Fast & Furious 6

fast_and_furious_6-wideSwanner: Just when you thought they had retired the franchise once and for all…here comes Fast and Furious 6. When you look at the figures, number 5 made $626 million dollars worldwide with $209 coming from the US alone. That means there will be another one, and another one, and another one. This time around Federal Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) needs Toretto’s crew to help him catch a criminal in Europe. He promises them all full pardons for their help.

Judd: I don’t like the Fast and Furious movies, so I should just give it one and half stars now and let you do the rest of the review. These movies are for wannabe gearheads. For the guys and gals driving a slammed 1989 Civic with thousands of dollars’ worth of plastic bodywork plus a spoiler and coffee can muffler with no actual money spent on real performance. For the people who think quick shots of a foot stomping a clutch and a hand rowing a gear must mean the driver is a “pro”. For god’s sake, Toretto refers to Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez), she’s back by the way, British Jensen Interceptor as an American V8! BULLSHIT!

Swanner: I pretty much have no idea what you just said so I’ll move on. Yes, Michelle Rodriguez is back from the dead or at least a presumed dead in number four. It’s a good thing because she brings the same sexuality that Vin Diesel does, it’s raw and smoldering unlike Paul Walker who should just look pretty. The biggest problem with the film is the dialog…they gave them way too much to say. The leads aren’t really actors in the grand scheme of things. They are movie stars. That’s why Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson really stand out. They are funny and can actually deliver a line correctly. Dwayne Johnson also does a decent job but this is pretty standard for him.

Judd: OK, OK so the Jensen is powered by a Chrysler 440, so I guess technically it IS an American V8. I still say its bullshit. The other problem I have with these movies is that the car chases are so fake, they’re boring. I know there’s the whole “suspension of disbelief” but the F&F movies take it too far. The last scene the team is driving a group of Chargers to take down a Russian military plane, and based on speed and duration of the scene, the runway must have been at least 10 miles long. It’s ridiculous.

Swanner: Of course it’s ridiculous but that’s how action movies are these days. The last 30 minutes of the movie was crazy with the scenes on the freeway and then to the world’s longest landing strip. The stunts were great. Once again I remind you it’s a popcorn movie. That’s why they should have talked less and drove more. Hopefully in Fast and Furious 7 they do just that. It comes out July 11th 2014 so get your tickets now.

Judd: Popcorn movie. Bah. It’s a snooze fest. The only thing that kept me awake was the sound of explosions and the gut-rumbling dubstep soundtrack. Yes readers, this old man knows all about “wub” even though it splits my head. Physics defying stunts, wooden acting and a paper-thin plot make Fast and Furious 6 a definite skip. Personally, I’m looking forward to Fast and the Furious 25, when Dom and Brian are tasked with robbing Palm Springs pharmacies for Viagra and Lipitor in their oversized Toyota Avalons blasting some Lawrence Welk, and the riskiest stunt they execute merging into freeway traffic.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1 ½ Stars

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Hangover III

Swanner: Rule number one in making a comedy is that it needs to be funny. This is where The Hangover III fails firstly. No matter how desperate our heroes messed up in the earlier films, they were still funny and we knew it was a comedy. Last night’s screening of the film was surprisingly dramatic…granted, it had its moments but they were all in the previews. The giraffe, the singing, the one liners, the cameo by Melissa McCarthy all funny, all in the previews. What was left was an overly dramatic film underutilizing Ed Helm and Bradley Cooper allowing Zack Galifianakis to grandstand.

Judd: Deviating completely from the “what happened last night?” formula, The Wolf Pack is tasked to find Mr. Chow by gangster Marshall (John Goodman) who’s name is briefly dropped by Black Doug in the first movie. The problem here is that the bad guys are too… bad. Chow is turned from a sexually ambiguous trouble maker into a flat out murderer, and Marshall kills one of his own just to make a point. For the first time, The Wolf Pack is in real danger and a stupid mistake is going to cost someone more than a tooth. Very funny?

