Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fate of the Furious Review

You'd think the death of lead cast member Paul Walker and the touching sendoff his character was given in Furious 7 would've stopped the Fast and Furious franchise cold, but that one made all the money and Vin Diesel always imagined a trilogy of 7,8,9, so here we are with The Fate of the Furious.

It's pretty impressive for any franchise to get to their 8th movie like this, but considering how hard it is to make one great movie much less eight, it hasn't always been a smooth ride (no pun intended.) The first one is essentially a great remake of Point Break, only with drag racing instead of surfing. The second and third ones are universally panned for their lack of Vin Diesel (and also for being terrible in general.) Diesel and Walker got back together for the fourth one that, despite some pretty awful CGI, more or less put the series back on track. Fast Five is the stand out of course, since it's an incredibly fun heist movie that brought in the additional star power of The Rock as a cherry on top.

During that time they were always ratcheting up the crazy car stunts, and by six they were really starting to push the boundaries of suspension of disbelief, having turned these street racers into essentially the team from Mission: Impossible. Still they closed that one on one of the most epic teasers ever by introducing the transporter himself, Jason Statham, into the mix and thereby making another one inevitable. With the loss of Paul Walker during filming, it didn't look like we'd actually get the 7th one, but they managed to cobble together a reasonably fun experience whose sins are largely forgiven thanks to that aforementioned touching sendoff.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Fast 8. I think the 7th one had a perfectly fitting finale for this fast family, and when you have to dip into the "main character turns against the team/family" cliché, usually it means you don't have any more stories worth telling. Plus, 7 had already teetered on the edge of what my suspension of disbelief was willing to take with all its computer magic and Avengers-like super heroics. Then again, the trailers for this one had them fighting a nuclear submarine with cars though...and you gotta admit that sounds pretty awesome in theory.

Unfortunately, I can't say it worked out as well in reality. Let's talk about how Fast 8 is not going to be one of my favorites from this franchise:




Monday, April 3, 2017

Power Rangers (2017) Review

I suppose it was only a matter of time that the Power Rangers got their gritty live-action reboot given all the properties from my childhood that have now been gobbled up by Hollywood and turned into generic explosion fests so the studios can cash in on the licenses while they still mean something to someone.  Usually it's Generic Action Plot #5: rebellious teenager with daddy issues learns he has a great destiny and must save the world with his awesome inherent expertise in everything. 

And of course they can't give these things subtitles since that might keep people from confusing this new thing with the thing they actually like.  Far be it for them to make it easy for us to distinguish between the franchise Power Rangers, and the new movie Power Rangers open-parenthesis, 2017, close-parenthesis.

It's also not the first time somebody tried to do a Power Rangers movie, and that first one doesn't exactly hold up.  So the odds against this thing being even remotely enjoyable were pretty slim, especially since the trailers appeared to be taking things way more seriously than this concept generally allows.

But, lo and behold, this wasn't all bad and dare I say it, kinda fun at times. How did that happen? Well, I'll tell you:




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (Live Action) Review

It seems the real magic of Disney is their ability to separate people from their money.  This time, rather than crack that Disney vault so every soccer mom in the country rushes to grab a Bluray of Beauty and the Beast, they got mom, dad, and their 2.5 kids out to the theater this weekend by remaking the movie entirely.

Of course it isn't the first time they've done this.  Last year the Mouse raked in an obscene amount of green with The Jungle Book in addition to the pallets of money they already get from having brought Marvel and Star Wars inside the castle.  They've also done Pete's Dragon, Cinderella, and a pseudo-Sleeping Beauty with Maleficent, and pretty much everything in the rest of the animated library is slated for its own live-action remake in the next few years, all of which are certain to go forward given this had record-breaking hauls this weekend.

Now I'm no fan of musicals so normally this isn't the kind of thing I'd go to see no matter how many people threw their money at the box office and raved about it afterwards, but I did grow up with the Disney animated movies so I hoped maybe this version of Beauty and the Beast had just enough of a nostalgia factor to get me over that hump.  After all they claimed they were trying to be extraordinarily faithful to a movie that I liked as a kid, even if it weren't my favorite, so that seems like a win-win, right?

