FlixChatter Review: F9 – The Fast Saga (2021)

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When The Fast Saga first opened in June 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, I’m not sure many people predicted it would be a mega franchise spanning 20 years. Well, now the ninth movie once again tops box office, having already grossed $300M overseas ahead of domestic bow, so obviously it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

Having followed the lead character Dom Torreto (Vin Diesel) for two decades, this movie finally gives him his origin story. In numerous flashback scenes, the movie took us to a particularly dark moment in Dom’s life involving his dad Jack and brother Jakob. Naturally, Jack Toretto is a race car driver and the events that happen that day creates a rift between the two young brothers and they go separate ways. I gotta say Vinnie Bennett who played the young Dom is pretty charismatic and can run circles around Vin Diesel in the acting department.

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This franchise always emphasizes that ‘it’s all about family’… I suppose for better and for worse, so it’s to be expected that Jakob will eventually appear in Dom’s life again. At the start of the movie, Dom is enjoying retirement with his toddler son Brian (named after the late Paul Walker‘s character) with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). But of course, soon Dom is pulled back to his old life once again when his former team mates Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) inform him news about his old nemesis Cipher (Charlize Theron, swapping her dreadlocks for a bowl cut). If you saw the previous movie, you’ll likely remember Cipher is a cyberterrorist mastermind who blackmailed Dom in her quest to start nuclear war, even went so far as killing his wife (Elsa Pataky). Well, this time she once again enlists another member of Dom’s family, his long lost brother (John Cena).

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You don’t go to see a Fast & Furious movie for its strong narrative (or even just a sensible one), so it’s best not to dwell too much in the story. In fact, I find that when one approaches bombastic action movies like this one as an action comedy, I tend to enjoy it more and just go along for the ride. The plot is pretty much the same as the previous movies, it involves the villain trying to obtain a powerful device, called Ares (which interestingly is the name of the the God of War in Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot who was once part of the Fast family). The resident computer hacktivist Ramsey explains that Ares can hack into any computer weapons system so obviously it’s extremely dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. I find Emmanuel’s character quite boring generally, but here she at least gets to actually do some driving for once.

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Justin Lin is back in the director’s seat after taking a break with the previous two and he’s got some really out of this world action sequences this time around, literally! I know Tom Cruise has been wanting to set the next Mission Impossible movie in space, well the Fast Saga got him beat! Now, the earth-bound action sequences are equally preposterous and ludicrous, which I guess is what one expects from this movie. I’m pretty sure the writers were all tasked to come up with the most grandiose and outlandish idea that would be absolutely improbable to pull off in real life. Whether it’s jumping off from one mountain to another, battling land mines, or strapping the car to rocket and shoot it in space, NOTHING is off limits! I mean they’re even still trying to DRIVE the car in outer space!! One of the eye-roll inducing plot involves an electromagnet in the wild car/truck chase through Edinburgh, Scotland that set off a reckless, destructive carnage in its wake. The amount of car wreckage is through the roof that in a completely different movie, Dom + team would be considered mindless villains.

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Now, Lin and the writers team seem fully aware of the absurdity of it all and it’s as if this movie is spoofing its own franchise. Gibson’s character Roman constantly asks existential questions about WHY the team has always come out unscathed despite all the ridiculously dangerous missions they’ve been on. Roman is definitely the comic relief and the dynamic between Gibson + Ludacris is always fun to watch. I always find it hysterical that every time someone gets thrown from something, whether a motorbike or truck or whatever, Dom somehow always able to maneuver in such a way that the falling person can land ‘safely’ on his car hood!! That’s become the trademark of the franchise which makes me laugh every time!

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The more serious stuff such as the tension between the two brothers Dom and Jakob are cheesy and predictable as they take themselves way too seriously. The supposedly epic mano-a-mano is kind of ho-hum, I had more fun watching Dame Helen Mirren driving (or pretending to drive) a fast car through London and you can tell she’s gleefully happy to be a part of this brainless franchise and not have to act in a movie. As the ultimate betrayal, Jakob is working with Cipher along with a Danish aristocrat Otto (Thue Ersted Rasmussen), but given the theme is always about ‘family,’ you can see from miles away that the two brothers won’t be enemies for too long.