Swanner: The first two films they were bumblers. We knew nothing was going to happen to these guys. They would get in trouble and just squeak by in the end. That keeps the danger fun and not frightening. I mentioned that they underutilized Ed Helm who I thought was the heart of the Wolf Pack. In the first two films he lost a tooth, he got the facial tattoo…he was deflowered. He made me laugh. The powers that be don’t seem to understand their characters. They only know that Galifianakis is popular so let him be funny. His humor is not Hangover funny…sometimes it’s not even funny funny. The epilog at the end hopefully means we’re done with this story.

Judd: I think it’s safe to say this is the final one. This installment they bring back Heather Graham and the baby for a final emotional goodbye moment which added nothing to the plot. The whole thing felt like a half-assed send off. Give the fans what they want one last time, but put no effort into it. It was nice that they tried to change the formula and give us something different, but as you said, it’s like they forgot who their characters are. They could have been any three random men.

Swanner: I’m not as confident as you are about this being the final one. Hangover 2 made almost $600 million dollars worldwide and it sucked. That kind of money will make people do just about anything. To our readers I say if you really want to see this in the theatres do…but at your own risk otherwise I’d wait for rental.

Judd: If there are any more Hangover movies, they’re going to be direct-to-video and Ken Jeong will be the only original character to appear.

Swanner: 1 Star
Judd: 1 Star

Star Trek Into Darkness

Swanner: This week the long awaited sequel to JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot opened in theatres across the globe. Abrams got the whole cast back (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg) plus some newbies (Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve) so the continuity would be there. He also lined up some heavy hitters for the screenplay (Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof), your basic who’s who of sci-fi screenwriters. The script is pack with all sorts of fun things for the fans out there making references to characters we know that haven’t been introduced, old phases and in jokes for those of us in the know. Just because there are some insider jokes doesn’t mean the film is lost to the novices out there. It’s still a stand alone film. Actually the film is so well molded…that might be the only thing wrong with it. There were really no surprises…maybe that’s not a bad thing but it was noticeable.

After Kirk has pulled some of his regular shenanigans Star Fleet has removed him as Captain and is now first officer for Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood). While all this is happening a terrorist is coming after Star Fleet. Kirk springs into action and before you can say “I’m a Doctor not a brick layer” Kirk is back in command and our story goes in to warp speed. As a kid i watched the original series which these films are based so i do have a emotional connection here. Karl Urban who plays Bones not only sounds like Deforest Kelley (the original Bones) but his uncanny likeness is scary, Simon Pegg’s “Scottie” and Zachary Quinto’s “Spock” are also spot on. All of my inner Trekkiness is a tingle with this film

I know Star Trek isn’t for everyone. Folks who have avoided being perceived as Trekkers have really missed out on the quality storytelling and amazing characters they have created. The Star Trek universe has always made strives to change the way people look at the world. They had the first interracial kiss on TV (in the 60’s) they taught liberal values to many generations and were all better off because of it. I like what Abrams and crew have done. It’s true to Roddenberry’s vision and i think he’d really like these new movies.

Swanner: 4 Stars

Gatsby

Swanner: Both Brian and I had hesitations about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. It has a musical score that is a mix of current music and songs from the 1920’s; it’s based on the boring book by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and, it was filmed in 3D. My expectations were higher than Brian’s, and overall I was disappointed, Brian liked it more than he thought he would. The story follows Nick Carraway (Tobey McGuire) and his time with Millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) during the early 1920’s Long Island.

Judd: I liked it more than I thought I would only because I was expected a complete and utter train wreck, underscored by the worst of today’s popular artists. The fact that the music was not as distracting as I anticipated, and the pacing wasn’t as sluggish as I thought it was going to be for a two hour and twenty minute movie based on a book that features a lot of parties and very little momentum – those facts do not mean I enjoyed the movie, it just means that I hated it less than I thought I would. However, I very much enjoyed the look of the movie; the costumes and direction were very grand and helped with the slow plot. It kept the eye busy when there was nothing else going on.