Well, it turns out that some things simply can't be overcome by nostalgia alone. Let me explain:




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kong: Skull Island Review

As something of a giant monster myself, it was a foregone conclusion I'd get out to see Kong: Skull Island opening weekend.  Unfortunately, the last time my hairy friend got to appear on the big screen, he was murdering innocent dinosaurs just because some cute blonde showed him she could juggle.  Given what Hollywood has done to Godzilla in the past, I can't really blame the guy for that, so I had high hopes he'd find some redemption in this one.

From the trailers, it certainly appears they learned something from the painful slog that was Peter Jackson's King Kong, since it looks like my man gets to throw down early and often with everything from pesky humans to Godzilla-wannabes, with nary a dinosaur in sight.  Speaking of Gojira, that's actually the polar opposite of the last Godzilla movie, which I enjoyed thoroughly but was received poorly by a lot of people for not having enough Bryan Cranston or kaiju on kaiju action. 

So does this second entry in the giant monster movie universe Warner Bros. is putting together finally strike the right balance between characters and epic monster fights? Ehh, not so much.  Check out my review for more:




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Logan Review

When I first heard about Logan, needless to say I was skeptical.  Fox's history with superhero movies is not exactly stellar, and while some of the X-men films are at least watchable, they're still largely terrible movies, never mind good adaptations of the source material.  The fact that their second attempt at Deadpool openly mocks their first version is proof enough on that score, and Fox had to be dragged kicking and screaming into making the new one.

However, we can all agree that Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine was the shining light of the X-men movie universe, even if his previous two solo outings kind of sucked too.  Everyone likes him so much they even shoved him into X-men Apocalypse's CGI-fest to try and put something in that movie worth watching.  (Fun fact: X-men: Apocalypse was my first review on Youtube, and boy did I have plenty to be cranky about.)

After that stinker tanked, we heard Logan was going to step through the R-rated door opened by Deadpool. "This one is gonna be good," they said, "This one it's going to have all the bloody carnage that a guy with knives between his knuckles should cause.  It's even set in the future where he's old!"

So, did we end up with another Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice-style attempt to cash in on a trend? No, we got something damn near Oscar-worthy.  Let me tell you about it: 




Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Great Wall Review

Other than the obvious Trump jokes, just about the only thing that put The Great Wall on anyone's radar is the controversy over Matt Damon playing the lead. As usual, many people were up in arms that a white guy got a role in an Asian-centric movie.  Never mind that he's playing a white character that wanders into Asia looking for black powder and runs into a giant wall and the massive Chinese army staffing it, so it's not exactly like he stole a role from an Asian actor.

Of course had the complainers bothered to note it's a Chinese studio making the movie, they wouldn't have had much reason to whine in the first place since it's the Asians making the call, and doing so for the specific purpose of getting their first big breakout film in the US.  What better way to do that than cast a superstar like Damon and split the movie's time between him and its Asian characters?

There are however still plenty of good reasons to trash The Great Wall, and surprisingly none of them involve those goddamn Mongorians from South Park. Let me tell you about some of them:



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

Like John Wick, The LEGO Movie was also an incredibly pleasant surprise.  It looked like it was going to be some shameless attempt to sell toys (it was), but it turned out to be an incredibly funny and well-written film that did incredible justice to the little plastic blocks.  Anybody who grew up playing with LEGOs got to delight in seeing all the interesting ways they used familiar pieces to build things in this world.  And it gave us a brand new Batman.

LEGO Batman was so well received that they decided to give him his own full feature, which as with John Wick: Chapter 2, made me pretty nervous.  In small doses this semi-parody of Batman is really funny, but I worried that trying to drag that out into a full couple hour movie would just get old and repetitive. Still the trailers looked promising, so did The LEGO Batman Movie deliver?  Let me tell you all the ways everything was in fact, awesome.