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I have to say I had a pretty good time watching this and was laughing a lot watching the logic-defying action sequences. There’s also the escapism factor with the various filming locations that got me drooling to travel overseas again. This is easily the most outrageous movie in a franchise already chock-full of insane action scenes. Somehow Lin managed to keep the endless car chases to still be mostly exciting despite the 2h 25min running time, though I wish they’d trim down the repetitive flashback scenes.

Martin Scorsese compares the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise to theme parks, which I don’t think is fair as they still have compelling and cohesive narrative across multiple films. I think the F&F franchise is way more akin to a thrill ride as it’s as if you’re riding a roller coaster for 2+ hours. Speaking of mega-franchises, Star Wars fans might find it amusing (or annoying) to hear the banter between Cipher and Otto, though of course it’s not the only SW reference in this franchise. Its own Han (Sung Kang) also has its own resurrection in this movie, after having been killed in Tokyo Drift. I actually have not seen that movie, as I came to this franchise quite late.

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Now, though I was entertained, I do wish it’d behoove the filmmakers and producers (including Diesel) to actually make an effort with at least a somewhat sensible story with the behemoth budget they’re given. I’m not expecting high art or anything, just a decent plot that offers more than incessant risible action set pieces. Alas, they seem to be satisfied for simply being a dumb, loud action flick running at the speed of bats out of hell. Diesel said they’ve got two more movies left before they hit the brakes on the franchise, let’s see if they’d even try to end on a high note.

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Have you seen F9? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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The first Fast and Furious film came out 18 years ago and no one would have predicted that it would became one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood. Heck, when I saw the third sequel The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the worst in the series, I thought for sure we won’t be seeing anymore Fast and Furious films. Boy was I wrong, the later sequels somehow became more financially successful than the previous ones.

The eighth film in the series begins with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his now wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymooning in Cuba. While there Dom ran into a mysterious woman who turns out to be a super cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Cipher wants Dom to help her steal some super powerful weapons from the US, Russian and German government so she can start World War 3. Of course Dom being Dom, he refused but Cipher is holding someone closes to him hostage and if he won’t do as she says, that person will be killed. That’s pretty much the basic storyline for this entry, Dom has to betray his team/family and throughout the film, there are tons of car chases, explosions, shoot outs and of course good looking people running around in skimpy clothes.

The script by franchise’s regular Chris Morgan is pretty simple, he knows his audience and fans of the series won’t be disappointed. I do have some issues with the script, I won’t spoil it here but he tried to wrap everything up from the last two films that kind of made the previous pictures irrelevant. Apparently, they’re planning to make two more films after this one. Stepping into the director’s chair this time is F. Gary Gray. I’ve enjoyed some of his previous work and it’s obvious he was chosen because he’d worked with most of the actors in this film in the past. With a reported budget of $250mil, Gray staged some pretty crazy action sequences, including a pretty fun big car chase through the streets of NYC. But compare to the previous films, especially the ones directed by Justin Lin, his action sequences lacked energy and kind of boring. A climatic chase that involves a submarine could’ve been a lot of fun but he decided to inter cut it with some silly flashback sequence that explained a “twist” that most viewers could’ve seen miles away. I think he and his editor should’ve done a better job with what I assume was the most expensive sequence to shoot for the film.

As for performances, Diesel is again took his role way too seriously and he even shed tears in one scene! I think he needs to simmer down with his performance in the next one and have a good time. On the other hand, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham knows the kind of film they’re in and having a great time with it. Their bantering gets the most laughs and of course they look good kicking butts. I don’t remember when The Rock’s character Hobbs became superhuman but he’s somehow fights like Superman in this film. Theron is moving to more action related films in this phase of her career and she’s great as the Bondish supervillain. Heck I think the Bond producers should cast her as the main villain in the next Bond film. The rest of cast were fine as usual and they even introduced a new pretty boy to replace Paul Walker. Clint Eastwood’s son Scott is now the new team member and I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the future films. Also returning is Kurt Russell as a super secret government agent who provides Hobbs and his team with everything they need to stop WW3 from happening. Last but certainly not least is Helen Mirren who seemed to have a great time in her small a cameo role.

I have some issues with the script, mostly of the “twist” towards the end but otherwise, I had a fun time with this latest sequel. Fans of the series should be pleased with it since it delivered what they wanted to see. Big car chases, shoot outs and of course explosions. So if you’re planning to see it, go to the biggest screen you can find and hopefully it’s equipped with Dolby Atmos.