Swanner: I was so bored I couldn’t believe it. It was even more boring than the ‘74 version with Robert Redford and the hideous Mia Farrow, which I didn’t believe was possible. It did move well because Luhrmann directs like everything is a music video. Fast edits with lovely sets and costumes kept my eyes happy, but the script is so vacant on story my brain was hungry for substance. The 2:20 running time is ridiculous and the 3D is almost insulting because it adds nothing to the film and it’s only needed to garner every dollar they can from unsuspecting moviegoers

Judd: I think the reason the movies don’t work is because the book is a narrative told by Nick about the two characters, Daisy and Jay, that drive the plot. Automatically, we’re given an outsider’s perspective who can only describe the feelings and drives of our protagonist. While the book handles this very well, who wants to watch a movie about someone observing someone else – unless it’s Rear Widow. The situation is made worse by the fact that Gatsby’s object of affection is an uncharismatic blah. Daisy is a lump. She’s a dullard in the book and the movie. She should have been played by Kristen Stewart.

Swanner: I just don’t think there is enough story here. It’s hard to feel sorry for these rich people and the bottom feeders who want to be them. Who cares? If you have nothing to work with …make it 30 minutes longer than it needs to be. That’s the real screw you here. It’s starting to feel a lot like Baz Luhrmann wants to be Terrence Malick, creating art with no substance.

Judd: Art? I would not call Luhrmann’s Gatsby “Art”. It’s as gaudy and tactless as the very parties that Gatsby hosted to lure Daisy to the house. Would I think that this was Luhrmann’s vision, “art” may be an appropriate word; however I think Luhrmann was creating a spectacle for spectacle’s sake. To paraphrase Margo Channing, Luhrmann thought he was giving us music and fireworks, when he all he delivered was an old kazoo and some sparklers.

Swanner: 1 Star
Judd: 1 Star

Ironman 3

ironSwanner: Summer officially is kicked off this week with Iron Man 3. It brings the whole cast back together including Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau. This time around there have been terrorist attacks around the world all linked to The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Stark publicly threatens The Mandarin and everything goes to hell. Shane Black is the director this time around (Favreau directed 1 & 2) as well as screenplay duties with Drew Pearce, who is no relation to Guy Pearce who also appears in the film.

Judd: Number three picks up after last year’s The Avengers and how Tony is dealing with meeting other super heroes and fighting aliens. As he says up until then he was “just a man in a can.” What I really like about this one is that the movie is more about Tony; it’s almost a character study rather than a super hero movie. With the newest Iron Man suit (Mk 42), the suit can be controlled remotely, which not only physically separates Tony from Iron Man it’s a symbolic separation as well, and it works marvelously. Get it? MARVEL-ously.

Swanner: You are the jokester today. I liked this so much better than number two. The bad guys are bad and also very unique. Tony’s so much more interesting than your standard super hero. I like that with everything he has, the only thing he protects is Pepper. That’s real superhero angst, and I liked it a lot. I also thought Ben Kingsley was great. He’s so good it makes you forget how bad he’s been (see Sound of Thunder). It was also really nice see Gwyneth getting something to do other then look pretty. She gets her hands dirty and it really adds to the character and the film.

Judd: Ben Kingsley was also in my favorite movie of all time, Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne, so Iron Man is really a step back for him. Kingley’s Mandarin character is a ton of fun and sets the tone for the whole movie, which is cheeky. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still tells a great story with good characters. While watching the movie, I was reminded very much of Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, which also starred Robert Downey Jr. and was directed by Shane Black. As I mentioned to you earlier, Tony Stark reminded me of Harry Lockhart from Kiss, Kiss. Lockhart is very much the anti-hero, and this time around Tony is much less arrogant and cocksure than he was in the first two. Up until now, I didn’t associate the two characters.

Swanner: The real star of the movie Robert Downey Jr. His charm and snark is what makes Iron Man so much fun. Captain America, Thor and the Hulk have nothing on Tony Stark and that’s why he’s the best. Can you imagine how bored Tony Stark must have been with Thor around? Iron Man 3 has a running time over 2 hours and it never seems long. I dare say’s it’s my favorite of the series and right up there with The Avengers. It’s the first official summer movie and I’d say were off to a good start

Swanner: 4 Stars
Judd: 4 Stars