost an essential military component that could potentially be a global threat. Obviously Hobbs only option to stop the threat is a group of criminals he vowed to hunt down and bring to justice- and hire them he does. Toretto (Vin Diesel) has a bit more incentive than the impending pardons to complete the job, as he’s made aware that his former flame, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), happens to be working for the highly skilled international terrorists/thieves and he intends get her back- cue vehicular warfare.

I realize my rundown of the plot might sound a bit disingenuous especially if I were to tell you that I really like this movie. Honestly, if not for all the incredible action sequences I would be reporting the exact opposite- then again if you strip any action movie of its action then what the hell am I even talking about? The fact if the matter is that with FAST FIVE and FAST & FURIOUS 6 Justin Lin has embraced a winning formula for a franchise that should have been snuffed out long ago.

The script at least in terms of dialogue is more or less terrible- there are some decent jokes here and there and some semi clever moments unrelated to action, but let’s just generalize conservatively and say that the script is passively mediocre. With the exception of Sung Kang as Han, I don’t really care about any of these people in these movies and Han is underused at best. The star of these movies is the action and the action alone- granted having a parade of hot chicks and buff dudes isn’t bad from a marketing perspective.

The talking heads deliver their lines serviceably enough to set up each action sequence and from there Lin really gets to show off. The action itself is ludacris, but it just looks so damn cool- and at the base level are just exciting to watch. The key here is to just know what you’re getting into and if you’ve jumped ship before heading to see this, but still bought a ticket and didn’t like it then I’m sorry, but you got what you deserve. I can’t buy into anyone who willingly walks into this and expects a movie like FAST & FURIOUS 6 to make sense- the previous film alone sets these characters up as straight up superheroes now and this film takes that idea to a whole new level. I mean come on, one character’s phone literally refers to Hobbs as ‘Samoan Thor’ when he is calling on a cell phone- I don’t think you need any additional proof that these characters are essentially a bizzaro version of The Avengers.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 has an abundance of incredible action sequences that are as preposterous as they are epic. The climactic plane takedown depicted in the trailer is worth the price of admission and is also the prime example of the ridiculous nature of the action. The characters continue to deliver their soap opera-esque garbage on screen with the exception of Johnson who I have to admit has been a highlight for me in the last two flicks- Kang also is a highlight, but isn’t utilized as often as Johnson’s hulk-like body mass. FAST & FURIOUS 6 is the type of film that you show up to for the action, stay for the action while the rest is essentially tasteless empty calories chewing up screen time. Justin Lin’s film is the type of brainless popcorn action I can get behind because it knows how ridiculous it is and revels in it- the icing on the cake, is that it looks fantastic while doing so.

Rating: B+