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Have you seen The Fate of the Furious? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Furious 7

Furious7 “I don’t have friends, I got family”

That line by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the patriarch of the ‘Fast & Furious’ family, sums up the familial theme that runs through this franchise. I never would’ve thought that when I was still blissfully ignorant of the series prior to Fast & Furious 6. So far I’ve only seen the 1st, 5th and 6th movie before the latest one, and based on what I heard from those who’ve seen them all, this is one of those rare occasion where the sequels actually improve over the earlier movies. Yes, the franchise pride itself in being a big dumb action flick with preposterous car stunts, but the familial theme separates it from other action movies, and that could very well be the secret of its success.

Furious7_HanFuneralThere’s a direct continuation from this movie to Fast & Furious 6, as the comatose villain’s brother, Deckard Shaw, now seeks revenge against Toretto & his family. The beginning of the film shows them attending a funeral of a former family member that’s hinted at the end of the previous film. Even the villain is avenging a member of the family. I thought that the casting is pretty spot on as not only Jason Statham looks believable as Luke Evans‘ older brother, the fact that he’s famous in another car-centric actioner The Transporter makes his casting even more perfect.

Statham is always effortlessly bad ass and invincible in pretty much everything he’s in, and it’s no different here. He apparently could take out an entire hospital AND all those SWAT team all by himself. So he’s special ops or something, which means in his case he’s got superhuman strength who could withstand blow after blow from someone three times his size! The fight scene between him and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is practically hilarious – as is most of the fight scenes in this franchise – because I just don’t sense any kind of real danger to them.

Furious7_TheRockJasonStathamThe vengeance storyline is mixed with a heist plot to obtain a tracking device named God’s Eye and rescuing a hacker named Ramsey. Just like the Mission Impossible movies, the filmmaker just wants to one-up the previous movie in terms of its preposterous action. The sequence of the cars dropped from a plane down to Caucasus Mountains, followed by an equally ridiculous car/bus chase around the twisty mountain road is what you pay money to see this franchise! Seeing that scene on IMAX is really quite a thrill, it’s as close to being in a real amusement park ride given the immersive experience of seeing the stunts in such a huge screen.

Furious7_CarAirdropStuntman Spiro Razatos is really the unsung hero in this franchise as he’s the man responsible for some of the heart-stopping sequences, such as the bank vault scene in Fast Five. This article offer details as to how he pulls off the airdropD scene, it’s really his magnum opus of stunt work! To contrast the cool mountain scenery, the team then heads to the desert of Abu Dhabi. Of course the *mission* has to be something totally absurd. The owner of the flash drive they’re after placed the thing inside a $3.4 mil supercar that I’ve never even heard of: Lykan Hypersport made in Dubai by the first ever Arab supercar company W Motors.

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Yep, that’s the red car that Dom and Brian (Paul Walker) drove through two skyscrapers you’ve seen in the trailer. Trust me, the scene itself is even crazier than in the trailer! Brian Tyler‘s dynamic score perfectly complements the action scenes.

LykanHypersportNow, I’ve mentioned some of the best action sequences, but there are also some pointless fight scenes that overstay its welcome. One of them that come to mind is the fight between UFC champ Ronda Rousey and Michelle Rodriguez, it’s there simply just to fulfill audience’s expectation of a two bad-ass girls knocking each other out. Some of the fight scenes between Walker and Thai martial artist Tony Jaa also gets boring after a while. Pointless characters also drag the movie down, such as Kurt Russell‘s character and Djimon Hounsou’s who’s been typecast as a useless henchman in practically everything he’s in since his fine turn in Gladiator.

I do have to give props to how the filmmaker handle the tribute to Paul Walker, who’s a key cast member of the franchise. I knew before watching this movie that they weren’t going to kill off his character Brian O’Conner, which I think is a wise move on their part. What they end up doing is genuinely moving and heartfelt that it made me tear up watching it. It’s more of a celebration for the late actor than a somber farewell, incorporating the use of CGI as well as the actor’s own brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins.

Furious7_PaulWalkerOverall the movie is entertaining and fun, which is what one would hope for in a movie like this. The emotional scenes help elevate it a bit, but for the most part, you go see this movie for the ridiculous car stunts. But the ethnic diversity has also become part of the ‘brand’ of the franchise. It’s nice to see actors of pretty much every race represented: Black, Asian, Hispanic, White, and there’s even a Bollywood actor making a cameo this time around. Even the director James Wan is of Malaysian Chinese descent. Wan is new to the franchise, after doing mostly horror films like The Conjuring. I think his direction is ok, though I think I prefer Justin Lin‘s direction in the last two movies a bit more. In any case, the diversity pays off for the franchise, as according to THR, 75% of the audience in North America is non-White and it’s earned $384 mil worldwide in its first weekend, wow!

The movie is quite long though, I think cutting some of those unnecessary action scenes out would reduce the overlong 137-min running time. But it’s still mostly enjoyable to me because it’s more of a heist flick than a street-racing movie.

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Have you seen Furious 7? Well, what did YOU think?

Weekend Roundup: Fast Five & Ronin reviews

How’s your weekend everyone? Weather-wise we’ve got a touch of Autumn this weekend with temps in 60s and 70s. It’s just PERFECT in my opinion, I LOVE the cooler Autumn weather. I don’t even mind if temps just stay this way all year long 😀

Well some of you know I saw The Family last week, which was dismal through and through. Of course it had no chance to beat Insidious 2 as most people probably flock to a horror movie given that it was Friday the 13th weekend. So is Patrick Wilson the King of Horror now, what with The Conjuring and now the Insidious franchise? Interesting that I first saw him as the oh-so-lame Raoul who stole Christine from the oh-so-sexy Phantom (Gerry Butler, natch!) in Phantom of the Opera 😉

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Anyhoo, it’s quite a prolific home-theater time as I ended up watching three movies, including a rewatch of one of my all time guilty pleasure The Man in the Iron Mask, which I featured a couple of years ago. I primarily love this movie for the the four actors playing d’Artagnan and the three Musketeers: Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu. Byrne stole my heart as the courageous but conflicted d’Artagnan and he remains my favorite character. I also enjoyed the music by Nick Glennie-Smith, I still hum it from time to time.

Speaking of old favorites, I also watched my favorite John Woo movie and surely one of my favorite 90s action flicks Face/Off. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are both electrifying as each play the hero and villain of the film. Preposterous, yes, absurd beyond comprehension, but heck if it isn’t fun! Both actors clearly are having a blast playing Castor Troy and Sean Archer, and Woo also shot this beautifully, complete with his trademark slo-mo and of course, flying doves! Oh, I even love the music by John Powell, so all in all, a 90s classic!

Here are my mini reviews of the other two:

Fast Five

FastFivePosterWe’re in the mood for some action flick so my hubby and I picked Fast 5. We actually like Fast 6, which was the first of the franchise we actually saw. Ok so the plot is really not that different from the last movie, but really, I don’t think that matters here. Basically it’s an over-the-top heist movie against a Brazilian drug lord, whilst the team is also on the run from the Feds. I was expecting high-octane and ridiculous action sequences and that’s pretty much what I got… and then some!

Now, what I enjoyed most about these two movies so far are  1) the fun car chases that really got your movie adrenaline going, and 2) the unexpected familial bond between the main characters, Dom & Mia Toretto (Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster) and the former-cop-turned-conman Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). The song ‘We Are Family’ could’ve been playing in one of these movies (maybe it did?) as Dom treats the team like family, which I thought was pretty cool. Diesel is actually capable of being sympathetic and he actually has a lot of heart beneath that massive pecks and stony exterior. Just don’t expect any top notch acting in movies like this as you won’t find it anywhere. I love what The Guardian said about Walker, “…an actor with the emotional range of a blown carburetor” Ahah, I couldn’t say it better myself!

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Dwayne Johnson plays federal agent Hobbs who’s hot on the trail of Dom & co. It’s always fun to watch him and he’s certainly in good company with Diesel in terms of acting range, ahah. He’s got charisma to make up for it though 😉

I had a great time with this one, especially the third act involving a scene of two cars dragging a massive vault through the streets of Rio, wrecking everything – cars, patio restaurants, even a bank! – in its path. That’s even more absurdly entertaining than the scene early in the movie where the car Dom & Brian’s riding went off the cliff! Justin Lin sure knows how to stage action sequences and I think that’s the recipe of success for this franchise. Now, since I haven’t seen the franchise from the beginning before Lin took over, but seems that the franchise actually got better and more profitable. Fast 6 actually made over $200 mil, while this one made about $150 mil.

Three and a half stars out of Five
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RONIN

RoninPosterSo I ended up watching two Robert De Niro movies set in France but boy, the caliber couldn’t be more different. His role here almost made me forget the one in The Family, well almost.

Ronin is the Japanese word used for Samurai without a master. In this movie, a team of outcast specialists make up for the Ronins, hired to retrieve a mysterious suitcase wanted by the Irish and the Russians. It’s more of a cerebral thriller that’s not all about action, action, action. In fact, the long opening scene where almost nothing happens in a sleepy town in France is full of suspense! John Frankenheimer did a good job creating tension without always resorting to high-octane action. But of course, when the action scenes happen, especially the pulse-pounding car chases, it was incredible to watch!

So it’s also a weekend chock-full of car chases, but those in Ronin feels different than in the Fast & Furious movies, though they’re just as preposterous and of course, fun! I especially love it when the cars weave in and out of such narrow European streets and corners, it’s just a lot more breathtaking to watch! Per IMDb, more than 300 stunt drivers were employed to give the real-time chases scene an air of metal-crunching realism. Well it certainly worked beautifully. De Niro’s face looks like he’s constipated the whole time he’s driving, but that’s probably more realistic than the unruffled look of Natascha McElhone. It’s perhaps one of the best and most memorable car chase scenes ever filmed to date!

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The third act feels a bit like a buddy action flick as De Niro and Jean Reno worked together quite a bit. It’s fun watching both of them as they had a good chemistry. The supporting cast are excellent too, Stellan Skarsgård and Natascha McElhone are quite memorable here. Oh and for 007 fans out there, you might recognize that three of the actors here have played Bond villains: Sean Bean in GoldenEye, Michael Lonsdale in Moonraker and Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. Pryce is a lame villain here, but slightly better than his take of a Bond villain that’s neither intimidating nor charming. I like the look of the film with its muted colors and the setting itself certainly adds to the edgy mood of the film.


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Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?

Weekend Roundup: Cabin in the Woods + Fast & Furious 6

I ended up venturing out of my comfort zone a couple of times this Memorial Weekend. Thankfully neither one is disappointing. On Friday night, we were debating between three movies, as you can see in my tweet below.

Well, it came down to Cabin in the Woods as I’ve been curious about it for a while and the fact that Joss Whedon’s produced and wrote it sounds like it’s worth seeing. This is not so much of a review, but more of my reaction and overall thoughts of the movies. Here goes:

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)

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Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Now, I don’t watch barely any horror movies, but even so, the storyline seems pretty cliché. But from the trailer and even the poster, I had an inkling that there’s more than meets the eye here and sure enough it was. I think a lot of people have seen this movie by now as it was quite a hit a couple of years ago, but I’m still going to give a warning in case some haven’t seen it.

[SPOILER ALERT – keep reading at your own risk!]

Right from the start, you could pretty much guess just what is this cabin about. You see people in some kind of scientific facility, going into a control room with a bunch of TV monitors and what do you see no them? The cabin of course! Boy, that realization immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and the goblins haven’t even showed up yet!

Trust me, even the scariest cabin you’ve been on, even those that’s supposedly haunted or whatever, is nowhere near as terrifying as this one. And that is because the whole thing has been rigged. Before you know it, one by one starts getting attacked, though at first I was under the impression that this whole thing is some kind of game, like a much sicker and deadly version of SURVIVOR where each had to do something drastic [kill each other] to survive or something.

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Well, I’ll tell you that my reaction to the film kind of fluctuates as it progresses. Sure there are truly scary parts here, albeit some are run-of-the-mill horror stuff where people gather in a spooky basement even if they know they shouldn’t be there, reading and touching stuff they know better not to. But somehow, I kept thinking that the whole thing is human-controlled, which made it somehow less scary to me, and made me ten times more curious just WHO is behind this stuff.

The acting is not much to write home about, apart from the amusing roles of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the two main controllers. I haven’t seen them playing such jerks, ahah, but they’re quite convincing. Mr. Thor Chris Hemsworth is the only one I know from the rest of the cast, but there’s nothing extraordinary about the five college kids.

As far as the plot goes, I have to admit it’s pretty creative. So apparently the whole scenario at the cabin is part of an ancient ritual sacrifice that’s happening all over the world. There are footage shown at other facilities and there’s some kind of competitive nature between the various locations.

Now, here’s one main beef I have with this movie:

Just why in the world is a control room with a big red button that says ‘PURGE SYSTEM’ where two of the characters got into is NOT guarded as well as it should’ve been? I mean, if you’ve seen this movie, you know just how crucial and critical that the BIG RED BUTTON does NOT get pushed, whether by accident or not. It’s akin to a button that launches nuclear warheads being aimed at our own neighborhoods, no? Except that this sounds like a far more terrifying way to die than being nuked!!

If THIS is what's gonna happen w/ one button being pushed, wouldn't there be EXTRA security to guard the darn thing?!
If THIS is what’s gonna happen w/ one button being pushed, wouldn’t there be EXTRA security to guard the darn thing?!

Another thing that sort of bothered me after the movie is how my expectations about the plot doesn’t quite aligned with what actually transpires on screen. The whole time I was watching this, I was under the impression that ALL the monsters had been man-made somehow. That the people in labs all over the world created those creatures as killing instruments, and they have a system to trap unsuspecting victims that’d become the ‘stars’ of their shows, for a lack of a better word. So the main purpose of this whole ‘game’ is motivated by greed or fierce competition (where the facility that produce the most killings the fastest win). So when that Purge System button got pushed releasing the creatures from their confinements, the people lost control of their own monster creations, and they’re running rampant killing everybody as they’re basically built as killing machines. I feel like it’d be far more sinister when humans actually create those monsters that end up being the root of their own demise.  Anybody else feels this way, or am I the only one??

Still, the idea of mixing supernatural things with technology – and the idea that people could actually contain ALL of those goblins and demons and confine them into elevators – is pretty imaginative. I could see why this movie was a hit with the critics (92% on Rotten Tomatoes for a horror flick is impressive!) Director and co-writer Drew Goddard thew plenty of humor thrown in as well to lighten the mood, though it certainly has plenty of blood and gore as well to please horror fans. Again this is NOT my genre, but I do appreciate the unusual storyline and overall it’s pretty entertaining.

Three and a half stars out of Five
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FAST & FURIOUS 6

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Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.

So, another movie that’s not exactly my cup of tea. I’ve got to admit the high rating from critics and audiences alike got me curious about this one. No, I didn’t bother watching the other five movies in this franchise as I don’t think I’d be at a loss in regards to the story, and I was right.

All I had to do was go to the IMDb page for this movie and after about five minutes, I got enough ‘history’ of Dom and his ‘family.’ Interesting that his name is Dom (short for Dominic), is it to suggest he’s like the Don in a racer ‘mafia’ or something?? [shrug] In any case, so basically Dom (Vin Diesel, still clad in his favorite wife-beater) and his BFF Brian (Paul Walker, the pretty blond former LAPD) was involved in a Rio heist the last time around which toppled some kingpin’s empire and thus left their crew with about $100 mil. The crew are now scattered all over the globe since their run-in with the law, unable to return home. But then Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson w/ the perfect moniker The Samoan Thor) shows up in his posh villa in Spain offers him a chance at redemption in return for his help to catch a ruthless criminal Shaw (Luke Evans). Apparently one of the catch Hobbs threw at Dom was a photo of his lost love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who’s supposedly been killed. So the chance of finding Letty again PLUS getting a full pardon for his entire crew turns out to be an offer he can’t refuse.

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As this is the first time I encountered Dom’s crew, I’m most entertained by Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) who’re constantly bickering. They’re the comic relief of sort and I love that they’re not above making fun of their whole group. The women are pretty much the killer eye candy, not quite a femme-fatale but at least not the ‘damsel in distress’ type. There are endless fight scenes between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez, but then again what else is Gina to do, we all know acting nor emoting is not her strong suit. The rest of the guys are pretty much only rehashing what they’ve been doing in the last five movies (except for Dwayne Johnson who’s only joined the franchise in the previous sequel Fast Five). The two main players Diesel and Walker are the least interesting people in the whole bunch. Yes I know the rest of the group aren’t exactly magnetic either, but still, those two are pretty dull indeed.

But hey, you go see this movie not really for the stunts and well, Taiwanese director Justin Lin delivers the goods big time with the most ridiculous car chases from start to finish. Seems as if the filmmakers go out of their way to create some extra outrageous stunts, which is ludicrous even by Michael Bay standards. Case in point: two people from two opposite vehicles jumping across a bridge with cars on the highway going 100 MPH, then somehow manage to catch each other midair and landing on the hood of a running vehicle and come away absolutely unscathed. I mean, come on!! The funny thing is, the very same characters were discussing just a few scenes ago about how they got their scars from doing relatively ‘safer’ stunt than this one they pulled off here!! If you’ve seen the latest official trailer, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to.

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Trust me, this is nowhere near as ludicrous as what’s about to happen next

Luke Evans as the villain Shaw started out quite promising. The Welsh actor is hunky with tons of sex appeal and screen charisma to boot (hence he’s one of my choices to play 007), but I feel like his role is underwritten. He appears cool but lacks menace as there’s not much substance to his character. Plus the ending is rather anti-climactic despite such a bombastic action sequence. Oh, it was fun to see an Indonesian actor Joe Taslim (The Raid) displaying his kick-ass fighting skills as one of Shaw’s minions, though I’m still baffled as to why he was speaking Indonesian at one point in the movie, ahah.

Well overall this movie was worth the price of a matinee showing. It’s still a heck of a lot better than Die Hard 5 and according to my hubby who had to endure the G.I. Joe sequel, it’s a hundred times better than that one, ahah. I’m not about to check out the other five movies prior to this, but you know what, I just might give Fast 7 a shot. Yes, with $310 mil worldwide gross so far, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the end of this franchise any time soon!


3 out of 5 reels

What are your thoughts on these movies? I’m especially curious to hear what you think of my reaction to The Cabin in the Woods Let me know in the comments!

Guest Review: FAST FIVE

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Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back in this fifth installment of the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise. Also, back in the action are the surviving characters from the previous films. The story picked up right after where the last film ended. Dom (Diesel), Brian (Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are now fugitives and on the run. They’ve decided to hide from the authorities in Rio de Janeiro and reunited with an old friend, Vince played by Matt Shulze, he’s from the first movie. They’ve decided to pull a job for a very powerful drug dealer, Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), but it went sour so they’re all on the run from him too. Also, hot on their tales are Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his team of hard-nosed federal agents. After the big news from Mia, Dom and Brian decided that they can’t keep running forever, so they hatched up a plan to steal $100mil from Reyes and to do so they need some help. In come their fellow buddies from the previous films.

Yo, The Rock ready to rrrrrrumble!

The film started out just like the other Fast & Furious films, crazy over the top stunts and lots of speeding sports cars. But after the big action opening sequence, the film slowed down just a bit so all of the team members could get some good screen time. We get to see how they’re planning to steal the money and some personal moments shared by the love interests in the film. To be honest, I didn’t mind these slower moments even though the dialog and acting were pretty average at best. I do wish they’d paid more attention to The Rock’s character but he’s just there to be the second antagonist to Diesel’s character. The big fight scene between the two big men was pretty great; I have to say it’s one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen on a film.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit; it’s a perfect summer flick. Of course don’t expect much more from it, as I mentioned before the dialogs were pretty weak and the acting wasn’t that great either. I think Paul Walker needs to go back to acting school or something because he was bad in this film, good thing he didn’t have much to do but drive and shoot guns. But you don’t go see these kinds of films for acting or dialog. You go see them for the action, and boy, did director Justin Lin delivered.

“If you jump, I jump!”

If there’s an Oscar for stunt coordinators, the guys who staged the action sequences in this film deserved it. There were some great set pieces, particularly the big chase near the end of the film. It was probably one of the most ridiculous over-the-top action sequences I’ve ever seen since the motorcycle chase in Mission: Impossible 2. Diesel and Walker destroyed pretty much half of Rio de Janeiro’s highway and I loved every seconds of it.

I do recommend the film if you’re in the mood for some mindless action extravaganza. But if you’ve never seen any of the Fast & Furious films or if you’re just a pretentious film-goers (you know who you are), I advise you to stay away from it as far as you can. Also, for those who like their films to be more “realistic”, don’t bother because the stunts in the film aren’t what you called “realistic” at all. For everyone else who wants to escape from reality for 2 hours and see some nice sports cars and good looking guys & gals, this film is for you.

3 out of 5 reels

Well, anybody else saw this movie this weekend? What did y’all think?